The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, shaking almost all industries to their core and forcing many businesses to downsize or worst, fold up. The global fashion industry is no exception and the Philippine fashion scene is feeling the impact, too. More than seven months after the entire Luzon has been placed on the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Tatler catches up with Manila-based designers Patty Ang, Mark Bumgarner, Rajo Laurel, Dennis Lustico and Vania Romoff to see how they are keeping their businesses afloat and the industry alive. Enjoy this interesting exchange moderated by Tatler Philippines editor-in-chief Anton San Diego.
ANTON SAN DIEGO How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected the fashion industry?
PATTY ANG I would say quite bad. But then again, it is a matter of how you cope and pivot with the situation. You must listen to what people want and what people need now.
VANIA ROMOFF The fashion industry is one of those really affected by the pandemic. Fashion, for most or in general, is not considered an “essential” these days, especially occasion wear, which I make. As what Patty said, it’s all about trying to pivot, which is why most of us are doing outerwear, masks and other things people can relate to but still associated with our craft. None of us can tell how long this is going to last. So, for me it is about survival and being able to support my employees and keep the business afloat.
DENNIS LUSTICO It was shocking especially in the first two months. It was only after two months and a half when my staff and I slowly got back on our feet, but still doing a very small percentage of what we did before.
MARK BUMGARNER It is all about figuring out how to adapt to what the market needs as fast as you can. The Armor Project (a way to support the fashion industry while showing resilience and adapting to the New Normal), which I launched in May seems like a good direction at that moment. I am just taking it day by day. The goal is to keep all my staff as much as possible.
RAJO LAUREL Often I feel like we are in a roller coaster ride—some days are good; some, not so. Basically, we’re trying to get our bearings and figuring out what to do next. It’s not easy. I miss the time-pounding work, my clients, the buzz and hum of my workforce. We’re still busy because we are doing protective outerwear, uniforms and masks, but it’s not the same. We must push and do our best given the situation. This is our war, and like in past wars, creativity rises. As creatives we must find that voice to rise above this darkness and create the most beautiful things.
ASD So, have you stopped doing your kind of fashion for now?
MB Of course not. Most of my clients are international so there are some countries that still need ballgowns. There are many, even locally, who are hopeful that they will get married or have a civil wedding in the next few months. We won’t survive on just making PPEs.
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