How will PH fashion industry survive amid COVID-19? Experts weigh in

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 06 2020 06:59 PM | Updated as of May 06 2020 07:58 PM

MANILA -- Members of the local fashion industry should use the coronavirus-induced quarantine as an opportunity to work together and rethink strategies, three industry experts said Wednesday.

Designers Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Plains and Prints co-founder Roxanne Farillas served as panelists in the first "Fashion Forward Dialogue," which aims to look at the industry amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Farillas said designers should not only support their own brands and companies but also the industry as a whole, including other staff like assistants and photographers.

"We really need to reunite for us to recover... For us, I have to make sure that I would support not just our company, but of course the fashion industry, by continuing having shoots so we are able to give jobs to other people. That's our commitment," she said. 

Laurel agreed, noting that all designers, big or small, "are now on the same level" because of the pandemic.

"We should use this opportunity to band together and share expertise and knowledge," said Laurel, who is also the vice president of the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines (FDCP). "This is going to be a defining moment for the Philippine fashion industry."

Aranaz-Alunan, president of FDCP and co-founder of School of Fashion and the Arts, for her part expressed optimism that this "dark time" will result in something better.

"I think this time is... a moment and an opportunity for rebirth for every one of us," she said, adding, "It's important that we really see things with a lot of trust and hope and positivity."

GIVING WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT

During the webinar, Aranaz-Alunan stressed the importance of producing fashion items that have "real meaning," noting that clothes and bags are not as in demand today because of the COVID-19 crisis.

This, she said, will encourage people to shop as they will "understand that their money is not going to waste."

"We have to make sure that what we're producing has real meaning to us as a brand, to the people who make it, and use that and communicate that to the market," she said. "That this is not just another bag, this is not just another dress -- this is something that is thoughtfully made and provided livelihood to this family or this community."

Aranaz-Alunan also brought up the idea of sustainable fashion, saying: "We really need to start creating things that hopefully last a lifetime."

Laurel, on the other hand, said members of the fashion industry should "think beyond the glamour" if they want to survive the economic downturn caused by the novel coronavirus.

"What's gonna be happening is people who are... just in it for the Instagram are going to die," he said. "That's the truth. You need to sort of think just beyond the glamour and really buckle up, fasten your seatbelts, and get working, because that's how we're going to survive. You have to sort of bite the bullet and really come up with pieces that people want."

Laurel spoke of protective wear and easy-to-maintain clothes that are ideal for the country's hot weather as he encouraged designers to create garments that "can protect ourselves" and "make us feel comfortable."

Farillas supported Laurel's idea, saying Plains and Prints will soon release an "essential" collection consisting of face masks and multipurpose outerwear, to name a few.

"I agree with Rajo that we need to be sensitive to what consumers really want," she said, adding that they are also coming up with ways to innovate and push their other collections.