FASHIONOLOGY TALKS 2016 (Part 1 of 2)

A lot of people may think fashion is just a trend or a form of art, where a famous celebrity strutting next season’s look on Instagram or a group of fashion advocates sporting a common hairstyle or a sexy underwear campaign on huge billboards across the metro. 

Fashion, much like your blue or white collar job, the health clinic you recently visited, the fitness gym you are a member of, or the food establishment where you had your lunch or a Venti-sized coffee, is a mean and serious business. In fact whether someone had a fashion degree or family background in fashion business, there is no guarantee of success. 

Today, the business of fashion requires knowledge, strong commitment and hard work while you keep up with this fast-paced digital era.

Taking a break from my corporate tasks, I am so honored to be invited by one of the Philippines’ renowned fashion designers Mr. Rajo Laurel through his Instagram campaign to attend Fashion Exchange International’s Fashionology Talks 2016.


Fashion Exchange International (FEI) kicked-off its two day event with Fashionology Talks 2016 hosted by model and fashion icon Joey Mead-King tackling the FASHION 360 degree process, giving deeper understanding of raw-to-rack method with guest speakers and acclaimed Filipino fashion designers Rajo Laurel, Francis Libiran and Rosenthal Lee. With their great exposure to the global fashion market and strong local roots there can’t be other best speakers for this.

Here is Part 1 of 2 of the highlights from Fashionology Talks 2016. 

The Ready-To-Wear Business

Joey started off with the first question: “Why did you want to go to ready-to-wear?” Francis briefly answered that he wanted everyone to wear his designs and Rosenthal found retail is an extension of the lifestyle to a wider audience. Rajo concisely responded: “My sister encouraged me, I am originally made-to-order designer and then we realize we have to adapt to the times.” 

When asked how does ready-to-wear translates to his design ethics, Rajo elaborated that ready-to-wear starts with an honest designer’s vision by which the goal is to share it to the clients and have them transform to a look that they want, unlike with custom-made by which the designer and client shares a relationship.

Joey’s next question was: “Did you have mentors or advisers when you grew your business from the beginning?” Francis shared that he had best of both worlds as his parents were his mentors from the start and being inspired from their creative and business sides. Rosenthal expressed the same with her father coming from a shoe manufacturing industry and her mom from paper industry, it did drive her interest as a creative entrepreneur. Rajo mused about his humble beginnings, learning valuable lessons and apprenticeship with Isaac Mizrahi, Pepito Albert and Louie Mamengo which also served as his mentors.

Joey transitioned and asked what their starting process as a fashion designer was, Rajo regarded his theater background with the power of costumes to his fun sense of dressing-up his sister’s dolls and stray cats as to how it triggered his fashion sense and to become something. Rajo further encouraged for starters: “Make mistakes, there’s no right or wrong path..”

Francis on the other hand found himself sketching at the back of his notebook, hiding it under his bed especially from his dad, he expressed that “the creative sense was so strong that he had to let it out and express it”. His college course of Architecture gave him a good training when it comes to designing.

Rosenthal’s path began with the idea of designing as a frustrated artist, she grew up painting and sketching which eventually ended up in designing garments, the process of creating however is what interests her the most and her designs coming to life.

Entering The Global Market

Rosenthal recently showcased her Fall/Winter 2016 collection last New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016. She was fortunate enough to receive an invite from a press company targeted to bring young, youthful and emerging talents from Southeast Asia. Rosenthal is currently working with her Spring/Summer 2017 set to showcase this September 2016 at New York Fashion Week.

See clips of Rosenthal Tee’s Fall/Winter 2016 collection here and here.


Being featured on Women’s Wear Daily last February 2010, Rajo shared the achievement to his team, he stressed that when it comes to international opportunities one would need publicist, agent and funds. He is proud that it developed and established the brand as a player in fashion, creating buzz and interest. The key for Rajo is “to rise above the noise and be authentic with his culture and who he is as a brand.”


Francis on the other hand was successful in breaking the international television industry having his Hello Kitty couture creations featured and worn by top model hopefuls last Cycle 18 of America’s Next Top Model British Invasion edition and his menswear looks last Cycle 22 Guys and Girls edition. For Francis, “as a Filipino fashion designer it brings great opportunity to get an email and create something for ANTM, a challenge to do his best with his design aesthetics and Hello Kitty.”

Watch this clip Francis Libiran featured designer on ANTM Cycle 18. BTS Hello Kitty Collection.


When asked what are the other challenges in marketing themselves in the global audience, Francis expressed that “Filipino designers are resourceful despite the lack of advanced technology, are very creative with details and at par with international designers.”

Rosenthal shared that “the Philippines as an archipelago plays a concern as we don’t get the same materials as other countries and we have to step back and think of other ways to produce as good as others making (us) a cut above the rest.”

Rajo took a positive note and said “the challenges that presented to us are ones that actually makes us brilliant. We are built by our resilient culture.”

He also proudly highlighted that in terms of creativity and execution, our edge as homegrown designers compared to foreign designers are “our hands and our techniques in embroidery is a strength.”

With renowned Filipino fashion designer Francis Libiran

Do watch out for the Part 2 of 2 of the highlights from Fashionology Talks 2016.

Fashion Exchange International (FEI) sets the stage for Filipino and international brands to the global fashion market as the first brand marketing platform here in the Philippines. Fashion Exchange International presented last July 7 and 8, 2016 at Marriott Grand Ballroom, Newport City, Pasay City, Philippines.


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