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.

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

Challenges of Filipino Designers

Joey asked: What is your designer process from raw-to-rack?

Francis mused that everything starts with a vision and inspiration, something that he can see and feel. He’d go on a trip alone, locked away in a room by a beach, be in the zone and to draw what is in his head. He would then talk to his creative team of what he thinks of, explain the texture detail and how to make it as for manufacturing. Having me-time is important, to know your design aesthetics and your business. For Francis, it is him going to the gym, pushing barbells and thinking about gowns.

Rajo also look upon inspiration. His creative process starts with being curious as he needs to be interested. He starts a collection by envisioning a particular muse or something that would translate to the people working on it that is not instantaneous. There is a pocess of roadmap that guides the entire team in the creative process. Rajo stressed: Be clear with what you want to say, what you are selling, as same thing as what we’re trying to express.

Joey’s next question was: How do you continue to build your brand?

Francis answered that he has a creative/marketing team to consult with and a great business partner that would always push him with branding, he mentioned it doesn’t take one man to create something. He believes in teamwork and suggestions of other creative people.
Rosenthal added that support from her family and having another creative eye to view and comment on your work will avoid your design going to the other way.
For Rajo, his brand grew organically, he ran away with the opportunity with a plan and business strategy, he did things to survive and adapt to desire and needs of the people around.

Joey transitioned and inquired: How do you keep your DNA separate from other designers?

Francis was proud to mention his architecture background and training by looking at lines and blueprints developed his strong aesthetics to linear details. He added, pursuing originality and signature look in creating strong statement are of key factors.


Future of Fashion

Joey asked Rajo: How does technology help you in clothing production from raw-to-rack?

Rajo approved that it is beneficial at the moment in order to make things efficient. Technology plays a big role though it should be used with care as sometimes the art may lose its soul. 

Joey then asked Francis: How do you maximize the use of technology to build your brand awareness? 

Francis replied that even without any pen or paper around him, using his Samsung phone he can easily whip a design and send to it to his client. He shared that with the availability of technology right now, we need to keep up with the speed, make use of the creative time, research while waiting on a heavy traffic and sketch on your phone. 

Joey’s question for Rosenthal was: How do feel at fashion blogs contributed to your fashion awareness?

Rosenthal concurred that social media had a strong impact on her being a millennial product of social media machine. Fashion blogs and social media changed how we view fashion around the globe, she mentioned. Before you have to wait for six months to view something from US or Europe, but now in five minutes you can already view them on Snapchat and Instagram. Given that, there’s a greater need for Filipino designers to up the pace to be able to compete, she added.

Joey went on and asked: How do you think popular culture affected the future of fashion?

Rajo generously stated that pop culture is a direct affect on fashion and by nature the expression of people translates to fashion. From the time being, popular culture defined fashion, it dictates what we buy, what we sell and what we actually consume, he added, therefore there’s a very strong relationship – if it is not popular why would you buy it?
Francis replied that we need to be very sensitive with pop culture, as a designer you need to know what’s happening around you.

Joey asked everyone: What is your advice to those who want to enter the industry?

Love fashion and love what you do, Rajo emphasized. Success for him is not as important as happiness, happy people are successful people. Rajo shared, be mindful – in today’s rush, we all think too much, see too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just being.

Rosenthal underlined to set high expectations to onerself. To take it day by day, as the rush to succeed makes one forget to appreciate the daily struggle. Expect to have a hard time but know it will somehow pull it off, she assured.

Francis stated to be clear with what you want. Be strond and have the right attitude, given a lot of criticisms. Mistakes makes you really strong and defines you as a person. 

Joey’s next question was: What do you usually do when you ran out of design concept?

As mentioned peviously, Francis would go to his favorite place which is by the beach. He would lock himself for days to get back that inspiration. He elaborated that, as an artist, we should know how we work, the most traumatic thing is not having an inspiration. One needs to focus and having the passion for it is equally important. 

Rajo said he always believe in the power of pause, to just stop and escape. It is always important to have a me-time in order to clear. Don’t worry too much – “Chill lang teh. Darating din yan” he said amusingly. For Rajo, exploring things that he doesn’t like works, the shift of perspective is interesting.

Joey then asked a fun question: Is there anyone you envision wearing your design, may it be local or international celebrity?

Rajo: Tilda Swinton

Rosenthal: Cate Blanchett or Diane Kruger

Francis: David Beckham


When asked what is their favorite part in being a fashion designer, Francis assured for him it is the process creating, as an artist, creativity is limitless.

For Rajo it is making someone feel good about themselves by empowering them and making sure that anyone who goes out of his studio has a big smile and an overwhelming sensation that “Yes, I can do this!” 

Rajo proudly added: “I sell confidence, I sell beauty but above all, I make you feel good about yourself.”

When asked: Do you think Philippine fashion industry can one day catch up to the same levels such as New York or Paris? 

Rajo positively said: “Of course, but we need to work together to conquer the world of fashion.”

Joey asked Rajo: How did you apply your degree of Human Resource Management in the fashion industry?

HRM is essentially managing people and it is a direct relationship with what we do, Rajo answered, not only sort of managing our employee but also our client. 

Lastly, closing the show, Joey asked: What is your advice to a fresh graduate who wants to venture out in the clothing business line?

Rajo bluntly said “Don’t do it yet, save your money. Learn and study as much as you can so you can utilize your resources much better. Be a little more patient, learn the ropes. Do apprenticeship, apply what you know and work to know the system.”

Rosenthal, learning from abroad, said to one should intern for designers in order to see the pros and cons.

Francis then reminded to master one’s craft and design aesthetics: “Don’t hurry too fast, it comes from within, it will translate. Study carefully and stay true to it.” ***

Thank you so much sir Rajo!

Fashion Exchange International (FEI) kicked-off its two day event with Fashionology Talks 2016 last July 7th 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. 

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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