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Full-circle moment: Filipina teen who went from bashed to ambassador of Charles & Keith redefines 'luxury' in her new job

By Ratziel San Juan Published Mar 09, 2023 8:40 pm Updated Mar 19, 2023 1:19 pm

Singapore-based Filipina teen Zoe Gabriel has gone full circle by being announced as brand community ambassador of Singaporean fashion house Charles & Keith—around two months after she was bashed for calling it "luxury."

ICYMI: Zoe received a Charles & Keith double-handle tote bag (worth P4,799 in the Philippines) from her dad as a gift, which she gratefully posted on TikTok with the video's introductory text reading "my first luxury bag."

Now-deleted comments at the time included "Who's gonna tell her?" among other hate posts directed toward or alluding to the minor, dissing and dismissing the idea that the accessory brand could even be considered a luxury brand.

Fast forward only a couple of months later, the teen is living the dream by being entrusted at such a young age with promoting the launch of the Charles & Keith Alia bag's special iteration in support of the United Nations Women's "Storytelling for Gender Equality" program.

In an exclusive interview, PhilSTAR L!fe got to talk to Zoe about how she got her new stint, as well as the responsibilities it entails.


thank you dad 🥹

♬ Glitch - Just audios

Great power, great responsibility

Following the viral incident, Charles & Keith invited the young Filipina to have lunch with the brand's founders in their headquarters. Unknown to Zoe, she was also going to be offered the ambassadorship.

"I didn't accept it immediately. I thought about it for a while and then got back to them. I was advised to hold off on the official announcement until after the International Women's Day campaign," Zoe tells L!fe.

As for her specific tasks, the young brand representative said the job looks different from day to day.

"The job description kind of varies depending on the month. So there are different challenges for us ambassadors to complete. And once we complete those challenges, you earn points to your account, which as you level up, can give you your commission. So it kind of depends on the theme for the month or what you've been given," Zoe explains.

Aside from Charles & Keith, the teen has also received support in the form of unique opportunities and treats from other brands, which she considers "a chance to experience something new." Those who offered Zoe to try out and/or even promote their products officially include Takagi Ramen, Kimistry Hair, Thrifty Philippines, The Tinsel Rack, Yakiniku Warrior, PowerPacSG, Ge Bi Lao Wang Bak Kut Teh, iWalk Malaysia, and Sushi Nori.

"I'm that type of person who likes trying different things. With all of these offers coming in, I've just been trying to enjoy the journey and just be appreciative of what I've been given," Zoe thanks.

New look, new 'luxury'

Asked about how she reacted to the bashing on social media, Zoe clarified that her response was more motivated by her desire to defend her dad's hard work rather than to preserve her own feelings.

"What's interesting about how the bashing started was the first couple of comments that were coming in were actually coming for my dad. They were attacking him, not me. That's what made me upset and like feel protective, because I felt like he didn't do anything wrong. And I thought that it was fair that he was being treated that way, which was what led me to make the response video," she recalls.

The 17-year-old surprised others and even herself when she made an impact with her message about wealth and privilege in response to the "luxury" controversy.

"I think I was surprised by myself, too," she said. "I feel like I've always been a very vocal person when it comes to things that I'm passionate about. I was surprised, because I didn't think that it would have this much of an impact on people or have the impact that it did, but I'm just grateful," Zoe reminisces.

Now that she has the Charles & Keith platform, Zoe wants to redefine "luxury" moving forward.

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A post shared by zoe gabriel (@zoeaaleah)

"It's not necessarily something of monetary value. Just something that maybe not a lot of people have. Something that you may not be able to obtain," she reangles.

And with the luxury she has been given as Charles & Keith brand community ambassador, Zoe will use her privilege to continue speaking out for good.

On International Women's Day, Zoe used her platform to talk about how even though people tell her she's inspired them, she instead wanted to pay tribute to all the women who make a difference in her life and in the rest of the world every day.

"While everyone talks about how [I]’ve inspired them, you have also inspired me. [Y]ou have taught me compassion through your words and love through your actions—lessons that are so incredibly valuable. [I]t feels like my family has extended amongst all the isles of the sea, and [I] am so grateful that you are with me here today," she wrote.