Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Why free designs, collabs don't work, according to Filipino fashion designers

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Feb 21, 2024 6:42 pm Updated Feb 21, 2024 7:44 pm

"Beautiful things in this world are not free. In other words Magbayad ka!!!"

These are the strong words of renowned fashion designer Michael Cinco, known for dressing up famous celebrities for stage performances to red carpet appearances worldwide, including Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Mariah Carey, among others.

In a now-expired Instagram story, Cinco questioned why some Filipino celebrities and influencers chose to spend their money on expensive European brands instead of supporting Filipino designers.

"Its quite ironic how these celebrities wear these designer clothes, but when it comes to Filipino designers, they suddenly want everything custom-made for them for FREE," he wrote, adding that we should "break the cycle and uplift our own fashion industry" by "recognizing and supporting our local talents including fashion designers."

"They have the potential to create beautiful and unique creations that can rival any European brand," Cinco said, "So let's give credit where its due and SUPPORT our Filipino designers."


Why ex-deals or free designs don’t work

Collaborations with celebrities and influencers help local fashion designers gain recognition and establish their brands in the industry. Working with others is important, renowned fashion designer Rajo Laurel told PhilSTAR L!fe.

"The reason being is that you only enrich yourself and learn from others. By allowing other people in your creative work, one expands horizons and grows," he said.

However, Laurel added that politely saying "no" drew the line between giving his creations for free in exchange for a post on social media and charging them a fee.

"I don't believe that anything is truly free. So, I don't engage in anything that isn't fair and proper. You would know if someone is just trying to take advantage of you and you must at all times have boundaries. Just politely say no when needed. It's as simple as that."

Patrick Isorena, a Quezon City-based fashion designer who created Miss Universe 2022 R’Bonney Gabriel’s "Woman on Moon" costume, echoed Laurel’s sentiments, adding that there are and will be limitations on what designers can share and give.

"Just because we want our name to be out there and be seen, it doesn't mean that we can be or will be abused for giving things for free," he told L!fe, adding that designers like him also have "bills to pay and family to provide [for]."

This also rings true for Cebuana designer Axel Que, who made garments for Miss World Philippines 2021 Tracy Maureen Perez and Miss Universe 2021 Top 5 finalist Beatrice Luigi Gomez.

"In most cases, I'd prefer to be paid kahit honorarium man lang kasi I cannot pay 'exposure' or 'clout' sa bills ko," she said.

There are pros and cons to unpaid collaborations, as Puey Quiñones, a featured designer mentor in The World's Most Fashionable Prison, pointed out.

"Designers must consider the potential benefits and drawbacks. Giving away pieces for free can be a cost-effective way to gain exposure and reach a larger audience. However, designers must also consider the value of their work and whether the exposure gained from the collaboration is worth the investment," he said. 

"In some cases, it may be more beneficial to charge a fee for collaborations, especially if the celebrity or influencer has a large following and can significantly impact sales," he added. 

Local vs. international fashion

Que also brought up how some influencers and celebrities who splurge on the latest sneaker collaborations or trendy bags of the season "don't think twice when asking Filipino designers to make their garments."

"Aside from binabarat ka na, marami pang side rearks at reklamo sa price kasi 'local' lang nga," she added.

For Mikee Andrei, a Paranaque-based fashion designer and the general manager of Aces and Queens, ex-deals are red flags as those in the industry can be taken advantage of.

"Because some, if not most of [influencers and celebrities], seem to be entitled, I feel bad for the newbies who are subject to abuse and be taken advantage of for the sake of promotion and exposure," she said.

Budding fashion designer Jamela Reginaldo stands firm about how Filipino designers should be paid correctly.

"We also deserve to be paid in full like luxury brands... I hope the mentality of entitled people changes, that when it's made by a Filipino creative, it's cheap," she said.

"Hindi magpapatalo ang quality ng works ng Pinoy sa ibang bansa.

How can we support local designers more?

The most important benefit to consider is that supporting local fashion designers demonstrates concern for the country's fashion industry. Through this, you'll be able to reinvest financial resources in Pinoy designers, allowing the local economy to flourish.

As Reginaldo shared, there are a lot of talented designers in the Philippines.

"I hope they support local designs kasi maraming magagaling pero hindi nabibigyan ng opportunity na mapakilala ang sariling works. Sana mas iprioritize ng mga tao isuot ang gawa ng mga talented Pinoy designers," she added.

Andrei hopes that designers can also band together to support each other. “Hopefully, the industry will work together to make things work while everyone is not abused and opportunities and advantages are legitimate and realistic,” she said.

Likewise, visual artist and celebrity fashion designer, Ehrran Montoya emphasized that while collaborations are beneficial, "Let us at least support each creative by paying them."

"It's really hard for us to thrive if we're going to continue the free or collaboration practice," Montoya noted. (with reports from Brooke Villanueva)