“Looking stylish doesn’t mean having to buy something new,” says circular fashion advocate Tati Fortuna. The lovely image consultant, businesswoman, and sustainability champion launched Boss Manual, a book of sustainable fashion, featuring 32 notable leaders from different backgrounds, ages and industries who are CEOs, executives, and experts in their own fields.
These bosses practice sustainability in their own companies and in their personal lives. Though the book’s message is a serious one, the event was fun and enjoyable, with a fashion show having the bosses gamely walking the ramp Zoolander-style. The vibe was upbeat, positive, and it was a great way to enlighten people about this meaningful cause.
The book is more than a fashion manual. Aside from featuring the bosses and their practices that support circular fashion, there are fashion and image tips, and guides to putting together a sustainable wardrobe. There is also interesting trivia. Tati says, “I wrote this book because I wanted to go beyond working with companies by providing sustainable options. I felt it’s time to have more people realize that being sustainable is possible in the little things that we do, and we can encourage more people to practice it. I thought of working with the bosses because they have the platform and credibility.”
The bosses shopped in their own closets; some of the clothes were repaired, altered and upcycled for the photoshoot and fashion show to underscore the key message of the book.
STANLEY NG: ‘Aside from wearing sustainable clothing, I always prefer to support our local products.’
Stanley Ng, president and COO of Philippine Airlines, looked dapper walking down the ramp donning his captain hat. “Aside from wearing sustainable clothing, I always prefer to support our local products. That’s the reason why most of the time you will see me wearing our very own Barong Tagalog in the workplace, or when attending functions and events.”
In the book, he reiterates his fervent support for locally made items. This includes the Ilocos Inabel weave, his go-to OOTD. This top executive wears his country with pride and is a great example for “love local.”
ERIC PUNO: ‘In the past 20 years, I haven’t changed my size. So I can reuse my clothes.’
Puno Law managing partner Eric Puno describes the challenges in fully going paperless in his law firm, but they are making an effort. The topnotch lawyer adds, “Though it is a global concern, sustainability is very important today in the Philippines, in particular, because of our population and scarce resources.” When it comes to fashion, “my personal sustainable habit is through my clothes. In the past 20 years, I haven’t changed my size. So I can reuse my clothes. A lot of my clothes are 20 years old.”
RALLY MARTINEZ: ‘If you don’t use a piece of clothing in the next 120 days, it means you don’t need it.’
Garnering a lot of cheers and laughter during the show was Rally Martinez, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Casa Europa Inc. Lightening the mood as he danced his way onstage, Rally is quite serious about circular fashion. He shared his insights: “In a world where everything is so disposable, it takes so much effort to clean up the environment. The first step should be reducing what we consume and what we dispose of, and it starts with forgetting about fast fashion. You wear it a few times and it just sits in your closet, then you dispose of it. Reducing your carbon footprint to a minimum is important; that way you are actually consuming less, which is a good thing.”
Rally used to buy a lot of clothes—whatever he wanted, he bought. But his son told him, “Dad, if you don’t use a piece of clothing in the next 120 days, it means you don’t need it.” And Rally has followed this rule ever since.
MARCO LOBREGAT: ‘I’m trying to live with less, declutter and simplify.’
Handsome Marco Lobregat brought his casual flair to the show as well. Known as the “hottest mushroom farmer in the world,” the founder of the Ministry of Mushrooms states that “I’m already 42, and we’ve all been hearing about how to protect the environment for a while. But more and more, it looks like it hasn’t really been addressed so well. Solutions have not really worked. It is affecting our generation already, and if we are not conscious of making things sustainable, a couple of generations after us won’t have the same privileges and resources we have.”
Right now, Marco is making his own contribution to this cause by writing a book entitled The Mushroom Explorer’s Guide to the Cordilleras. “I’ve discovered indigenous tribes who forage and it’s a craft that’s pretty much disappearing. I’m trying to connect people back to nature. This way, they understand sustainability more.” In his personal and fashion habits, he is “just trying to live with less, and not have so much things, declutter and simplify.”
CHRISTIAN VALDES: ‘I do not support fast fashion and reinvent my old clothing.’
Guapo, green-eyed Christian Valdes is known for his creative, yummy, and luxe chocolates. The socially conscious owner and head chocolatier of CMV Txokolat works with his suppliers to ensure they provide sustainable produce, or use sustainable methods. “I also work with cacao farmers on how they best can grow their products. For my packaging and boxes, I use suppliers who train street children, providing them with a new skill.”
As for his clothing, he “does not support fast fashion,” repeats his outfits all the time, and reinvents his old clothing through recycling.
Fast fashion is one of the planet’s great polluters, where discarded clothes are buried in landfills and take 400 years to decompose. To counter this, we repair, reuse, upcycle. That’s the practical but brilliant process of circular fashion. Tati emphasized that “circular fashion is quite important, and fast fashion has contributed to climate change. We have to reconsider how we consume clothes. There’s no way to go, we really need to practice circularity in fashion now.”
Knowing this, we can all make our own contribution by practicing mindful consumption. As they say, follow the leader, and in this case, follow the bosses—and learn what it’s like to make a positive change for the world.