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Cebuano designer creates summer outfits that are ‘bakuna-ready’

By Tanya Lara Published May 04, 2021 7:03 pm

Whoever said that fashion follows the times couldn’t have been more right about this collection.

Cebuano designer Ia Coca recently launched a line of dresses and separates that are vaccination-ready. Called “Cold Shoulder” collection, the pieces are in delicious pastel colors and designed for that bakuna.

No need to roll one’s sleeve up as they are off-shoulder or feature arm slits. Of course, you can always go sleeveless when getting inoculated—but still, it’s one more reason to get a new outfit and celebrate being vaccinated.

The 29-year-old, Fashion Institute of Design & Arts Cebu (FIDA) graduate says the idea first came to him after he saw the viral photo of Dr. Flordeliza Grana wearing a “bakuna blouse,” and she was mistaken for Vice President Leni Robredo.

Ia tells PhilSTAR L!fe, “People were quick to judge that the vaccination was staged because her sleeve was not rolled up. What the photo didn’t show was the blouse had arm slits. I think wearing the ‘bakuna blouse’ was really smart and fun. I realized at that moment that fashion can be used to draw people’s attention to important issues.”

Ia specializes in custom-made wedding apparel and formal wear. He started doing  RTW pieces during the pandemic, such as PPEs, face masks, streetwear and tote bags to keep his atelier afloat.

Designer Ia Coca: “I trust the medical experts more than the politicians, and seeing healthcare professionals taking the lead was very encouraging.” 

“A lot of retailers have closed, establishments and brands haven’t had any physical or even virtual fashion shows since the pandemic. The local fashion scene is still slowly recovering and trying to get a good footing on the new consumer landscape we currently are in. 

Prior to the pandemic, he won the Brisbane Fashion Runway 2018 in Australia, and the Stylefest PH for Zalora in 2019. In 2017, he represented the Philippines in Malaysia at the World Fashion week 2017.

A modern terno from the “Cold Shoulder” collection by Ia Coca, featuring arm slits for easy vaccination.   

Ia hopes that through this new collection and collaborative efforts with local creatives, he can help further the discussion about the need for vaccination. “For us millenials and Gen Zs who are not on the priority list, we need to start demanding from the government a more speedy rollout.” 

Cebuanos and vaccination

Photos by Worksbehindkrafts, modeled by Chennie Montero.

Cebu rolled out its vaccination program in March starting with the frontliners and using Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines.

“The majority got Sinovac. If Cebuanos were given a choice they’d probably choose other brands over Sinovac. But the reality is we don’t really have that luxury of choice. The advice we are getting from the medical experts is to get inoculated with whatever is available. And people are starting to realize that it’s better to have 50% protection than no protection at all.” 

Ia says the controversies surrounding COVID19 vaccination affected Cebuanos’ perception at the outset. “There were some that were very vocal about their negative stance regarding but I believe the silent majority are for it. What I am most concerned about are the groups of millennials and Gen Zs that don’t really feel the need to weigh in on this issue because they feel that they are the least vulnerable to COVID.”

Styling by Johnlery Dote; makeup by Oriel Carbonilla, hair by Waki Chua. 

He adds, “I think this has something to do with how the media always highlights other age groups, which makes the younger generations feel less concerned about catching the virus.”

Ia tells PhilSTAR L!fe that while there is still some vaccine hesitancy among Cebuanos, this has been reduced over the past months.

“I personally was hesitant at first especially regarding the country’s vaccine of choice. But talking to my previous colleagues in the medical field (I was a medical technologist before) who had more information and already got their complete doses helped me get over my fear.”

Shot at the 5th Home Studio

Ia says the “vaxxie” photos (vaccine selfies) of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals are a great a motivation. “I trust the medical experts more than the politicians, and seeing healthcare professionals taking the lead was very encouraging.”

Last week, Cebu City suspended its inoculation because it ran out of vaccine. “It meant those eligible (senior citizens) were showing up in numbers. And those senior citizens were being accompanied by their children or grandchildren.”

Hopefully the latter will get their turn soon. They already know what to wear, after all.