Designing clothes with a story

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AT SoFA Design Institute, madness breeds creativity — or is it the other way around? As a culminating activity for the school’s 24 fashion graduates this year, a public exhibition has been set up at Makati’s Power Plant Mall where original, eclectic, and whimsical clothes are on view.

“We believe that we have to explore creativity. We don’t want you inside the box. Don’t always think ‘this is for my client.’ Because, if that is your thinking process as a student, you are limiting your creativity right away,” said SoFA founder and president, Amina Aranaz,at the sidelines of the exhibit opening on July 27. “You have to go outside what you see in the magazines or runway. And then, after this expression of creativity and imagination [as a student], that’s when you can water it down.”

The result? A wild showcase of different voices, materials, and cuts.

“Our aim is to have a student find their unique voice. We don’t allow our students to look at pegs or what others are doing. By looking inside, that’s how you are able to come up with something unique,” said Ms. Aranaz, the woman behind the eponymous bag brand that has made it locally and globally.

The designers behind the exhibit — called Told: the stories within me — were given creative license to do whatever they wanted, just as long as their fashion story was cohesive and personal.

“We don’t teach how to edit, because if we do, then all the designs are going to be the same. We believe that what is lacking in the industry, and what will set you apart, is intense creativity. We can teach you how to edit, but only in terms of your story. Is this how you want your story [told]? Is your design language consistent with your story?,” said Ms. Aranaz.




The 24 students were asked to come up with six looks for the Power Plant mall exhibit.

The resulting inspirations the creations could even come from personal trauma.

One of the exhibitors, Jeremy Tan, 23, lost his father last year, and he used this as his inspiration instead of succumbing to depression.

Mr. Tan’s collection is called “I M U,” which stands for three things: the Intensive Medical Unit where his father was confined, “I Miss You,” and “I am you.”

“It’s a process of my feelings and how things were going on in my family,” he said of a set of distressed denim outfits which he called “Chaos,” “because that’s how was I feeling back then.”

His pieces are rather topsy-turvy but still have direction. The clothes were made from deconstructed denim, and the small details like the use of detached thread, color (mustard), and white patches, were reminders of his father’s death.

Despite being inspired by his father, his collection — a denim dress and a denim top is women’s wear. “Why not a men’s collection as a tribute to my father? It’s because when I look at it, I think of my mom. She’s gone through a lot of pain at that time,” he said.

“I used it as a therapy. It’s a reminder that my father loves me,” he said.

The 24 collections are on view at Power Plant Mall until Aug. 2. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman









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