Fashion is built on talent — of which, these designers have plenty

Young blood—that's what we need. These fresh Filipino talents have been making strides in the Fashion industry, showcasing designs that have the heart of the Filipino, and serving them up to a global buffet of artistry. Meet these three inspiring fashion designers who will doubtless take over the world one day. 

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1. Jessan Macatangay

Having been featured by Vogue Italia and The New York Times, this Batangas native has quickly become one to watch. A recent graduate of the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, Jessan Macatangay was previously a nurse in the Philippines before becoming a fashion designer. 

He's since flown to London and has finished his second bachelor's degree at the prestigious fashion institution. Most notably, his graduation collection—which features art forms inspired by Melanie Bonajo's Furniture Bondage series—has made waves. Bonajo, a Dutch artist, had famously placed chairs atop her subjects to represent struggle. Creating his own visual narrative from Bonajo's cues, Macatangay took inspiration from BenCab's Sabel and created a collection that is as riveting as it is eye-catching.

Taking inspiration from the Filipino art of "making", the young designer worked with cloth, wood, and metal for his optimistic final collection which he's entitled Finding Beauty and Power in Struggle

"A chair is something to sit on, it gives people rest. But when you place the chair on a different part of the body, it becomes a struggle," Macatangay explains. He further adds that by deconstructing the chair in his designs, he is symbolising the ways people can manoeuvre through their struggles to make it less intimidating. "At the end, it becomes less heavy, it becomes part of you. It makes you a better person," he says. 

The designs, which feature vibrant colours and Madame Grès draping, are a thoughtful narrative that, inspired by symbolism, has proven to be some of the most interesting at the graduation collection of students at Central Saint Martins (which has been alma mater to the likes of Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and John Galliano). 

Macatangay, now a graduate, is set to continue with his master's degree at Central Saint Martins the following year. 

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2. Carl Jan Cruz

You might have heard of Carl Jan Cruz before. His designs are a structured jumble of cloth and design—sometimes colourful, sometimes minimalist, but always edgy. He's perhaps an early pioneer in the look that made Yeezy popular; but while Cruz has found success in dressing everyone from celebrities to private citizens, he doesn't seem to stop innovating. 

Having gained a foothold in the fashion industry as an intern at Céline, Cruz has since returned to Manila and started his own brand. He's presented his works at fashion week showrooms across Europe and has even been featured as part of the Vogue Italia Talents in 2018. He is also a Generation T honouree, recognised for his vision and artistry. Yet, despite international acclaim, the young designer has still chosen to return to his roots in the Philippines, where he sources most of his fabrics. 

Using form and texture at the forefront of his designs, Cruz has managed to forge a specific niche for himself in a city where fashion is only beginning to take hold. Speaking on his passion, he says: "I love it because I don't feel like I'm working. I feel more recharged the more I put things out there." 

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3. Kermit Tesoro

Kermit Tesoro is a whiz at footwear—although some would argue that they're more art piece than footwear. The young designer has been known to create heels in the shape of skulls, insects, and octopi. And while that description sounds somewhat grotesque, many stand in awe of the Tesoro's artistic direction, which has (notably) earned him praise from Lady Gaga. 

In previous interviews, Tesoro has revealed that he takes much inspiration from nature. A cursory glance at his Instagram page shows a fascinating worldview into nature: everything from insects to plants to fruits and animals are present. One of his more recent creations is of a moth-inspired face mask he calls "Pandemoth". Painted yellow, blue, and black, with a white skull as its centrepiece, his "Pandemoth" mask is a glimpse into Tesoro's narrative and thought process. 

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