Changing The Local Fashion Narrative

Written by: Laarni Jocson

There is no denying that the global pandemic has disrupted all sectors of commerce. And the fashion industry is no exemption. It’s not only a matter of survival but making this seemingly escapist indulgence more relevant than ever.

Just like everything else reeling under the weight of economy slump, this sector needs to navigate the new normal’s territory wherein flexibility and adaptability mark the difference from crashing to staying afloat.

Levenson Rodriguez, founder of the Fashion Designers Alliance (FaDAL) remains resolute that fashion can pivot and create a driving force to a greater cause. “This prompts the change with the alliance (FaDAL) thrust from discovering (up and coming designers) to “thrive and inspire” (seasoned designers), according to Mr. Rodriguez. A creative collaboration with conceptual photographer, founder of Headshot Clinic Niccolo Cosme, hence gave birth to a project called Banig campaign.

The Banig campaign started as a way to introduce the Fashion Designers Alliance | Creative Movers, a group of seasoned and multi awarded  designers. “This project aims to create awareness of the pandemic’s magnitude that affects our creative industry. I want to help in my own way to restart the pulse of the Philippine fashion industry as we regain our footing”, he adds.

It was Niccolo Cosme’s suggestion to further the cause and they both decided to open the campaign for public to register. A part of Banig’s proceeds will be given to weavers and dressmakers who have lost their source of income and support the education of the Suludnon children, also known as Panay-Bukidnon, a tribe of Indigenous Peoples that live in Panay, Visayas.

Since 2007, Project Headshot Clinic (HSC) has been on the forefront of highlighting advocacies through thoughtful, collaborative, and inspiring campaigns. Founded by photographer Niccolo Cosme, HSC utilizes clout, facts, and creativity to emphasize the conditions of HIV and AIDS, climate change, and women empowerment among others. Its signature execution merges thematic headshot photos with a call to action to move information forward in the digital age.

Resilience in a Pandemic

With strict social distancing protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic, HSC’s meticulous set design and glam team for photo shoots had to be foregone. Cosme restructured the HSC format into a “no-shoot”, fully digital platform where participants receive a detailed instruction on the campaign details and photo requirements and are asked to submit the photos to be reimagined for the respective advocacies.

Amidst the lockdown, the first collaborative photo campaign series entitled, “One World 2020”, was launched during Earth Day 2020. Taking center stage was the artistry of watercolor painter Pat Abella that depicted the beauty of nature. This was followed by the “Freelove2020” pride campaign that featured the alcohol ink styles of multidisciplinary artist Edwin Loyola. Cosme shares, “All of us are struggling to adapt; we needed to quickly adopt new strategies to constantly pursue our advocacies and campaigns. We realized that the lockdown was not a hindrance and this new format works safely and efficiently even with limited resources and less physical interactions.”

More than a show of glamour in portraits, HSC took these as opportunities to urge participants to extend a helping hand to those in dire need. HSC was able to provide financial assistance in procuring PPEs. Adding to that, HSC was able to raise funds for displaced artists by partnering with the Artist Welfare Project Inc. as one of its beneficiaries last April.

A feeding program for a number of urban poor communities in Manila followed in May. During its pride month campaign last June, HSC was also able to raise funds for a halfway home for people living with HIV in Manila.

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