It’s true what they say about us Filipinos—in times of uncertainty and danger, Bayanihan will always prevail. And yes, this holds very much true in fashion.
We are now on the second week of an extreme enhanced community quarantine, and unfortunately, we are far from flattening the curve. Even as we write, more and more confirmed cases of COVID-19 are being declared across the world and especially here in the Philippines.
While we are in the midst of these challenging times, Filipinos are making it a point to do their part in slowing the spread of the global pandemic. Whether it’s simply staying at home, being responsible for washing and sanitizing their hands, or through monetary and in-kind donations to our hardworking front-liners, the spirit of giving is roused, and something is being donned where and when needed. And speaking of donations, we’re glad to see how the local fashion scene is also doing their corporate social responsibility.
Power Fashion Inc.
After the successful innovation of the COVID-19 test kit developed by UP scientists, another essential item in the time of the pandemic has been created by a collaboration of Filipino organizations. Power Fashion Inc. (PFI) the company behind the brands Bayo, Unica, and Viseversa struck an agreement with the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) to deliver 500,000 face masks that will be used by front-liners in hospitals all over the country.
According to a Facebook post by DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, the 500,000 face masks produce will “use a PTRI textile-coating technology for treatment and finishing. It will also collaborate with the Power Fashion Inc. to produce masks using local fiber textiles which will be donated by the latter.”
Suit It Up Manila
In order to make the face masks more adherent to liquid pathogens such as Covid-19, PFI submitted samples of the face masks to DOST-PTRI for trial. PTRI applied a functional treatment developed at the DOST-PTRI Smartex laboratory to the fabric that would make it water repellent. You can even wash the said face masks 50 times without losing its repellency factor, hence, re-wearing it is possible.
Apart from masks, another local brand is making a modest donation to help the Philippine General Hospital with its operations against the coronavirus. Suit It Up Manila, the country’s leading bespoke men’s formal wear brand has pledge PHP 100,000.
Franco Ongkingco, Chief Operating Officer says, “at this challenging time, we believe that we also have a responsibility and duty as Filipinos to contribute to our brave front-liners who put their lives on the line every day for us in the face of COVID19.” So, despite the uncertainties that lie before us, he believes that we must maintain a positive mindset and work together to overcome this crisis.
Much like how brands are putting effort into creating face masks, there are also a handful of Filipino designers who are following suit. One of which is Puey Quiñones, who recently had the prestige of having one of his pieces eternalized in LACMA‘s heritage collection. Since he has all the equipment needed to create the PPEs and already got the pattern from Mich Dulce via the Office of the Vice President, his team has started the production of it for distribution to hospitals.
Designer Patty Ang has started sewing PPE gears and shared the first of its many that her atelier will be made to aid the front-liners. “We heartfully decided to somewhat continue making garments, not to only clothe people but more importantly to protect them,” she says. “Magtulungan po tayo, kaya natin ito!”
Another designer is RJ Santos, the man behind Randolf Clothing. “We’ve always kept excess fabrics or retasos used for clients and collections and use them to make one-offs at the end of the year,” he shares on his Instagram post. “This week, we’ve decided to make use of these fabrics to make something that can be of help to people around us: face masks.”
In addition, he encouraged everyone who knows how to sew and have the equipment to create their own masks. So, he uploaded in this link an instruction on the sewing and a ready-to-print pattern you may use. “Please note that the shell fabric should be water repellent for the mask to serve its purpose,” he reminds.
Renan Pacson, the in-house designer of Art Personas, also showed his own take on creating a face mask and offers it for free. “Free masks! Gawa kami few pieces every day in between production,” he says on his Instagram post. “It will take time, but will try to accommodate all your requests.” For the first production of 250 masks in total, he used neoprene fabrics with graphic prints.
On the other hand, Santi Obcena opted to use fabrics from eco-bags, umbrella, and retasong cotton, denim, and garters. According to him, “the eco bag material can be taken out and disinfected with a hydrogen peroxide solution while the fabric mask can be gently washed with detergent.”
“A reusable mask that gives more protection than just one layer or two-layer fabric mask,” he explains. “The outer layer is also waterproof but breathable, [which I] took the fabric from our broken umbrella.”
Santi added that they will try to make as much as they can, and as fast as they can. “Gusto namin na magawan ‘yung mga kaibigang front-liners, mga nagvo-volunteer, mga high risk at lahat ng nangangailangan ng face mask na reusable at may dagdag na effectivity laban sa virus,” he shares, adding that this practical and economical endeavor was done in consultation with medical practitioners, making it not only a heartwarming one, but a well-informed and highly-considerate one.
Recently, internationally-renowned milliner and corsetiere Mich Dulce posted on her Instagram that Vice President Leni Robredo will be lending her samples of PPE gear to follow the pattern and begin production. She also urged fellow designers to follow suit in this of-the-essence effort.
“To friends in the fashion industry who have studios or factories still in operation or with the capacity to work from home and want to help, please DM me and let’s try to get this material to become something our health workers can use,” she says. The gear that will be made in her studio will be distributed via the Office of the Vice President.
While others are already on full force creating masks, Bridal couturier Cen Hontomen thought of putting her own efforts into creating a PPE gown. She posted on her Facebook the right sewing pattern so others may also follow suit. In fact, Cen also made a vlog about it so that you’ll have a proper guide on how to make one.
She also recommends, as suggested by her designer friend Bon Hansen, to do the gown’s sleeves in Dolman style. “Request kasi ng mga doctors and nurses natin na less needle puncture at seams dapat ang mga PPE gowns para less ang possibility na maka-penetrate ang virus,” she explains.
Meanwhile, designer to the stars Michael Leyva has already started distributing washable face masks to our front-liners. Apart from his generous donations, time and effort, he also tapped McDonald’s Philippines to provide food to our beloved heroes.
Following the success of their first batch of face masks they’ve distributed, Michael has now started sewing PPEs to also donate once more to our front-liners. “We are one with this. #TeamMichaelLeyva will be donating PPEs, head covers and masks for our heroes,” he says. “From our hearts, maraming salamat sa malasakit. God bless all our front-liners. Mabuhay kayo!”
Joining in the roster of designers who are producing medical-grade PPEs to donate to our front-liners is Rajo Laurel. The renowned designer shared that the Rajo Laurel Group of Companies is reopening its factory. However, much like other designers, he also needs assistance in sourcing more materials to make the necessary number of PPEs.
Recently, he posted on his Instagram Stories posted his sewing process of the PPE suits as well as his final prototype of it. Rajo also made it a point to explain that if you are also producing one, it’s is critical to use Tyvek fabric, which is a high-density polyethylene fiber, so it can protect oneself from any liquid or chemical.
If you work or know a hospital who is in need of PPEs to please message the brand so they can include them in the list they will be distributing the finished PPEs.
Fashion For Front-liners
Fashion For Front-liners is a group of Filipino fashion designers who are working together to help our medical front-liners in their right against coronavirus. The designers who are participating in this project are Yong Davalos, Bessie Bessana, Steph Tan, Jill Lao, Rob Ortega, Andrea Tetangco, Viña Romero, Jot Losa, and Dino Lloren.
As of March 28, the group has already raised over a million pesos to fund all the production of the PPE suits that they will be donating to hospitals that are in dire need of PPE supplies. As of the moment the group has produced PPEs for PGH, Lung Center, Heart Center, Amarang Rodriguez Hospital, UERMC, Orthopedic Center, and San Juan Medical Center.
This is a developing story.