If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from the year that’s passed, it’s the importance of innovation, resilience, and working together. With physical retail and trade fairs halted, the local fashion industry faced many challenges. “There were many cancelled orders and closed stores and factories due to the lockdown,” shares Carissa Cruz Evangelista, creative director for Beatriz Accessories, iterating the need to pivot for business to survive.
Working together as FAMPh
For the Fashion Accessories Makers of the Philippines (FAMPh), pivoting meant banding together to find ways to survive and thrive amidst the crisis. The 45 members of the collective—designers and makers of shoes, bags, and accessories—work together by sharing expertise, business know-how, insights, and their network. The goal is to create a national plan for the fashion accessories industry, grow their membership, and find support and advocates in both the government and private sectors.
Moving to the Digital Space
"The old way of doing business isn’t going to return anytime soon so an online platform coupled with a digital presence was how we decided to pivot,” says Gina Nebrida Ty of Agsam Fashion Fern. The group acknowledges that only a few have e-commerce platforms and some are just starting to become active on social media. Hence, they’ve launched a year-long digital campaign to strengthen their presence online. With the hashtag #CraftingOurFutureTogether, they hope to create awareness and connect with the market.
Another aspect of business that’s had to move to cyberspace is the participation in trade fairs. “Initiatives we’ve started revolve around online channels in response to changes in the trade show environment and buyer behavior,” shares Frederic Ong of jewelry brand Alchemista. The collective is boosting their online content with fashion films, virtual selling shows, and artist features. A website is also in the works to provide a joint online presence for all its members.
With trade shows also moving to digital, FAMPh is also participating in FAME+, the new digital trade and community platform of Manila FAME. If in the past they would focus on product and booth preparations, they had to retool with new presentation formats and communication processes that are apt for the virtual selling space. And while the learning curve is steep, they see how opportunities can grow as they can reach customers across the globe any day, at any time. “We do not know what exactly to expect but trust in DTI, CITEM, and the private sector to lead the way so that we may promote our brands to wholesale buyers around the world,” shares Carissa.