Fashion designer Martin Bautista has been making his rounds at Philippine Fashion Week for quite some time, bowing out on some seasons only to return with a stronger collection. From building his atelier that offers bespoke services for the likes of Anne Curtis, Charlene Gonzales, and Marian Rivera to sticking his hand in retail collaborations, he learns the meaning of hustle in a fast changing industry. Read on and learn from his journey as you catch his latest collection with his look book video below.
So tell us about the new collection.
I feel like women today have gotten so sharp and rigid when it comes to dressing. It frustrates me that color and happiness can’t be cool and chic, so what moved me to create the collection was shifting to something pure, happy, and light. There is a longing for something free and frivolous and it’s about time women embraced their obsession with candy-colored pinks and lemon yellows. Even the blacks and whites from my collection have an easy, fun, spirited feel to it with its quirky embellishments and non-traditional lengths. There's a lot of monochromes but it's very subtle and toned down.
Only a handful of local designers put out collections for the two different seasons, unless of course if they’re showing at fashion week. Does this affect the behavior of their clients or it’s basically the same all year round?
Having two collections–summer and holiday–in a year works for me, just like how they do it in the international fashion scene. It's good because your clients have more options from you and there are some who really embrace the idea of how they should be dressed during summer, or on the Holidays when they want to wear something more festive.
So do more clients come to you asking you to remake something from the collection or would most of them still have something else in mind?
It's a mix of both. It's nice when they see something they like from my collection. I really appreciate it. But it's also fun to start something from scratch and make it a collaborative effort between me and the client. Sometimes it surprises me when they have their own ideas then I just do my own take on what they really want.
How relevant is it for a designer to show at Fashion Week? Some of the country’s most prominent don’t necessarily show yet there’s still that prestige that comes with having your collection part of the season’s line-up. Does it really matter if you show or not?
I think it depends on how you want to market your product. In my case, I started my career with Fashion Week and it brought me to a lot of places. It's a great platform for you to show everyone what you can do. Last year, I did three shows for one season, so I wanted to make it different this year by shooting a look book which is great and less stressful. You have total control of how you create an image, a look–hair, makeup, styling, and so on.
Obviously, a showcase at fashion week gets you the mileage. But for those who don’t, how do you suggest they put their work out for the public to see?
Create something very visual and strong–a photo shoot, a fashion film, live art, collaboration with artists. If it's good material, it will reach out everyone. Just make sure you're very clear about your goals and what you want to achieve.
Penetrating this industry can be quite hard for a young designer. Sometimes you just end up becoming a one-hit wonder. How does one keep the iron hot?
I've been in the industry for seven years now and I think I have finally graduated from being a "young designer,” and I can't help but feel really blessed that people still come to me. My business is stable and everything has been really good. I think the key is to be consistent with what you do, from your look to your aesthetic, but keep it fresh by producing something new every season. Focus on what you do, try to veer away and not look at what everyone else is doing. You'll only get distracted. Never think about what others say about you, both the good and bad. Never believe your own hype, it’ll keep you hungry for more and make you work harder.
You’re quite close to Pam (Quiñones) and her team. How were you two able to help each other in building your careers?
There are no words to describe how great Pam is. She's one of my biggest inspirations from the way she thinks about life and career. She inspires me simply by listening to her opinions on what fashion is today. She’s opened a lot of opportunities for me and has always been there during important moments of my career.
Your collab with Cinderella was also really successful. Would you ever consider coming up with your own retail line?
Creating my own retail line would be a totally different experience for me. As of now, I don't think I'll be ready for it because of the many commitments I have to my atelier. But I'm very much open to collaborating with retail brands like what I did with Cinderella.
What’s next for Martin Bautista?
You know, I'm very contented with where I am right now. I'm very happy meeting clients everyday from women of all ages and varying personalities. It's an exciting and beautiful experience.