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We Asked 4 Experts What It's Really Like Working in Fashion in the Philippines

Considering a career in the local fashion scene? Here's what you need to know.
We Asked 4 Experts What It's Really Like Working in Fashion in the Philippines
Photo by Mark Nicdao using the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

It’s easy to think that working in fashion is the most glamorous of all career options. After all, it’s one of the few professions that come with a schedule full of photoshoots, fashion shows, and parties. But anyone who wishes to pursue it as a career must know that the work involved in shaping the hottest trends is not as easy as it looks. To give us a clearer picture of what it’s like working in fashion (and for practical advice for those who want in), we turned to four experts. 

Isabelle Daza, model and actress

It girl Isabelle Daza started modeling at 17. In hindsight, she never thought she would be a model “because [she] had always been a tomboy growing up,” she says. 

Photo by Mark Nicdao using the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

She confesses that life as a model comes with its own setbacks, especially for someone like her who's established a career offline and who now finds herself managing her professional status with social media. Unlike before when models only needed to appear for shoots and shows, being a fashion icon nowadays requires the 24/7 job of curating posts and photos online to maintain a certain image. 

“My biggest struggle is managing my weight and loving myself no matter how much I weigh. In the fashion industry, there are set standards as to how we should look and how much we should weigh,” she shares.

But Belle's priorities have changed since then. In addition to her work in fashion and entertainment, she has also taken on the role of entrepreneur for brands Ride Revolution and FRNK Milk Bar. Belle now strives to balance her professional duties and family obligations. On relatively free days, she divides her hours and allocates time for business, a workout, and her son. But when she’s filming a movie or going on shoots, she says that she could be spending up to three days away from home.

But what makes it all worth it for Belle? She says that it’s all about the people. “You meet the most creative and talented people whom you can draw inspiration from. I think the local fashion industry has also evolved to become a more collaborative space.

For those who want a future in fashion, she shares this tip: “Apply as an intern and study under someone who’s already in the industry. What I love about the Filipino culture is that our seniors are not greedy in sharing their knowledge. They are secure enough with themselves to help mould young creatives.”

Pam Quinones, stylist

One look at her IG feed and it’s easy to see why Pam Quinones is currently one of the country’s most sought after stylists. Having studied Fashion Promotion at Instituto Marangoni and having worked backstage with top models, Pam’s strong fashion background is especially evident in her playful sense of style.

Photo by Mark Nicdao using the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

 According to the mind behind Qurator, her first job in fashion was as an associate fashion editor for a local magazine. “Back then, magazines were less collaborative with new names. In hopes of pleasing the editor-in-chief, I created a story board where I photoshopped my proposed looks on the models and superimposed them on my proposed locations. I even prepared a trend report for that editorial. I really overdid it! But after, I was offered to come on board.”

Now, no two days are alike for her as a business owner and as a creative. “It could be hectic and erratic when I try to fit meetings, fittings, and shoots all in one day. The next day could be the total opposite: paced-out and relaxed. That’s when I recharge, catch up on messages, emails, social media management, and task delegation.

“The real challenge for me was when Qurator was growing and I knew I wanted to make something out of it while still actively styling for every project. I worked long hours for days on end and I felt that it was just a matter of time before I got burnt out. So I took a break to re-evaluate my priorities,” Pam says.

She admits that these struggles have influenced her views on balancing personal and professional life. “I think that this is one of the most common challenges freelancers face. They say yes to everything because they fear that they might not get booked for jobs. They work hard to juggle all projects, but the quality of the work gets compromised, moods begin swinging, and the next thing they know, they’re burnt out.”

But despite these issues, Pam shares that there are many rewards to a career in fashion. “Being able to create something that can affect people in a positive way is a great thing. With regards to styling, I’m proud of how Qurator has grown into a stylist incubator and representation studio, where I can mentor and build career paths for our stylists.”

Mark Nicdao, fashion photographer

He may have started his career in fashion as a production assistant back in 2003, but today, no list of top Flipino fashion photographers would be complete with Mark Nicdao’s name on it. 

Photo by Mark Nicdao using the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

 When asked about his day-to-day schedule, Mark says that his hours are mostly spent thinking of how to improve his work and come up with new ways to express his art. “It’s basically a lot of thinking and actually working on it.”

Doing “it” of course comes with struggles, like managing his schedule. “I’m mostly trying to be in the moment rather than just waiting for things to be done. The work has to be accomplished. There’s a big difference now that I’m much older.”

But like Belle, Mark finds that it’s the people that makes working in the fashion industry worthwhile. “I think everyone is hardworking and very much in touch with the world in some ways. It’s all very exciting! It’s a new world we’re all facing, especially in the art scene.”

For aspiring fashion photographers, he advises, “Just immerse yourself in your work more. Find yourself and keep channeling your individuality in whatever you do, whether it’s for art or commerce.”

Mark Bumgarner, fashion designer

Mark Bumgarner may be one of the hottest fashion designers in the Philippines today, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from his actual background. According to Mark, he only started working in fashion sometime in 2013 while he was taking a break from car racing. At the time, he met many people from the fashion industry who introduced him to the local fashion scene. 

Photo by Mark Nicdao using the OPPO Find X2 Pro.

 Today, Mark’s works are favorites among celebrities, with clients such as Sarah Lahbati and Heart Evangelista. With so many A-listers eager to work with him, his schedule is always loaded with meetings and client fittings, not to mention the time he spends designing his own collections. 

When asked about his struggles as a creative, he shares, “It’s not really a struggle, but we have very limited options for materials. So many of us designers need to source abroad for special fabrics, for example.”

But overall, Mark sounds very optimistic about Philippine fashion. “I think Filipino designers understand the power of social media and being connected to the world. I have a very positive outlook on the future of Philippine fashion. Given the right platform and support, emerging Filipino designers could definitely go global,” he shares.

Designing clothes isn’t always as fun as it sounds, but Mark says that he finds joy in creating pieces to the satisfaction of his clients. He adds, “Also, being able to provide jobs to my small team makes it all worth it.”

He advises aspiring fashion designers to take the time to understand what kind of designer they want to be. “Also know your market. And give it your best shot,” Mark concludes. 

As these experts shared, anyone who wishes to work in fashion has to be more than talentedthey must be restless and relentless. To keep up with the fast pace of schedules and trends, one needs the best tools in their arsenal. That said, having a reliable phone is of utmost importance.

For these fashion creators, phones don't just provide the means to make calls and be online. It’s the primary way to reach clients, to keep updated with the rest of the fashion world, to manage their schedules, and to document their creations to share it with the rest of the world.  

“Our work entails a lot of imagery. We take photos and send them to clients in real time. And it’s important to capture true-to-life colors when presenting clothes. I’ve seen firsthand how a mistake in color could delay the whole process,” Pam says.

In this regard, these experts turn to OPPO Find X2 Pro. OPPO’s latest offering is equipped with a 120Hz QHD+ Ultra Vision Screen that allows excellent color registration. In addition to the stunning visual experience, the phone also comes with an array of features that suit the demanding lifestyle of contemporary Filipino tastemakers.

“I love how wide the lens can go and the results always appear as how I want them to be. The range of its LED and pixel is just crazy,” Mark Nicdao says of the Ultra Vision Camera System. OPPO Find X2 Pro's camera system is a combination of a 48MP main camera, a 48MP ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 13MP periscope telephoto camera. 

“I love its sleek design. The color resolution is stunning and its camera performs well in capturing just about anything,” Mark Bumgarner shares. 

The handset is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 with 12 GB of RAM and up to 512 GB internal storage. It also features a customized Android 10-based operating system that helps provide a convenient and pleasant user experience. The phone also features a 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 flash charging technology that helps users stay on the go.

For Belle, her favorite feature is the phone's battery life. She says, “One thing I love about it is the battery life. I don’t have to carry around a huge power bank, worrying that I’d run out of battery throughout the day.

“I think of smartphones as duplicates of ourselves. That’s why my smartphone has to be efficient and capable of multitasking,” Belle concludes.

Learn more about the OPPO Find X2 Pro by following OPPO on Facebook and by visiting OPPO's online store in Lazada.

This article was created by Summit Storylabs in partnership with OPPO.