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The Future of Pinoy Fashion Is Bright and Young

Olivia Reyes and Keli Teo, the youngest ever to join our annual Best Dressed list, lead the pack of young guns that will take the local fashion industry to the future.

by Owen Maddela | Sep 19, 2018

Whereas 12-year old blogger Tavi Gevinson starting Style Rookie in 2008 or 16-year old Julia Barretto fronting Preview Magazine in 2013 was considered a fashion milestone in the past, the new poster girls of of fashion’s “start ‘em young” philosophy are getting smaller but nonetheless chicer through time. 

Meet the future frontliners of Pinoy fashion: six-year-old Keli Teo and 3-year-old Insta-girl Olivia Reyes. Their combined ages do not even sum up to a double-digit figure but their joint value—Olivia as the youngest Insta-girl we know and Keli with her prized wardrobe—make them fashion giants this early.  


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Keli Teo for Preview.ph

On the models: Top, P1495, MANGO, UP Town Center. Dress, ELIZABETH HALLIE, cel. no. 09178362521. Boots, price unavailable, ELAINE TORTAL, cel. no. 09267327337. Dress, price unavailable, CHE IGARASHI, cel. no. 09452657221. Shoes, P4895, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street. Top, trousers, boots, prices unavailable, all YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376.


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Olivia Reyes for Preview.ph

On Olivia: White turtleneck, P395, MANGO, U.P. Town Center. Pleated metallic dress, P1190, H&M, Robinson's Magnolia. Jacket, model's own. Red cat eye shades, P755, ALDO ACCESSORIES, Bonifacio High Street. Bag, P33,980, N°21, Distinqt, Shang at the Fort. Belt, P11,280, N°21, Distinqt, Shang at the Fort. Shoes, model's own.

On models: Coat, price unavailable, YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376. Top, P495, MANGO, UP Town Center. Culottes, price unavailable, NERIC BELTRAN, cel. no. 09215193193. Sequinned boots, price unavailable, ELAINE TORTAL, cel. no. 09267327337. Robe, P11,350, SENADA, Comme Ci, Power Plant Mall. Trousers, price unavailable, YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376. Pumps, P2599, CHARLES & KEITH, Power Plant Mall. Sweater, P995, MANGO, UP Town Center. Belt, price unavailable, AUXILIUM BY TRICIA OGAO, cel. no. 09162530330. Trousers, price unavailable, HA.MU, cel. no. 0915389712. Coat & dress, prices unavailable, both YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376. Pumps, P5395, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street.

Together with six other Pinays who represent other facets of the industry—design, beauty, retail, styling, photography, and journalism—Keli and Olivia paint for us the kind of scenario they imagine the next ten years will be for Philippine fashion. Probably our biggest teen style stars by the year 2028, we let Keli and Olivia provide the visuals and their grown-up sisters in fashion, their ideas to make it bigger in a decade’s time.

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KEEP FASHION FUN: KELI TEO, PRE-TWEEN STYLEPHILE AND OLIVIA MANZANO-REYES, COOL TODDLER OF INSTAGRAM

Keli’s Instagram is private—her sartorial outings limited to family photos on her parents’ social media or the occasional family feature in local magazines. But in the photos we’ve seen so far, she is definitely exhibiting full-on style star potential at an early age. “She has shown a keen interest in dressing up and choosing her outfits,” shares her mom, top dermatologist Dr. Aivee Teo. “She knows what she likes to wear and shows strong opinion about it. Especially now that she turned six, she likes to try and pick her clothes, shoes, and bags when she goes shopping with me. When I buy something for myself, she would ask me cheekily, ‘Am I next mommy?’”


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Turtleneck, P395, MANGO, UP Town Center. Fur jacket, STELLA MCCARTNEY, model's own. Denim skirt, P995, MANGO, UP Town Center. Jeans, ZARA, model's own. Shades, QUAY, model's own. Embellished bag, model's own. Check bag, P2195, ALDO ACCESSORIES, Bonifacio High Street. Belt, P27,280, N°21, Distinqt, Shang at the Fort.


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On Keli: Sweatshirt, P1195, ZARA, Power Plant Mall. Paper bag waist pants, P1595, ZARA, Power Plant Mall. Vest, STELLA MCCARTNEY, model's own. Bag, KATE SPADE, model's own. Sneakers, M&J REPUBLIC, model's own. Necklace, P3480, FIRMA, Greenbelt 3.


On the models: Top, P1495, MANGO, UP Town Center. Skirt, P2295, MANGO, UP Town Center.  Shoes, P4895, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street. Top, price unavailable, HAMU, cel. no. 09176774633.  Pumps, P5395, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street. Top worn as dress, price unavailable, HAMU, cel. no. 09176774633. Heels, P4695, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street. Corset, price unavailable, SAI STUDIO BY SHARLEE INAVIT, cel. no. 09563869898. Trousers, price unavailable, BON HANSEN, cel. no. 09262432711. Boots, price unavailable, ELAINE TORTAL, cel. no. 09267327337.

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She came prepared on the day of her photoshoot, bringing her own clothes and practicing poses the night before. She also demonstrated fluency in two of fashion’s other languages: She professed her love for her favorite brands—Gucci, Stella McCartney, and Armani—and placed her hand in her pocket and tilted her head as effortlessly as a professional model should.

Asked if Keli has been dropping hints on an imminent future in fashion or as an influencer, Aivee, who maintains a no-gadget policy with her brood, says, “Keli just enjoys dressing up, posing, shopping, wearing my high heeled shoes and all the girly stuff just like most little girls. Honestly, we are not really too focused on her social media presence. We just capture her and if it’s something we like to share then we post it.”


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On Keli: Dress, VIVETTA, model's own. Shirt, P795, MANGO, UP Town Center. Belt, P11,280, N°21, Distinqt, Shang at the Fort. Leggings, P495, ZARA, Power Plant Mall. Flats, SILVER, model's own. Shades, P15,550, LINDA FARROW, Distinqt, Shang at the Fort. Red hat, model's own.


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On Keli: Puff jacket, PAUL SMITH, model's own. Polo shirt, GUCCI, model's own. Shirt, GUCCI, model's own. Metallic shorts, FINGER IN THE NOSE, model's own. Sneakers, NIKE, model's own. Bag, EMILIO PUCCI, model's own.

Olivia, on the other hand, seems to take after her public figure parents (dad GP is a PR pro and mom Andi is a model and DJ), with Instagram stats that could rival social media stars six or seven times her age. As of this writing, her following on Instagram is a few thousands over 400,000 mark with posts averaging 20,000 in likes. GP, however, makes it clear that Olivia’s presence on Instagram is more a narration of her everyday life and nothing else. “Her account is what happens in our everyday life. If we end up taking nice photos of her during the day or when we travel, that’s when we post. Crazy Hair Day in school, Linggo ng Wika, Halloween—these are the times we dress her up."

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On Olivia:Sweatshirt, P12,080, CHIARA FERRAGNI, Distinqt, Shang at the Fort. Corduroy shorts, P1295, MANGO, UP Town Center. Hand bag, P2295, CALL IT SPRING, Greenbelt 3. Pearl embellished shades, P795, ALDO ACCESSORIES, Bonifacio High Street. Boost 350, YEEZY, model's own.

On the models: Vest, price unavailable, YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376. Trousers, price unavailable, BON HANSEN, cel. no. 09262432711. Sandals, P4895, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street. Top, price unavailable, YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376. Sequinned top, belt, & skirt, stylist’s own. Coat & dress, prices unavailable, both YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376. Pumps, P5395, ALDO, Bonifacio High Street.

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Tracksuit, P1800, ADIDAS, Greenbelt 3.


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On Olivia: White button down shirt, P1495, MANGO, UP Town Center. Red pumps, price unavailable, ALDO, Greenbelt 3.

A quick scan of her dedicated, verified Instagram account shows us why she is a hit—and why her dad speaks the truth: candid poses shot in natural light, imperfect ponytails, and casual dressing. Olivia’s style savvy lies in her combination of approachable charm and toddler-appropriate styling. Whereas the likes of Coco Pink Princess are celebrated on Instagram for their editorial approach to kid dressing, Olivia brings in the numbers by being herself.

At home, Olivia loves wearing her princess gowns and walks around and waves to their helpers the way beauty queens do. As most girls her age, she too is a fan of poufy skirts and anything glittery and sparkly. “But she’s a shoes and accessories kind of girl,” GP adds.


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On Olivia: Denim jacket, P1695, MANGO, UP Town Center. Floral brocade pants, P1490, H&M, Robinson's Magnolia. Floral brocade double-breasted suit, P1990, H&M, Robinson's Magnolia. Shirt, P1000, ADIDAS, Greenbelt 3. Tiny shades, P795, ALDO ACCESSORIES, Bonifacio High Street. Glitter belt bag, ALDO ACCESSORIES, Bonifacio High Street. Shoes, MELISSA, model's own.

On the models: Top & trousers, prices unavailable, both YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376.  Dress, P3995, MANGO, UP Town Center. Pumps, P2599, CHARLES & KEITH, Power Plant Mall.  Long sleeve top, P1495, MANGO, UP Town Center.  Cami top, prince unavailable, YONG DAVALOS, cel. no. 09173087376.  Skirt, price unavailable, YVES CAMINGUE, cel. no. 09176774633. Heels, P2599, CHARLES & KEITH, Power Plant Mall.

On the set, she is quite the trooper, too. Olivia went on to shoot four layouts instead of two, did not throw tantrums, and was in the mood to try on more clothes even after the team had wrapped. When her mom Andi said that the shoot was over, she was still running around the studio wearing a pair of boots intended for one of the grown-up models.

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Whether Olivia has an idea that she is already a social media star, GP says, “She gets curious that people say hi to her and know her name. She thinks that everyone is being friendly—but lately she recognizes herself on the vlog, and watches other kids’ vlogs, too. So she semi understands that it's some people's personal way of sharing their experiences and lives online. When she is old enough to understand the responsibilities that come with being her own social media personality, she will receive the controls to her accounts. But as for what lies ahead, that’s all up to her.”


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BUILD YOUR BRAND AND PROTECT IT: BEA SAMSON, DESIGNER

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“I made a choice at the very beginning of my career, and I told myself I want to be fashion designer who can grow globally. I wanted a brand that is Filipino, and one that can be appreciated and hopefully loved also by foreigners,” says Bea Samson, the designer behind the label Studio Paraluman. The young designer, also once a PEFT awardee and SLIM’s alum, has been successful in presenting her work at Filipino and regional fashion functions alike in the last five years or so—and is gearing up for collections and international fashion weeks to come.

Through Studio Paraluman, Bea creates clothes that references Filipino culture minus the trappings of Filipiniana: suits, separates, and dresses with international appeal but laced with Pinoy back stories. She believes that this visual is what the global market wants from Filipino brands. “I always aim to showcase Filipino talent, and to also prove that Filipino designs do not mean they always are native-looking or made of indigenous materials."

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"We truly have beautiful creations using our native materials, but we, Filipino talents, can do so much more, be so much more.”

Bea has her work all cut out, in the name of being and doing so much more. “To make my designs even more interesting, I want to incorporate embroidery and beading and experiment more using fabric and dart manipulation techniques. I’ve also always wanted to explore different types of printing more—be it printing on fabrics, on paper, or other materials. For prints on fabrics, I’ve been doing digital prints, so now I want to try screen printing and even doing hand-painted work.”

She also intends to make Studio Paraluman a creative space, and in the future, undertake projects beyond fashion design. “I also want to do collaborations with talents from other fields of interest such as art, film, and music.”

Going global in the next ten years is her dream. “It is very important for me to create and connect with a bigger network of industry players, and also to market my brand more here and overseas,” she shares. The designer wants to participate in more fashion shows overseas and is looking into more suppliers (for fabrics, for instance) as well as distributors and stockists abroad, beginning in Asia. She is also looking into doing pop-ups or showrooms and participating and organizing in workshops and seminars for fellow creatives.

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But first, a critical step towards an international direction: “I hope to not encounter infringers of my trademark rights and unfair competitors. I made sure I registered my brand, Paraluman®, even before I started with the first collection.”

SEE THINGS FROM ALL POSSIBLE ANGLES: NICOLE CRUZ, JOURNALIST

Fashion writer Nicole Cruz’s observations of digital content consumption habits are as accurate as her recollection of details from many a fashion show from night before. “People will know more and more things but not necessarily understand what those things are truly about,” she says, as if seeing for herself how a random digital-first reader—or non-reader—takes in information at any given time. “I guess it's the addictive scrolling and the ephemeral satisfaction of reading clickbait articles. Those things can only make you understand so little. That case is IF fashion media is still consumed through digital touchscreens.”

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She continues, “What if in the future, things got [even more] virtual? What if you could actually BE at a fashion show? What if you could TRY on the clothes and get a feel of the designs yourself? I think that's my optimistic view on fashion media's future: one where we not only know more but understand more because of how immersed we hopefully are in the info provided us."

"In a word, I hope fashion media is more filtered and thoughtfully created no matter what kind of technologies are available.”

Considering, too, how social media has allowed most anyone with an opinion to have an audience, she holds on to her journalist title with more discretion. “I'm preparing for 2028 not by hopping on bandwagons but by finding my niche—no matter how uncommon it may be. In a future where everyone wants to be heard and probably wants to conform, I think the key to staying afloat in a dynamic industry is to find your voice. Everyone has an edge whether it's a specific approach to topics or a certain area of interest you're particularly adept in. For example, I find that I am most comfortable—and most myself—when I write about social narratives found in fashion trends or collections. I'm also an advocate of ethical fashion which is something I hope to see more coverage on in the future.”

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Nicole has this dream of covering for Preview all the way from Paris and for her byline to also appear in fashion titles outside of the Philippines. But she has her eye on publications of other disciplines as well. She specifically mentions business—she’s a big marketing buff—and social development. “Hopefully by that time, those areas will have larger audiences.”

INNOVATE TO STAND OUT: CHARISMA LICO, PHOTOGRAPHER

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If you are one to read the credits of a magazine cover or fashion editorial, or are constantly on the lookout for new photographers, you will have observed that the name Charisma Lico has never been more credited and uttered than this year. 2018 is Charisma’s breakout year—she gets work opportunities alongside the Mark Nicdaos and BJ Pascuals of this world—and the prospect of being one of pinoy fashion and advertising’s biggest photographers in the next ten years is highly likely.

“There are still so many things for me to learn,” Charisma insists, not resting on this year’s career highs. “I’m open to the idea of traveling more or even getting to experience to work abroad for a short period of time—to see and learn other people’s culture, work ethic, discipline, and aesthetic. But right now, my preparation would not really be a one-time, giant step but small ones to improve my craft and become even more consistent.”

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Charisma notes that she lives in an era where practically everyone wants to become a photographer—or has the skills and technology “for the ‘gram”. “Through the advancement of technology and different social media platforms, more people are learning more about photography with the aim of having good visual content for social media."

"With the emergence of different mobile apps, a lot of people are getting more insights on how to produce good images, and with constant practice, I will not be surprised if these people will also become professional photographers if they aspire to.”

She furthers that the demand for brand- and media-driven content has made photography a lucrative career option for many individuals in her age group—and that standing out could be a budding photographer’s greatest hurdle. “The challenging part in this content-driven profession is to create something that will make a mark. There is a strong possibility to get noticed more when a photographer presents innovative ideas since more clients and content consumers are always up for something new,” the in-demand, stand-out photographer says, speaking from a place of truth.

STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE: DANAE VERNISSE DIPON, STYLIST

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As in passionate romances that come to an end, fashion breakups are not always the amicable kind. When Brad Goreski moved out of power stylist Rachel Zoe’s shadow to come into his own, their rift made the rounds on the internet and was exaggerated on their respective cable shows. But the upside? Brad’s world opened up and his styling business grew beyond in ways being someone else’s assistant could not offer.

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Fortunately, Danae Dipon’s departure from Liz Uy’s StyLIZed Studio had none of the exaggerated-for-cable dramatics that their Hollywood counterparts endured. There is no bad blood between both stylists either.

“Leaving [Liz’s company] was a very big, scary step for me as it has been my life for 5 years. I was given opportunities that I never imagined myself doing and they have helped me grow in so many ways and I am really beyond grateful for that.”

If anything, stepping out of her comfort zone has made her plan for the long-term. “Going independent made me pause and think of what I want to do now. I love art, fashion, and I’m starting to develop an interest in creative direction, though styling will always be my first love. So building on what I have in my hands so far, I compiled all my works and I’ve now completed my own website! And of course, being more active on social media because it’s essential for us in fashion to make ourselves relevant and visible.”

The stylist-future creative director has her sights on the rest of the world. “I will definitely still be styling covers, editorials, and campaigns but this time for both local and international brands, companies and agencies. I have also developed a love for runway styling so you’ll also probably see me running around the backstage of NYFW shows or running on the streets doing last minute errands a few years from now. I really love that kind of adrenaline rush. A girl can dream, right?”

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CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO: BELLE RODOLFO, CONTENT EXECUTIVE FOR SOON TO LAUNCH ONLINE BEAUTY RETAIL SITE FREYJA

Moving to the brand side of the beauty industry after being Preview's associate beauty editor for years, Belle Rodolfo’s career switch came at a very exciting time. While the worlds of fashion and beauty have had a symbiotic relationship in terms of trend forecasting and retail through the years, Belle—equipped with an editorial eye and business acumen—sees a change in this relationship in the aspects of art and commerce.

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“Beauty is no longer just an accessory to fashion—the former could influence the latter now,” she declares. “The fact that before Pat McGrath, being a runway makeup artist and creator of runway beauty looks wasn't a thing, was a step out of beauty being an extension or add-on to the fashion world. Now, a beauty world exists completely out of fashion—not to say you can't be both into beauty and fashion but there are pretty clear extremes.

"For example, a strict fashion girl would say, ‘I don't need makeup’ whereas a strictly beauty girl will walk out in sweats but not without a full beat face.”

Belle goes on to say that beauty has grown into something that is somewhat independent of fashion trends. “People have never been so obsessed with beauty as much as they are now. Since it’s an era of creating and digital creators, you can never expect what people will come up with next: silicone sponges, using your Louboutins to draw your cat eye, dried glue for aesthetic tears. It gets very gimmicky, kind of absurd, even. So in a way then, beauty grows on its own not apart from fashion but alongside it—maybe even meeting it back at that crazy or avant garde point. Beauty is no longer just an accessory to what outfit you're wearing. Your lipstick is no longer just something to match your shoes!” she says. “A couple of seasons ago, MAC came out with a trends presentation and one trend category, while named something else, was literally inspired by ‘Instagram makeup.’ How makeup on that social media platform looks so perfect and so plakado and so... uniform, that it's become a whole genre of a beauty look altogether—it's that powerful now. What more in the future?”

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Especially now that beauty has evolved from an ideal to an all-inclusive concept that renders previous size and skin ideals obsolete, Belle expects more from the businesses that make beauty profitable. “I just feel like, for an entire world and industry saying they are creating things and making life easier for women, it feels like very few brands actually think of who they cater to. It's like they forget the whole soul of what BEAUTY is about NOW.” She continues, “They just view them as consumers, [a source of revenue.] I think what made Glossier such a disruptor, apart from the tight marketing combo of affordable merchandise, approachable voice, and aspirational-but-relatable aesthetic, its foundress, Emily Weiss, had a sincere cause behind it. She wanted something that for once didn't tell women, ‘You need to buy ___ because you need to look ____.’”

ADAPT, REINVENT, EXCITE: NIELLI MARTINEZ, AD & PROMO ASSISTANT FOR SUYEN CORP.

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It is second nature for Nielli Martinez—whose position within the retail giant behind Bench, Human, Kashieca and a host of other brands has her in the contact lists of many an editor—that to cheer for Pinoy talent and products despite the threat posed by massive foreign brands. The advertising and promotions executive enthuses, “Despite the influx of global competitors, I still think Filipino brands are at an advantage because they know the local market better, and that should make it easier for them to reach out to their customers and give them precisely what they need—or what they didn't know they needed.”

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Nielli says it almost patriotically, like a retailer’s version of love for country, despite impediments such as colonial mentality or opportunities in creative direction. “I've noticed that brands are inclined to do what international brands do, probably because that's perceived to be ‘better’ or ‘cooler,’” she explains. “There's also that tendency for local brands to mirror each other's concepts—campaigns, events, creative executions, you name it. You ever get that feeling that brands are starting to look the same? I've always believed that there's a way to compete without copying or recycling another entity's efforts."

"I know for a fact that Filipinos are resourceful and inventive—I've seen it—so I hope to see this manifest in local retail in the years to come.”

With technology becoming more affordable and online shopping becoming a fast-growing practice in the country, Nielli advocates the complementary existence of both platforms—but with unwavering faith in the tactile retail experience. “I am all for Filipinos becoming more technologically advanced and having more options readily available at our disposal so I definitely understand why a lot of people are getting into the online shopping habit. But I still believe in the magic of walking into a store, seeing products, and actually touching them or trying them on, and I know a lot of us still want that, too. While online shopping offers us convenience, a brick-and-mortar gives us more of an experience. Let's not forget the immediate gratification from walking out of a store with an exciting new purchase in hand.”

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She still sees a bright future in Pinoy retail despite market challenges and global phenomena that threaten her industry’s traditions—as long as brands take a step in the right direction. “More than anything, I think a strong sense of identity and adaptability allow Filipino retail players to stay in the race. You have to know your brand—what you stand for, what you're selling, who you're selling to. It's also important to reinvent every now and then. Adapt. Figure out what works, veer away from what doesn't. It's the reinvention that keeps things exciting both for the retailers and their customers.”

Produced by Marj Ramos

Photographed by Shaira Luna (Olivia) and Charisma Lico (Keli)

Contributing Creative Director Vince Uy

Art Directed by Mark Buenaobra

Co-produced by Yanna Lopez

Makeup by Mikka Marcaida for NARS Cosmetics (Keli)

Hair by Jan Edrosolan (Olivia) and Mong Amado (Keli)

Olivia Reyes and Keli Teo styled by Danae Dipon

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Stylist's assistant: Faith Benitez

Models styled by Joy Bernardo of Stylized Studio

Stylist's assistant: Aia Tabuzo

Shoot Assistant: Teresita Gabat

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