Filipino designers want a stake in the U.S. fashion market through FILIPINXT

Founders Rob Mallari-D’Auria (left) and Bessie Besana. Photo by Lindy Rosales

By Lindy Rosales

“Today is all about how Filipinos are designing their way into the U.S. fashion scene,” intoned Rob Mallari-D’Auria, co-founder and CEO of FILIPINXT, which was launched at a press conference at the Philippine Consulate on April 24.

On May 5, FILIPINXT, The New Era of Philippine Fashion, will present the collections of four Filipino designers at their first fashion show at the venue 4W43. The designers to be featured   are Veejay Floresca, Bessie Besana, Michael Leyva, and Wilson Limon.  

This show is geared towards getting the Filipino community to get FILIPINXT out there, to spread the word among kababayans and find the creative talents, according to the founders. Hair and make-up will be provided by The New York Make-Up Academy which is Filipino-owned and audio-visuals by DJ Filipino Events. 

Their second fashion show is slated for September 8 and will be more aligned with the New York Fashion Week.

“We have some seriously talented folks, but we’ve never had a dedicated Filipino American fashion week in New York,” Mallari-D’Auria continued. “It is true that we’ve had some designers who’ve showcased in these events, but they’ve mostly blended into non-Filipino productions”. 

He pointed out that the U.S. fashion industry is a huge market valued at $3 trillion, employing mostly women. Filipinos would also like to have a stake in that, he said.

Pia Wurtzbach’s wedding dress is created by Bessie Besana, one of the founders of FILIPINXT. Photo:

“Let’s agree that this generation of Filipino talents is creating designs that are capturing the attention of the global audience. But they need the right platform, to put it in the bag, so to speak. And that’s FILIPINXT,” he said.

Besana, the co-founder and COO of FILIPINXT, said he wanted to make sure that the Filipino talent is represented in New York. He made a reference to the recent “RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs the World,” where a Filipino drag performer professionally known as Marina Summers got teary-eyed and said, “We don’t get the opportunity a lot back in the Philippines to be seen in an international level”.

He said that hit him so much because he felt the same way. He moved to the United States three years ago. “When I was back in the Philippines, I was really trying my best like, how do I get out, how do I move to the international market? I’ve always serviced the Filipinos, but there’s more to what we can give”. He is the designer of  2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach’s wedding dress.

“I’m so deep into the Filipino fashion industry that I know the capabilities of the Filipino talents, but there is no platform yet for us”, he continued. “So what we really want to make sure is that we amplify the voices of the Filipino talent, and this is what FILIPINXT is about”. 

Consul General Senen Mangalile said the consulate supports the FILIPINXT “collaborative venture.”

“This initiative from Manila to Manhattan showcases the collective commitment to celebrate and propel Filipino culture onto the global stage,” he said.  “We at the Philippine Center are proud to be part of this collaborative venture.”

The April 24 press event was hosted by Miss Earth 2015 Filipina beauty Angelia Ong.

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