After re-reading our first blog post regarding our trip to the Philippines, I was met with some regret not mentioning this gentleman. An extremely talented fashion designer and painter, Kenneth's main source of inspiration was religion, more so specifically the iconic images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. StyleBible.ph had showcased his talent via a designer spotlight back in 2010 off his highly recognized Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2010 collection. Although he took a back seat to designing ready to wear fashion and turned his attention towards costume design for television variety shows such as ABS-CBN's ASAP and became more of a couturier designing gowns for celebrities and high profiled clients in his boutique, Kenneth was still one of the Philippines more unrecognized fashion designer talents.
When we travelled to the Philippines, we didn't know where exactly to begin our efforts, tapping into a market completely unknown to us. Menswear in general has only recently seen a spike in interest due to the Philippines present retail economy boost where as women's apparel have dominated the industry for decades. Menswear boutiques are few and far in between in the Philippines with less than a handful unlike most countries. Finally halfway into our trip, through a relative who knew Kenneth we were able to schedule a meeting. Literally on our last day staying in the downtown Makati district, we met at our hotel lobby in the Fairmont. I'm not sure what we were looking to expect out of meeting him that day. I'm not sure what he expected either, but we talked; questions about the menswear market, who to talk to, boutiques to look at, and he asked questions regarding our goals, our Elegy collection, manufacturing and inexplicably our meeting which we assumed was only going to be an hour at most, turned into a more than two hour meeting of the minds, sharing stories and tips that we had quite literally forgotten to check out of our room on time.
If it weren't for Kenneth, we would of never of met JP Singson, Lola Androgynous and Unisex Rewind. If it weren't for Kenneth, we wouldn't of known where to begin our true search for tapping into the Philippine market. He knew our garments aren't/were not made for the masses but understood that there was a loyal following of those who would take interest in it and luckily we were able to tap into them. He was the bridge to making things happen and meeting the connectors we needed to meet.
It's with deep sadness that Kenneth is no longer here with us and I refuse to comment on the blog to the incident which took his life prematurely. I only pray that there will be justice for his soul in regards to what has taken place and that his family can one day have answers to the haunting images and actions they were witness to. On behalf of the team, Kenneth, thank you for your kindness, your genuine interest in seeing our brand flourish, your interesting and funny stories that we all enjoyed and for your selflessness in an industry that usually is quite opposite. It was refreshing to meet someone like yourself and it's unfortunate that we will never have the opportunity to see you once again when we visit this year. Rest in peace.
Words by Bernard Manarin