The Philippines' 9 Emerging Fashion Designers To Look Out For

Get to know nine emerging designers–almost famous, nobly promising, with rich stories to tell.

This is an excerpt from Lifestyle Asia’s October issue. 

Le Ngok” by Carla Zhang

Carla Zhang
Carla Zhang

Fashion has no limits for designer Carla Zhang whose of-the-moment label Le Ngok is the current buzzword among industry insiders. Her distinct on-the-radar bags and accessories are the perfect mix of art + commerce. Known for pushing creative boundaries of experimental fashion design by incorporating mixed media, it’s of no surprise she caught the eye of globally renowned Filipino contemporary artist-designer Leeroy New who offered her an internship. “The biggest learning I got after interning, is that as an artist/designer, you can go across different fields and still be recognized by your own design aesthetics regardless of what fields,” says Zhang.

Carla Zhang's dress and bags
Carla Zhang’s dress and bags

Katha Pilipinas” by Daianne Moreno-Mempin

Daianne Moreno-Mempin

Kathâ Pilipinas is a home for creative brands for others, a platform established by Daianne Moreno-Mempin in 2016 with a vision to curate and showcase locally made arts and crafts. Fast forward to today, it has evolved into a creative social enterprise with a mission: to empower artist-entrepreneurs and use creativity to influence and create positive social impact in the community by bridging gaps to the less privileged.

A vest from Kathâ Pilipinas
A vest from Kathâ Pilipinas

READ ALSO: Generational Treasures: Why Modern Heirlooms Are Worth Investing In

Paolo Miguel” by Paolo Miguel Jaafar

Paolo Miguel Jaafar

A never-ending story worth telling is Paolo Miguel, where design has become a narrative of clean sophistication meets delicate charm, creating a fashion experience that is both elevated and uniquely Filipino-inspired. “We believe in the power of clothing to tell a story. Our pieces are thoughtfully designed to embody the essence of modern elegance while incorporating intricate details that pay homage to the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines,” says Jaafar.

Apron by Paolo Miguel
Apron top by Paolo Miguel

Contemporary Filipino fashion echoes through the stellar beauty of every Paolo Miguel creation. A patriotic study in sophistication is expressed through captivating and nostalgic design profusion. The designer adds, “Every garment in our collection stands as a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail that defines Filipino artistry.” 

HA.MU” by Abraham Guardian — Mamuro Oki

Abraham Guardian and Mamuro Oki

“Our ideas are drawn from child-like ways of imagining and conceptualizing what our current state is like,” says design mavericks and brand owners Abraham Guardian and Mamuro Oki. Boundless playfulness, unconventional designs , statement detailing present the seriousness of fun in fashion. They are like smiles that run deep for these De La Salle College of Saint Benilde Fashion Design and Merchandising graduates.

HA.MU pants and top
HA.MU pants and top

Scratching beyond the brand surface, these promising artists channel the energy of today’s youthful vibe. The dynamic duo says, “Our brand DNA works on the basis of rebellion, creativity,
and freedom of expression, fused with the idea of self-love and confidence.” Their impressive work and professional attitude has taken them under the spotlight that’s landed them a semi-finalist position in the 2018 Bench Design Awards. Pushing the envelope further and taking their child’s play to the next level, these young flag carriers did the country proud when they had a chance to take part in the renowned 2019 City Prince/sses exhibition in Palasis De Tokyo in Paris.

Calli Bags” by Tessa Nepomuceno 

Tessa Nepomuceno 

Ancestral crafts meet contemporary design is the soul of Calli Bags. From automobiles to fashion, former luxury car sales person turned business entrepreneur Tessa Nepomuceno is driving the road of life with a purpose. Since a decade ago, this doting mother of two boys has taken the wheel to a whole new direction by creating contemporary bags that champion the advocacy for Philippine craftsmanship, cultural preservation, and time honored tradition

Embroidered bag from Calli Bags
Embroidered bag from Calli Bags

Ana la O’

Ana la O’

There aren’t many knitwear designers in Manila, the most renowned and successful is the iconic Lulu Tan Gan. Next in line is up-and-coming designer muse Ana la O’, a breath of fresh air whose silent underground vibe is quite endearing and pleasantly unapologetic.

Philippine raw cotton knit by Ana La O'
Philippine raw cotton knit by Ana la O’

Enter the beautiful mind of this creative genius whose brand artistry is a space to develop expressive, fabric-driven projects like silk paintings and handmade knitwear featuring Philippine-grown cotton. This double degree holder (textile design at Central Saint Martins and English Literature in UCLA) prides her outstandingly made one-of-a-kind pieces that are works of art. The brand is most known for lightweight knitwear, handmade on domestic machines and expressed in natural fibers like Philippine raw cotton, organic cotton, and bamboo. Simple but mind-blowing knit pickings show attention to detail, quality of texture, and high standard of design simplicity. Such expertise reflects wisdom from past work experience with The Row (New York) and Eairth (Manila) by Melissa Dizon.

Christian Cera 

Christian Cera 

Renaissance man Christian Cera (president and designer of Christian Cera and also lead designer of R2R) has been bagging it in the industry since he started working for a manufacturing/exporting company three decades ago. His passion for fashion shines in the many masterful hats the artist has to offer.

The "Cera'ng Bayong" bag
The “Cera’ng Bayong” bag

But on his own, who or what is the brand called Christian Cera? “Slow fashion, small batch production, generally pre-order,” says the brilliant namesake bag designer. Known for the signature hand stitching in thick waxed thread, each piece is practical, functional, and made special by thoughtful details and design elements. He adds, “I am into upcycling material scraps that are designed thoughtfully beyond the typical.” What’s evident in his creations is his constant state of mindfulness and consciousness.

Idyllic Summers” by Steffi Cua 

Steffi Cua 

Idyllic Summers combines the know-how of Filipino artisans and indigenous peoples with influences of contemporary resort wear as defined by founder and creative director Steffi Cua. Breathing fashion with a purpose, each piece is handmade by skilled Filipino artisans, in the form of handweaving and/or hand-embroideries, with the aim of supporting Filipino-owned SME’s, NGO’s, co-ops, and indigenous peoples.

Designs from Idyllic Summers
Designs from Idyllic Summers

This 34-year-old genius is known for creating beautifully made resort/lounge wear with smart detailing. Her discerning eye reflects her impressive work experience as a senior buying assistant at Harrods London for the International Designers Womenswear Team (Alaia, Vetements, Magda Butrym, etc.), wholesale account executive at RainbowWave London, embroidery assistant for Martin Hanly, and senior fashion designer at Golden ABC (Tyler, Memo, Regatta, etc.).

“Pinagtagpi” by Gabby Garcia 

Gabby Garcia 

“Philippine craftsmanship inspires me to produce my pieces,” says 22-year-old Gabby Garcia–a fashion entrepreneur and graduate from Ateneo de Manila, the youngest in this group. His brand Pinagtagpi is popularly known for incorporating traditional Filipino art forms into contemporary lifestyle clothing. They present ready to wear hand painted pieces, mother of pearl buttons, and cowrie shells details for both men and women.

Top and skirt from Pinagtagpi
Top and skirt from Pinagtagpi

In the last year or two, Pinagtagpi’s growing popularity has led them to becoming a staple in trade shows and pop ups such as Maarte, Katutubo, Balanghai, and Artefino–where they were recently awarded as one of the winners of the 2023 Totally Upcycled Challenge.

Read more by purchasing a copy of the Lifestyle Asia October 2023 magazine via or select newsstands in National Bookstore and Fully Booked. Subscribe to the E-Magazine via Readly, Magzter, and Press Reader.

Photos by Kieran Punay of KLIQ Inc.

Shop for LIFESTYLE ASIA’S magazines through these platforms.
Download LIFESTYLE ASIA’s digital magazines from:
Subscribe via [email protected]