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Reimagining fashion

  • In Davao City, youths are taking the lead in promoting sustainable fashion through storytelling

COMMUNICATING sustainable fashion is a creative opportunity, the United Nations Environment Programme said in 2023 during the launch of its Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook. The body is responding to the need to address the current fashion system’s unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, which are major contributors to climate change and pollution, and waste.

The playbook acknowledged a strong element in the communication process: storytelling.

(L-R): Marga Rey-Gross, corporate communications manager at Alsons Development and Investment Corporation; Al Bejelke Zarasate, DENR-Davao Region chief of Human Resource Development; Emi Englis, president, Davao Fashion Design Council; Dr. Dennis Sumaylo, Humanities chair, University of the Philippines Mindanao; and Jovana Cresta Duhaylungsod, spokesperson and manager of the Public Information and Relations Division, Davao City Water District

The same element sits at the core of a citizen-led initiative by the Global Shapers Davao Hub. The Unstitch: Sustainable Fashion Forum sought to reimagine fashion experiences and engagements in the community through a clothing swap party and storytelling sessions. The event took place in Poblacion Market Central in time for Fashion Revolution Week, a global movement promoting sustainable fashion.

The event’s centerpiece was a clothing swap party, where attendees, bloggers, and local sustainability advocates came together to exchange garments, share styling tips, and spark meaningful conversations. Storytelling was another highlight experience of Unstitch. The public forum featured voices from diverse sectors, including fashion, government, academe, and the community.

Davao City youths swap clothes, stories, and experiences about sustainability to promote a meaningful understanding of fashion
“We can all contribute and participate in fashion that serves the people and our planet,” said Jesse Boga Madriaga, 2023 fellow of the Next Gen Assembly (Global Fashion Agenda Academy) and convenor of Unstitch from the Global Shapers Davao Hub.

“As environmental stewards, we always say that we should do our own environmental housekeeping. While we should all take care of Mother Earth but we should concentrate our efforts in taking care and nurturing our immediate environment,” said Atty. Ma. Mercedes V. Dumagan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Davao Region OIC – Regional Executive Director through a speech delivered by Mr. Al Bejelke Zarasate, DENR Davao Region Chief of Human Resource Development.

Atty. Dumagan also added: “Let’s embrace fashion with a purpose. Let’s choose clothing that reflects not just our personal style, but also our commitment to a healthy planet and a just world.”

Leaders from the Davao City government also participated in the conversations.

Hon. Councilor Pilar Braga, chairperson of the committee on education, science and technology, Arts and Culture, expressed support to the event through a message. Councilor Braga shared a provocation: What purpose should fashion serve society in critical condition?

“If we are to transform fashion and innovate to become more sustainable, it must be towards helping people understand what society is and what our responsibilities in society are. In the current crisis, fashion must support us in our goal to live healthier, longer, better, happier, and more peaceful lives,” she said.

Councilor Braga added that she believes Davaoeños will readily embrace sustainable fashion because “we have seen many of us adapt indigenous ways of living. We are also strong advocates of supporting and promoting micro and small local enterprises especially those that practice sustainable production.” 

Hon. Councilor Temujin Ocampo, chairperson of the environment and natural resources, attended the event and talked about how sustainability must always be part of our values. 

Davao City Councilor Temujin Ocampo inspired the youths with a message. He said that sustainability is a moral imperative, not just a fleeting trend.

“Let us remember that sustainability is not a trend, it’s a moral imperative, an obligation we owe to our planet and future generations. Let us choose fashion that not only looks good but does good,” he said. 

The forum saw an exchange of conversations among leaders in fashion, academe, and community through Mr. Emi Englis, President, Davao Fashion Design Council; Dr. Dennis Sumaylo, Humanities Chair, University of the Philippines Mindanao; and Ms. Jovana Cresta Duhaylungsod, Spokesperson and Manager of the Public Information and Relations Division, Davao City Water District.

In Unstitch, youths and bloggers are driving forward conversations about sustainable fashion and the roles that they play in the community as communicators

The community was a driving force of Unstitch. It saw the united efforts of the Davao Digital Creators and the Davao Bloggers Society for styling sessions, clothing swap and a runway showcase, which was masterfully captured by photo and video production house Micromedia Productions. Foodpanda and San Miguel Brewery provided support for the event.

The Unstitch: Sustainable Fashion Forum convened voices from fashion and beyond. The event is held in time for Fashion Revolution Week, a global movement that calls for reforms in the fashion system and empowers citizens to be active participants in the process.

The event animated the main hall of Poblacion Market Central all afternoon until closing time with a live DJ set by Cheekie Albay. Poblacion (and its forerunner Aldevinco Shopping Center) holds strong ties with Davao City’s history, housing local textiles, antiques, and pearl shops, championing sustainable fashion for more than five decades. It was a venue fit for conversations that helped shape fashion’s future in Davao City.

“Alsons Dev is honored to partner with Global Shapers Davao Hub for Unstitch. Beyond being a launchpad for small, starter businesses, Poblacion Market Central is also a welcoming space for creative communities to convene and champion worthwhile causes like sustainable fashion. We’re proud to join this collective effort in driving positive change within our community,” said Jolla A. Soriaga, AVP for Business Dev of Alsons Development and Investment Corporation.

“Unstitch is a continuing effort to make fashion inclusive and sustainability conversations more accessible, relatable, and meaningful through storytelling,” said Jesse Boga Madriaga, 2023 fellow of the Next Gen Assembly (Global Fashion Agenda Academy) and convenor of Unstitch from the Global Shapers Davao Hub. “Stories give us the confidence that we can all contribute and participate in fashion that serves the people and our planet.”

(The fashion conversations continue: follow @unstitchph on social media. Photos by Micromedia Productions)


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