Memorable firsts in Tokyo for this maximalist surface pattern designer

By Joyce Reyes-Aguila

A beginner in the global fashion stage, Feanne mustered enough courage and took her creativity to Tokyo to join fellow Filipino designers for a mentorship program and exhibition. She came home richer in experience and knowledge, thankful that a path has been cleared for her in the fashion industry.

Every opportunity comes with many possibilities. For designer Feanne, this became true in many ways when she participated in the PHx Tokyo program this year. 

For her PHx Tokyo collection, Feanne (in photo) used her signature ornate illustrated style for prints and tailored it to the Japanese market.

Feanne was in disbelief when she was selected to be part of the project that supports fashion and accessory designers through mentorship, culminating with a sales exhibit in Japan. “I felt very unqualified,” she reveals to Newsfeed 360. “I’m more of a print designer and I don’t have a formal background in fashion.”

PHx Tokyo brought many firsts to the designer, who describes herself as “an artist from the Philippines specializing in illustrated patterns for printed fabric and wallpaper” on her website, She describes her Tokyo stint as her “first foray” into selling to Japanese wholesale buyers, and exporters in general. Feanne’s creations had reached Japan in the past when she participated in holiday trunk shows organized by fashion consultant Tetta Ortiz-Matera, who is the brains behind PHx Tokyo. 

For her ready-to-wear offerings that included dresses, kimonos, and scarves, the designer chose colors and silhouettes that are easy to wear.

Feanne, along with seven Filipino brands – Lorico, Bagasao, HA.MU, J Makitalo, Jill Lao, Kelvin Morales, and Neil Felipp – attended workshops and received mentorship from Ortiza-Matera, H3O Fashion Bureau fashion director Jason Lee Coates and marketing and business director Hirohito Suzuki. According to its website, H3O offers “an integrated solution to sales and communications activities using a comprehensive, bespoke approach” and “high-level support and strategic advice for its highly curated selection of international brands and clients.”

The designer, who shares on her site that her “art typically features stylized Philippine flora and fauna,” underwent portfolio reviews and workshops with her fellow participants on various processes in fashion, such as building and sustaining a brand’s appeal especially to the international market. “Learning about the Japanese market was especially fascinating, because it’s different from what I had expected,” she explains. 

Feanne’s art typically features stylized Philippine flora and fauna.

For her PHx Tokyo collection, Feanne used her “signature ornate illustrated style for prints” and “tailored it to the Japanese market, following the mentors’ creative direction.” She adds that she was “focused on keeping the clothes wearable and easy to understand, while evoking a soft, dreamy, and delicate mood.” 

For her ready-to-wear offerings that included dresses, kimonos, and scarves, the designer chose “colors and silhouettes that are easy to wear. I have neutrals in black and ivory; blush pinks and various shades of watery blue; and serene green gardens.” 

Another first: the artist avers she finally found “a good excuse to illustrate a kawaii cat pattern.” An online search for Feanne’s Visayan Leopard Cat in Bronze & Sunset Artwork reversible silk kimono robe would show how the self-described “crazy cat person” designer was able to realize her feline-inspired vision.

Feanne is focused on keeping her collection wearable and easy to understand, while evoking a soft, dreamy, and delicate mood.

The designer’s works were featured in a three-day showroom presentation in Tokyo’s fashion district this year through the collaboration of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), H3O Fashion Bureau, and Ortiz-Matera. 

“I’m fortunate to have been able to work on the collection without leaving the house,” she says of her experience in the incubation project during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“If this program happened (without the virus), we would have been required to do a lot of in-person meetings and it would have been a headache dealing with Metro Manila traffic.

“However, the lack of in-person meetings was also a disadvantage. I would have felt more confident if the mentors had a chance to see my samples in person earlier during the production stage. It was also very challenging dealing with the fluctuating quarantine restrictions. There were times when my seamstress could not work at all due to lockdown rules. And of course, the foot traffic at the sales showroom was also affected by the pandemic,” she narrates. 

Feanne, who considers herself a beginner in terms of fashion design, shares that “there were so many times (during the program) when I felt overwhelmed and scared. I wanted to give up. I had to keep on reminding myself that I wanted to give myself this chance and see it through. I’m satisfied with what I was able to create for the program. I’m told that the buyers found my collection appealing and were pleased to have so many print options to choose from.” 

Her printed work was first exhibited and published in 2006, and Feanne started producing her line of wearable art, such as reversible kimonos and silk scarves, in 2015. She has worked with brands such as Adobe, Princesse Tam Tam (Fast Retailing), Town & Country, La Mer, Tecnografica, Sunlight Air and Shangri-la Mactan.

“While I still have a long way to go, I’ve been able to get clearer direction on my next steps, thanks to this experience,” she concludes. 

About the Writer
Joyce Reyes-Aguila

Joyce Reyes-Aguila writes lifestyle articles for various national publications when she’s not busy with her day job in HR analytics and talent operations. She loves coffee, wearing black, and Super Junior.

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