By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
As it acknowledged that the Philippines has lost its competitiveness in the “fast fashion” segment on continuing decline in the country’s textile and garment manufacturing industry, the Board of Investments (BOI) has decided to look at opportunities in the “sustainable fashion” and “upcycler” sectors, which use indigenous materials and fabric scraps (retazo) to produce high-value but low-volume apparel and fashion accessories.
BOI Director Corazon Halili-Dichosa said at the press conference for the 2nd Philippine Garment, Textile, Leather Expo set on December 5-8 at the SMX Convention Center that they are working with a Taytay garments as partner for sustainable fashion. This group is using indigenous materials to produce high-value garments for the export market.
“We don’t have strong textile industry and that also affects the competitiveness of Philippine garments. We are trying to find our niche sector because we cannot rely on fast fashion. So, we have to develop a niche market but premium and high-local value addition,” she said.
According to Dichosa, the only textile manufacturing left in the country is a denim textile plant.
The lack of domestic textile manufacturing in the country has made it difficult for local garment manufacturers to produce fast fashion, which is largely the inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. But, she said, that sustainable fashion is flourishing especially for the export market.
“Sustainable fashion is an opportunity for the Philippines,” Dichosa said citing the very creative and ingenuity of the local labor force. Sustainable fashion, which calls for the use of local materials and locally produced fabric, has social relevance with high-local value addition and design-driven commands premium that should pave the way for its economic viability.
Although the Taytay fashion group is still relatively small, Dichosa said they have already booked orders. During their meeting, the group also raised the issue of incentives.
Aside from the Taytay Group, the BOI is also working with a network of fashion revolutionaries, a group of 9 designers using scraps from different garment manufacturers from Region 4A and Mindanao that they recycle and transform into clothing and other fashion accessories.
Using scraps from garment manufacturers, these upcycler designers have recycled fabric scraps to come up with new products such as T-shirts, handbags, purses that can be supplied to the local market and even for exports.
By developing these two segments, Dichosa said the Philippines can carve a high-value but low-volume niche in the garment and apparel sector.
The challenge though is the sustainability of sourcing indigenous materials and scraps for the upcyclers. These two groups have also raised the issue of government assistance to scale up their niche products.