Jess Connelly partners with TOQA for typhoon relief fundraiser

Published November 28, 2020, 11:52 AM

by Kerry Tinga

Reworked and redesigned JCON merch up for raffle; sustainable fashion that looks good and does good

As many of us rush to aid those in need in the aftermaths of recent typhoons (which is a good thing), we also ought to make sure that we don’t inadvertently become part of the larger problem (which is a not-so-good thing). Case in point: merch fundraisers are a great way to give something to those in need and get something in return, but the fashion industry is a huge contributor to climate change, which leads to extreme weather occurrences becoming more and more common.

I know, it sucks.

That is why I was so excited, relieved, inspired, and more when I came across the JCON x TOQA Bagyo Relief Bundle raffle. Singer-songwriter Jess Connelly partnered with TOQA, an amazing fashion brand that I talked about here, who reworked old JCON merch into new silhouettes and face masks for an online fundraiser.

In each bagyo relief bundle, there is: one muscle tee, one “baby j” sando, two Gemini face masks, and one metallic TOQA tote bag made from upcycled fabrics.

The retail value of the limited edition bundles is ₱8,750, but all 40 bundles are up for raffle with a ticket costing just ₱200 (or five for ₱500 or 10 for ₱1,000). All the profits from the raffle will go to help families and small, local businesses affected by the typhoons through long-term aid initiatives recommended by Fund the Forest PH.

Check out what is in the bundle with leading RnB artist Jason Dhakal and seasoned DJ Butta B “modeling the merch like it’s nobody’s bidness:”

Raffle tickets are available for purchase on the TOQA website at until Dec. 15. Entering the raffle entitles the entrant to 20 percent off on any other TOQA purchase. Two winners will be announced every day on TOQA’s Instagram stories starting Dec. 1.

‘We’re storytellers’

Jess Connelly has often been spotted wearing the striking pieces of TOQA, who even made custom outfits for the Filipino-Australian pop star’s music video “On My Way Up.” The collab has arguably been a long time coming as they had always wanted to work on something together.

As the tragedies of 2020 piled on one another, it felt like an opportune time to not simply collaborate, but create a project that had larger, more profound implications rooted in sustainability and helping those in need.

“On a Zoom spanning three countries and three hours, we talked about how life had changed since Covid, the horrors of typhoon season, skincare, the inherent beauty and sadness of loving a place and its people while being distanced from it at the same time,” says Isabel Sicat and Aiala Rickard, co-founders of TOQA who met while they were both studying at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). “Our calls were meditations on privilege, humanity, and friendship.”

“We’re storytellers,” they remember Jess saying during one of their calls.

“It’s true,” Isabel and Aiala add. “TOQA speaks through art, and JCON through music, but we both share a desire to impart emotion through our craft. And we didn’t want to be passive observers in the wake of such destruction.”

‘We didn’t want to be passive observers in the wake of such destruction.’

So they took Jess’s old merchandise and breathed new life, new purpose, into them. Unstitching every garment to create wholly matching sets, they made sure that nothing was wasted. Despite being upcycled, the final designs are evocative of TOQA’s contemporary, tropical aesthetic popular.

TOQA’s Moodyisle collection with Isabel Sicat (front middle) and Aiala Rickard (front right) / Photo taken by Borgy Angeles courtesy of TOQA

“This year has been relentless. Pandemic, typhoon come typhoon, with still more to come. In the wake of such ruin, we’re worried about the long-term livelihoods of many Filipinos,” the TOQA founders tell us. “The world’s attention span is short, and we need to invest in sustainability–helping families and small local businesses rebuild for the long-run–if we want a shot at making it through 2020.”

Raffle entries cost ₱200 for one entry, ₱500 for five entries, and ₱1,000 for ten entries. The raffle entries are available for purchase until Dec. 15 throug The raffle winners will be announced on Instagram at starting Dec. 1. All profits will go to long-term aid initiatives for typhoon relief.