LOOK: Jerome Lorico designs the future of protective gears

Published February 26, 2021, 12:16 PM

by John Legaspi

Jerome Lorico and his Icarus hood

The day we put on those face masks was the very moment we knew fashion, as mighty as it may seem, is not immune to the pandemic. But instead of letting its threads weaken, industry creatives took it as another chapter of fashion history and merged science and design to create pieces that will help keep one’s health without compromising style. 

The latest to showcase a designer’s take on pandemic dressing is Jerome Lorico, with his hood that helps not only in lessening the spread of the virus, but also makes wearing protective gears while traveling easy and functional. Made of recycled fiber with anti-droplet properties, Jerome’s innovation, the Icarus hood, doubles as a travel companion with its detachable neck pillow—and that is just one of its many features.

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with the Filipino designer as he shares more about the inspiration of the hood and his time designing during the pandemic.

What inspired you to design the Icarus hood?

The Icarus hood is part of our small design lab project called Icarus kit. We have been able to release the Icarus mask in the middle of the pandemic and now we are introducing the hood. In a few weeks we are also releasing another accessory still part of this ongoing capsule collection. All of these individual pieces are meant to help people to move forward into a new world. Ever since the start of the pandemic, it’s been really difficult for us not just to move around but also finding products in the market that are not just practical and useful but also affordable. This inspired us to start creating products that are not just aesthetically pleasing but also designed in a very technical and thoughtful way. 

Icarus is a character in a Greek myth. The story tells how he escaped together with his father from the prison of the labyrinth by creating man-made wings. Of course, people would usually remember him as the boy who flew too close to the sun and eventually fell into the open ocean. But aside from this tragic end, this story teaches us a few valuable lessons in life: discipline, patience, ingenuity, and courage. These are values that we also need now more than ever. We believe that man is meant to always move forward, to endure, and to forge into the future through the strength of his spirit and indomitable faith. 

True to the core principles of our brand, we are creating products that are inspired not just by the current challenges that the world is experiencing, but also by stories of different cultures of humanity, and on how they move us forward from the ancient to the modern world. 

How was the process of creating it? What were the challenges and discoveries you encountered?

The Icarus kit is a direct reaction to what we are experiencing right now. In our brand, we always aspire to have a connection not just with people but with the kind of reality that we are facing. We try our best to be receptive and to tap into the current frequency of the world. Fashion after all is nothing but the reflection of modern times. So we used this as our launching pad and started working around our common experiences being in a lockdown. 

We took notes on what can be done to improve existing protective accessories specifically face masks and face shields. We started using the data not just to arrive with improved products but also creating totally new and hybrid ideas of protective gear. The prototype stage was particularly difficult given the fact that our usual production speed and process is not the same because of travel restrictions. But eventually we have developed a new system in order to be more productive. Looking for the right fabric and materials was also a challenge. Designing the pieces in the Icarus kit requires not just the notion of comfort but also very technical details like the ability of the material to control or repel harmful agents. In the end, we were able to use not just a fabric that has anti-droplet properties, but we also arrived with a design that is simple, practical, and safe. 

How was it working this pandemic? Are you planning to produce a collection soon?

Working in this city in the middle of the pandemic is definitely challenging. In our industry, creativity is a requirement. And as designers, we are inspired by things that we see, new experiences, and meeting interesting people. But since everything stopped and stood on a pause, we were left with nothing but the walls and corners of our homes or offices. This proved to be very difficult for me. As of today we had been in the lockdown for almost a year. Although I can walk in the park or buy my groceries without much restrictions as before, our city and our world is not the same anymore. Still, we dream of better days. This idea of hope is where I get my inspiration and the will to keep designing for now. Icarus and his father Daedalus were inspired to make wings to make their great escape by looking up in the sky and seeing birds fly. Maybe this is what we all need to do as well.  

What do you miss the most from our pre-pandemic time?

I miss going to the cinema. I miss seeing crowds and feeling the collective energy and vibe of people. The life of any city doesn’t come from the lights of the buildings, the factories, or the malls. It has always been the people, we give life to cities, to countries, to economies. So if there’s a way for me to make people feel a little bit more alive, I will keep designing, maybe wings, or even just something as simple as a hood or a mask.

The Icarus Hood retails for P1,500. To know more about the product visit @lorico_official on Instagram or send an email to [email protected].