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STYLE TALKS



WHAT IS YOUR FASHION PHILOSOPHY?I like to mix it up—a bit vintage, a bit tribal, a bit designer a bit street style. When you mix, there are no rules, you have to be confident and make it your own look. Coming from LA, the casual look is very important to master. You would never find me to be over dressed for any occasion; it’s not a good look if you’re trying too hard.


WHAT ABOUT FASHION INSPIRES YOU?

At the moment I’m very much inspired by our indigenous communities. I have so far worked with 14 indigenous communities and it’s been absolutely fulfilling. There is a certain magic and purity working with indigenous patterns and symbols that have not changed since the beginning of time. The preservation of these designs are crucial to the newfound pride that is evident in the new generation of Filipinos.


ARE YOU A SHOE OR BAG LOVER? OR BOTH?I have been a shoe designer by profession since I got out of college.For over 20 years I’ve worked in the shoe industry. It’s more difficult to make shoes than it is to make bags. So, I have great love and respect for Italian shoe makers that make beautiful shoes, which are technically correct. I produce shoes in Italy and China, and in the past year, I’ve been manufacturing shoes in Marikina. My Angkan line is made in the Philippines, and I’m doing product development and private label for different brands, with an aim to promote made in the Philippines and revive the Zapatero community in Marikina.


DO YOU ALSO LOVE TO ACCESSORIZE?

Vintage and jewelry have always impressed me more, especially now with sustainability on my mind. I do love finding vintage pieces that are really rare, made in techniques that are difficult to replicate today. The fact that it’s out of production and no longer available in quantity is what makes it super special


WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON TODAY’S FASHION?

The Slow Fashion movement has given birth to many fashion lines that prioritize the environment with limited production runs and the trend for handmade artisan items gives a more humanistic feel for fashion today. It’s a great time for made in the Philippines. This movement has led us to open a design studio in BGC to support our Angkan brand as well as providing design services to local brands. Besides, Rustans, we have collaborated with local fashion companies like Lanai, Common Thread, RSI, Manila House and Kaayo.


WHAT MAKES YOU SMILE?

It makes me happy to see made in the Philippines products appreciated outside of the Philippines. My husband is from Florence and we are happy and proud to have our products in top stores in Europe. The products are not just fashion items; they are also a means to tell a story about the makers who make them, a way to promote our people and beautiful Islands to the world.


WHAT IS THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE THUS FAR?The most defining moment of my life is realizing the importance of questioning the American dream that enticed my parents to leave their birth land. America is a land of opportunity however it’s very easy to get caught up in a dream that has no substance, especially when it’s based on profits over people, wealth over health and the individual versus family and community.


WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE SECRET TO A HAPPY LIFE?

I feel we need to accept ourselves and others for exactly who we are, live a genuine life and not what you see in magazines or social media. We need to unlearn some of the information that has somehow infiltrated our psyche. Redefine values that are really important for us as individuals, versus as a nation, as a religion or as defined by our profession.


WHAT IS NEXT FOR CAROL DE LEON?I hope to make an impact on Philippine design while providing livelihood for marginalized communities. I hope to grow not only my own brand Angkan but more importantly, participate in the growth of many other Philippine made brands through our Design and Branding studio. Besides design and private label, our services will include sourcing of materials and factories. We have access to factories in China, Italy and now in the Philippines. We’re ready to support brands and small communities in the Philippines to compete in the international market.

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