Fashion revolution

B HIVE - Bianca Salonga -

There was once a time in local fashion when clothes, especially for men, were completely devoid of color and print. Then came Randy Ortiz — the Prince of Prints — whose new proposition to style breathed new depth to fashion. Today, as this fashion innovator enters retail and ventures into socially responsible fashion, will he revolutionize local fashion yet again?

As the go-to designer for the country’s most stylish celebrities and red-carpet regulars, Randy Ortiz has been celebrated and beloved for his refreshing and breakthrough design propositions season after season. Just recently, he revolutionized casual dressing yet again when he presented for Philippine Fashion Week the Randy Ortiz for Bench line. A collaborative project with Bench, Randy’s line for the retail brand proposed a chic and sophisticated alternative to one’s otherwise ordinary T-shirt. “The idea behind this collection is to explore the many possibilities of a shirt. So I asked myself, ‘How do I go about this T-shirt’?” explained Ortiz.

Utilizing digital prints, which were created by the designer himself, the collection proved to be one of the most anticipated and widely celebrated for the season. Only minutes after his show, many among the style cognoscenti were immediately raving his pieces. He reflected, “I think that more than anything, this collection tells the story of how I began in the industry. I can say that with this collection, I have gone full circle.” It was in the ‘90s when Ortiz began in fashion by introducing a new alternative to men’s fashion. His penchant for quirky prints and bold colors, back in the day, were ideas considered utterly new-fangled and even radical. It did not take long, however, before Manila stylish set took his lead and began to embrace Ortiz’s playful yet clever approach to dressing. At around the same time, he also began his foray into women’s wear. “For a while, I was referred to as the ‘Prince of Prints’,” revealed Ortiz, whose current collection boasts a perfect combination of prints (such as polka dots and paisley) and unexpected bold colors. There is a celebratory mood about the designer’s work that befits his sunny disposition.

“I am busier than ever and I am very happy and excited about future projects. Although I am always running from one appointment to another or meeting deadlines, I don’t feel the stress or fatigue,” he declared. Aside from his collection for Bench, Ortiz is also busy attending to his made-to-measure clients. During the afternoon of this interview, for instance, he had a bride to attend to. And although he has dressed countless brides -— including stars like Claudine Baretto and Lucy Torres-Gomez — his enthusiasm for his craft never seems to dwindle. Ortiz shared that although catering to clients for weddings or special events keeps him energized and motivated, he feels most at home with retail perhaps due to the simple fact that he began in the industry with retail as his prime orientation.

Ortiz stated, “For me, couture is a journey and retail is home.” He admitted that in retail, there are many factors and elements to take into account such as fabric selection, color, design and size. “You are talking to a larger audience and so these elements play an integral part of the design process. You want to reach out to this larger audience and the way to do this is to be accessible without compromising your design integrity,” explained Ortiz. Working with a retail brand, he disclosed, has also been a very fulfilling endeavor to partake in. “I think that partnerships such as these benefit both the brand and the designer. As a brand, you are able to reach out to an extended market through the designer and the clout that he brings with him. For designers, collaborations like these allow you to speak to a larger audience. I think that ultimately, all brands need to have a creative head and not just a pool of designers and stylists so that their vision comes across more clearly with a more defined direction,” he opined.

Having gained much success in both retail and made-to-measure, Ortiz is far from resting on his laurels. “I have been very blessed in this business and after all the years, I think that now is the time for me to give back,” he shared. Ortiz, who has recently partnered with Gawad Kalinga to help support its local communities, launched an accessories line during the Gawad Kalinga Hope Ball in October using the Tausug’s t’nalak weaves. Each of the pieces in the collection perfectly merged traditional craftsmanship with Ortiz’s global design direction. Obi belts, purses, totes, iPad holders and clutches were ingeniously created by Ortiz to exemplify how local materials such as the t’nalak can be utilized in contemporary fashion. Furthermore, this project was aimed to explore the possibility of creating sustainable enterprises for local communities. “Unknown to many, I am a son of South Cotabato. I could not think of any better way to make a homecoming after 30 years than by using our indigenous weaves.” He further shared that he is also currently fine tuning the product development of another accessories line using a local Sulu weave. Ortiz hinted, “Working with the communities in these areas keep me inspired. Imagine, the women of Sulu weave these fabrics all by hand and they get their design inspirations from their dreams! I am still in product development but I can tell you as early as now that this collection will have a very strong Missoni feel to it.”

In true Randy O. form, he approaches each and every endeavor with a global perspective. When asked about his retail projects in the future, he smiled mysteriously and said, “I will be exploring retail in greater measure in the coming days. It’s going to be very exciting.”








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