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Robin Tomas finally makes it back home |


Robin Tomas finally makes it back home

- Ana G. Kalaw - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Three years ago, Robin Tomas, fresh from a designing stint at Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and J. Crew, came home to Manila to show his countrymen, for the very first time, what he learned from spending a decade in New York City: that to be able to make good designs, a designer first has to “stay focused and be in touch with his true self as a designer.” For his first show for Philippine Fashion Week in 2009, Tomas came up with a collection that was inspired by exotic Asian locales and luxurious fabrics rather than that season’s prevailing trends. The show proved his mettle and gave the Philippines a glimpse of the talent of a man, who up until that time, was known as Tessie Tomas’s son.

Soon after that Fashion Week, Tomas flew back to New York and was absent from the Philippine fashion scene. Now Tomas has made a comeback that was greeted with quite a buzz, mainly because of his collaboration with Penshoppe and because Gossip Girl sweetheart Leighton Meester walked down the recent Philippine Fashion Week runway wearing one of the brightly-colored tops that is part of the capsule collection Tomas designed for the casual clothing brand.

But beyond the thrill of PFW, Tomas is excited about another prospect: opening his own shop in Manila. “After the great boost of doing my own show in Manila in 2009, I needed to see where (my designs) can go in New York,” muses the Parsons-educated designer. Back in Manhattan, his own label Tomas is carried in trendy boutiques such as Anik on Madison Ave. and Ina Soho on Thompson St. With these further accomplishments under his belt, Tomas decided that it was time to go back home. “I always believe in the right timing. And in my heart I feel that the time has come to be more visible and accessible to the Philippine market.”

His latest collection for spring/summer 2012 reacquaints us with the aesthetics that he first introduced in 2009: womenswear that is sophisticated, elegant and undeniably wearable. This new set includes “breezy, cheerful, pieces inspired by the coastal towns of Italy.” Tangerine bubble dresses, chic gaucho pants, printed jumpsuits were all created to best show of golden tans of jetsetting ladies while more structured dresses and peacoats give style credibility to the corporate office goer.

The Manila-based atelier caters more to made-to-order clients but his ready-to-wear pieces are now selling at Myth in Greenbelt 5. He plans to make Manila his main manufacturing base, where he will centralize his production for his lines for New York, the Philippines and the rest of Asia. (Tomas is looking to introduce his designs to the Hong Kong market soon.)

Many will question Tomas’ decision to come back and open shop in Manila, particularly at a time when Filipino designers and their talent are just gaining attention in the international fashion scene, but it seems to be a matter of nostalgia for Tomas. “I do not want to be a name and face Filipinos see from far away,” he says. “I want them to see my work and I want to personally design for them.”

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Tomas is available in the Philippines at Myth Greenbelt 5. Robin Tomas for Penshoppe is available at Penshoppe stores.

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