by Jonquil Dun
“Clothes aren’t only meant to be an extension of how one presents itself but it also possesses the power that breaks boundaries and notions set upon by societal standards.”
As modest fashion in the Philippines has started to take shape, brands that cater to this market have also started coming up and the numbers just keep growing! Consumers will find it easier now to shop for designer abaya, scarves, maxi dress, and even casual ternos. And lately, we spotted a new addition to the market, that caters to the niche Gen-Z market. Streetwear fashion is unique and a category on its own. It’s full of character and not every one can wear but only the brazen of spirits.
Meet Rania Jumdail, the rising streetwear fashion designer from the South of the Philippines.
Briefly, please tell us about yourself
Curious. Ingenious. Ardent. As a designer, the aforementioned words not only describe who I am but it also correlates to how I work with the garment that I create. My niche is designing streetwear garments or clothes in general that I myself would also want to wear and style for aneveryday look. I’m a third culture kid as I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia but I flew back to the Philippines to finish my design degree at University of the Philippines. I’m a fashion management student at SDA Bocconi School of Management.
When did you start designing? Who inspires you to become a fashion designer?
Honestly, fashion design was the route that was out of the picture growing up as I was encouraged to pursue a career in the medical field. My earliest memory of my interest emerging is when I watched an episode of Diane von Furstenberg’s show called House of DVF when I was in high school. At that time, I had zero knowledge about the ropes of the fashion industry aside from the mainstream fashion brands and designers shown in social media. Eventually, I knew that fashion design was up my alley when I became interested with different streetwear garments that were being posted by fashion influencers that I follow. I started incorporating my then new found passion for streetwear clothes into class projects, case studies, and business proposals. I started to formally design when I became a design student in university. Since then, I always try to incorporate, learn and hone my craft in the different design subjects in our course. The likes of Maison Margiela, Helmut Lang, Virgil Abloh, Rhuigi Villasenor, etc. heavily influence my drive to further explore both deconstructivism and streetwear designs in my collections. I find their designs to be innovative and fashion forward which is how I want to be perceived as well in the market.
How did you come up with the name of your brand? How did the brand start? Please tell us more about your journey.
The word “EPH” is the pronunciation of the first letter of my first name. I wanted it to be personal but not too in your face at first glance. It actually started as a design project for a class that I was taking during sophomore year. I created a brand name for my first capsule collection
that I presented for our finals and from then on, I’ve started to use it for all garment studies and projects that I finish. I’d say that the journey to get to where I currently am involved a lot of sacrifices and painful growth as I had to fight against expectations from everyone around me. As a minority in this country and also being the only family member that pursued the design route, it was difficult to enter the industry, let alone set your foot at the door. It wasn’t easy but my mind was already set in the right place as I wanted to be in a field that encourages me to grow as an individual. I had to learn, strive and get the opportunities on my own in the beginning as I had no connections or people that helped me understand the technicalities of the fashion industry. Putting my doubts and fears behind while letting courage and determination run its course through my life is one of the best decisions I’ve made to end up where I am right now compared to years ago.
How do you see your brand in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I’d like the brand to start catering to menswear designs as well since a lot of my current design inspirations involve contemporary utilitarian aesthetics. Aside from that, I’d also like to collaborate with fellow streetwear and modest fashion designers as it would be interesting to create fashion forward designs that cater to different niche markets and aren’t often seen in the mainstream fashion market. The brand would have grown and expanded enough to be a familiar name in the fashion industry.
What challenges are you facing as a modest fashion designer?
As an emerging designer, it’s hard to be enclosed in one fashion category as I’m still bound to experiment and explore different design concepts that don’t necessarily fit a certain category. I also find it hard to break through and stay relevant in the mainstream as modest fashion is something yet to be introduced on a grander and larger scale in the Philippines despite it having a lucrative market. That is why I think it’s important for fashion platforms like Modest Fashion Manila to support and give voice to young designers like me who are navigating and making their way in the fashion industry.
How much has the fashion industry in your country changed since modest fashion became mainstream? Do you think modest fashion is well-accepted?
For the most part, modest fashion has always been a strong sector in the Mindanao region in the Philippines as that’s where the target market of most designers and products are situated. Now that the times and especially technology has evolved, more people have become aware of the designs that are coming from modest fashion designers and brands. But one cannot measure growth only from the place that it thrives in. That’s why I think it’s important for modest fashion to also evolve and expand in the entire country – not just Mindanao. There’s a lot of patronage when it comes to modest fashion and I think it is high time for it to become one of the recognized and celebrated style categories in the local mainstream fashion industry.
Who are your designer icons? What do you love most in their designs?
I’m immensely drawn to the works of Helmut Lang, Peter Do and Maison Margiela as their designs speak closely to my personal aesthetic. Other streetwear legends such as Rhuigi Villasenor, Virgil Abloh and Yoon Ahn are also my recent fashion icons. I most especially admire Rhuigi as we draw similarities in terms of where he came from and his rise in the fashion industry. I resonate a lot with his early days as his background story is similar to mine – third-culture kids who were raised to pursue a certain career path but then went on to defy and pursue what they’re passionate about. What I admire about Villasenor’s brand, RHUDE, is how he makes luxury streetwear, timeless. For me, his clothes make people feel cool and untouchable in an empowered kind of way and my personal style speaks closely to that.
If not a fashion designer, what would Rania be? What other goals do you want to achieve in the next 10 years?
If I’m not a fashion designer, I’d probably work as a fashion buyer or fashion merchandiser–somewhere along the lines in the business side of the fashion industry as it’s also one of things that I’m interested in and I’m currently pursuing. I know that my short- and long-term goals will shift overtime but I just hope that it gets me to where I want to be in the next ten years – proud, content and successful in her terms. I hope I can look back on this journey and be proud of the decisions and steps I took in order to be where I’ll be in the future.