Style & Fashion

#ChalkExclusive: How This 19-Year-Old Designer Advocates For Sustainability Through Her Own Brand

#ChalkExclusive: How This 19-Year-Old Designer Advocates For Sustainability Through Her Own Brand


The fashion industry is changing; a realm that was once full of glitz, glam, and excessive waste is now starting to come clean. Sustainable labels are everywhere, clean-up initiatives have begun, and consumers are being more mindful than ever. Finally, we're in the era where we're taking responsibility for what we're wearing.

And this is where Tela comes in the picture, a new homegrown fashion brand that named after the Filipino word for fabric. Designed by 19-year-old Alyssa Lagon, daughter of the founders of retail brand Bayo, Tela has brought together the concepts of style and sustainability to prove that the two can come together to reshape the retail industry as a whole. 

According to Alyssa, the idea of this brand came to her early this year. "This brand, Tela, is relatively a new brand. I realized that I wanted to be in the fashion industry because I grew up here, I saw myself continuing the family business Bayo." Currently studying in Ateneo De Manila University, Alyssa is moving to Paris as an exchange student in ESSCA to harness her fashion design skills. When it comes to her inspiration, Alyssa shares, "My parents inspired me because I see them working hard everyday, and I honestly want to become like them someday." 

In all honesty, being in this industry isn't actually the easiest thing especially if you're still young. "The hardest thing in being a fashion designer at this age is the expectations. Of course, I'm young and the people in this field are way older than me, so I have to in a way meet their expectations. It's also hard to balance it with school, so I have to really be keen with how I manage my time." 

Havin said that, there are also advantages when you start early. Alyssa shares, "Since I'm still young, I can still make mistakes and I can get guidance from my parents. And if ever, in the long run, I think that it's really not for me then at least I experienced on experimenting it first. When you start early, you get to see if it's really for you, unlike starting late. But it never actually crossed my mind that I'll leave this industry."

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But what we like most about Tela is how Alyssa showed how aware she is on the issue of sustainability. "The articles about it just came out of nowhere, bigla na lang dumami. But honestly, I just found out everything about it this year thanks to Adidas who released shoes that are made out of plastic. From there, I thought and asked myself what I can do about it in the fashion business. Since Adidas made something in the line of sports, what can I do with what I have in this industry?"

Due to her strong belief in maintaining ecological balance, every piece in her brand is biodegradable, recycled, or crafted out of upcycled fabrics from the Bayo factory, and then designed, cut, and stitched with integrity. "It's important for young people to advocate for sustainability because it's our future, it's our world that's going to be ruined. Our decisions daily affect us, it will affect tomorrow and the near future."

As a young blood, Alyssa want nothing more than to contribute to a more mindful and ecologically friendly industry in the future. "What I hope for the future of fashion is that people become more conscious with their buying decisions. They wouldn't just think of short-term [solutions,] but also what would happen in the long run. They won't just buy because of the why, but also because of how sustainable it is for every cut."

Having seen first-hand how much excess is left in the process of manufacturing clothing since she grew up spending summers in the family business, Alyssa became increasingly aware of the dangerous state of the environment. That's why she decided to take matters into her own hands at the age of 19. And for the young people who wants to create their own line someday, Alyssa encourages you to know your purpose and use it to motivate you. For her, her purpose is to make Tela known as the brand which is all set to transform local fashion––one thoughtfully produced piece at a time. 

From August 17 to September 16, Tela will be opening a pop-up store at the Retail section of Manila House, 8th Floor, Net Park Building, 5th Avenue BGC. Thereafter, Tela’s pieces will continue to be available on Instagram at @tela.mnl.

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