May, 2013 / Author:


Philippine fashion week is coming to Canada

Just when fashionistas everywhere thought it was safe to dust-bag their Louboutins, a new fashion week has everyone texting, and this time it’s a fashion week with a heartbeat. The premiere of Canada Philippine Fashion Week (CPFW) in Toronto this June will mark the first time Canadian and Filipino creatives have worked together on a project that will benefit children’s charities in both countries. This labour of love was envisioned by executive director and founder, Jeff Rustia, who took some time out of his extremely busy press tour in Manilla, Philippines to give us a look into the incredibly personal, inspirational project.

OutWords: When did you get the idea to take on CPFW? Do you need to be a Filipino-Canadian to attend, and what has the response to the project been?

Jeff Rustia: I was inspired last year when I visited the Philippines at how incredible and global the Philippines’ fashion scene was. It was during my sabbatical for my late son Kol’s passing that I was exposed to the artistry and creativity of the Filipinos. So when I came back to Toronto, I wrote four words down on a piece of napkin. Canada Philippine Fashion Week. My late father always taught me when you have a dream, write it down, and it will come true. WOW! The power of visualization and releasing your dreams into the universe. Within eight months, those four words on the napkin became a reality. 

And now, for the first time ever in Toronto, the whole world can experience the best and most iconic Filipino fashion designers from both the Philippines and in Canada! All in honour of my late son, 

Kol, whose legacy of love, charity and hope will continue on through this incredible monumental fashion charity event.

The response to this project has been phenomenal! Just the press conference here in Manila is pure indication of its buzz. From high-rated talk shows, to every mainstream newspaper, to the Philippine’s top fashion magazines, everyone is talking about CPFW. The event has truly captivated the imagination of everyone – largely because it is a fashion event with a heart, as all proceeds will go to my late son’s foundation… to help children with disabilities in the Philippines and Canada. 

And this event could have not come at a more opportune time in Canada, as Filipinos are now the third largest ethnic group in the country, with over 800,000 FilipinoCanadians. Canada census has estimated that in five years alone, there will be one million Filipinos in Canada. Wow!

OW: What is the biggest difference between CPFW and other international fashion weeks?

JR: Canada Philippine Fashion Week is definitely one of the first ethnically and culturally-driven fashion weeks ever produced. It is a dazzling week of Filipino fashion, culture, entertainment, philanthropy and 

100 per cent Filipino heart and pride! It is different from other fashion weeks in that it is also a non-profit organization, aimed solely at helping children. All our sponsorships and partnerships are not for commercial gain, but rather for fundraising, all to benefit the Kol Hope Foundation for Children, which is the only charity that helps kids with disabilities in both countries. 

Besides its philanthropic purpose, CPFW is aimed at opening up the trade and the fashion economy between the two countries. The Philippines is one of the world’s largest clothing manufacturers and a hub for pure talent and creativity and fashion design. It is also home to some of the most exotic, 

indigenous and beautiful fabrics, beadwork and textiles in the world. It’s time Canada and the rest of the world look to the Filipinos for fashion!

OW: In your experience, what is it about the Filipino culture that makes many of its people so creatively driven? How do you think the event will be received by the community both in the Philippines and here in Canada?

JR: By its history alone, the Philippines has been influenced by so many cultures, from the indigenous tribes, to 400 years of Spanish rule, to the Chinese, the Japanese and the Americans – it is not a surprise that Filipinos and their fashion sense are truly global! The Filipinos have always been known for their creativity and artistry and have proven to the world that its people and talents are quickly becoming its top resource! The event has already garnered so much attention. I am amazed at the daily queries we have for tickets. I am confident that Canadians will absolutely love CPFW.

OW: Would you like to see this continue as a yearly event?

JR: Yes, in fact it was created to become a yearly event. And CPFW is now officially a member of Festival and Events Ontario, and [it was] designed to become an annual Canadian festival, celebrating the beauty, fashion and culture of Filipino Canadians every year! From the Philippine side, I am happy to announce that CPFW is now an official Philippine Department of Tourism and Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs event in North America. 

OW: With many creative directors at the helm of major fashion houses around the world originating from Asian and Pan-Asian countries, do you hope to draw some mainstream, high-end designers to start to show at CPFW?

JR: In fact, we are happy to announce that among the many fashion luminaries coming from the Philippines, we are opening the show with top fashion designer John Ablaza with his incredible 45-piece Couture Philippine collection. We are also bringing to Toronto the iconic Francis Libiran and his “100” dress collection, comprised of 70 runway pieces, and 30 [retro] pieces on mannequins, the dresses worn by Tyra Banks and “America’s Next Top Model” [contestants].

OW: Finally, who and what will you be wearing to the main event?

JR: The Philippine’s top fashion designer Francis Libiran is making me a unique black barong with unusual skulls embroidery, as opposed to the usual flower pattern. Also on another night, I’ll be wearing his well-fitted blazer and suit pants made of Filipino fabrics. Needless to say, only the Philippines’ best styles for me, that week! 

Get ready for the Filipino fashion revolution in Canada! 

CPFW runs from June 10-15, 2013. Check out to learn more about the charity it’s sponsoring, Kol Hope Foundation for Children.

– Jefre Nicholls is the fashion editor for OutWords.

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