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From PUP Icon to Rising Icon of Sustainable Fashion

A Sustainable Fashion Designer Story

By Lorie Jean ToPublished about a month ago 4 min read
From PUP Icon to Rising Icon of Sustainable Fashion
Photo by Artificial Photography on Unsplash

By: Lorie Jean To and Betchie Villar

Fashion and sustainable fashion are inextricably linked components of the style world. Conventional fashion is defined by trends and quick manufacturing, whereas sustainable fashion tackles environmental and ethical problems. It promotes ecologically friendly materials, ethical manufacturing practices, and reducing the total environmental effect of clothes. Sustainable fashion seeks to reshape the fashion narrative by promoting responsible consumerism, durability, and a holistic approach that takes into account aesthetics as well as the social and environmental effect of the whole fashion supply chain.

In this age, while conventional fashion brands remain a prominent topic of discussion, there are still noteworthy emergence of sustainable fashion brands boldly undertaking the task of reshaping the dynamics of the style industry. These brands are dedicated to producing clothing and accessories that are environmentally friendly without compromising on aesthetic appeal. Notable examples include Wholesome Culture, which employs materials such as organic cotton, recycled plastic bottles, and bamboo; Veja, recognized as the first sneaker brand to utilize recycled plastic bottles in crafting lightweight, breathable, and waterproof sneakers; and Outerknown, which prioritizes the use of recycled or reusable fibers as the primary materials for their apparel. These influential brands are pioneering the creation of exceptional clothing through the incorporation of unconventional yet eco-friendly materials in the fashion world.

In the Philippines, there is a notable embrace of sustainability in the fashion industry. Much like their global counterparts, local sustainable fashion brands in the country often employ practices such as utilizing pre-owned garments, incorporating authentic weaves crafted by indigenous communities, and favoring sustainable fabrics.

In our cherished school, a rising designer is making significant strides in the realm of sustainable fashion. Not only has he garnered local recognition for his outstanding creations, but he has also been featured in international magazines, solidifying his status as an icon of sustainable fashion. Meet John Jade Montecalvo, who is leaving an indelible mark on the fashion world with his commitment to sustainability and innovative designs.

Little did he know that a simple idea could have a profound impact not only on his career but also on the environment. John Jade Montecalvo's journey began as an in-house designer for the campus organization PUP Icons. Hailing from a family involved in rag making, he drew inspiration from fabric scraps to create beautiful apparel. Initially, he was gratified by the appreciation and love from his orgmates, but the unexpected happened – his creations transcended the confines of the school and even reached international recognition.

His sustainable fashion pieces have graced influential personalities like Sarah Geronimo, Sassa Girl, Junjun Salarzon, and Ychan, amplifying his message about environmental awareness. Montecalvo sees these collaborations as pivotal, as these figures have the power to influence a significant audience. Looking ahead, he expresses excitement about the prospect of working with fashion icon Nadine Lustre, who, with her aesthetically pleasing styles, aligns with Montecalvo's vision for the future of sustainable fashion.

While waiting for his dream's fulfillment, his works are gaining more recognition from established local media such as INQUIRER, CNN, People’s Television Network (PTV) and News 5. This milestone did not end in multimedia as it evolved into a three-dimensional opportunity where his designs were showcased in Rampa Manila 2023 along with other aspiring designers. Candidates of Miss Manila 2023 transformed his pieces into life as they wore and exhibited them for the pageant.

The uniqueness of John Jade’s workmanship captured even international magazines, particularly Victor Magazine of Dubai. On their August 2023 issue, his elegant brown and black fringe dress was featured and worn by a model from Women MGT.

His works Habi at Tirintas were recently showcased in Filipino Fashion Runway 2024. It promotes sustainability and modernity through styled Filipino formal wear using fabric scraps. With John Jade’s skillful hands, he also incorporated weaving techniques and braids that highlighted the intricate aesthetic of garments.

For the rising young fashion designer, resourcefulness is a must especially for his stand and brand.

“It is a characteristic that enables you to turn things we see as trash into new things we can use again. This is what I always practice. I don’t want to just throw things,” John Jade shares saying it is hard for him to let go of things.

This designer’s humble attitude developed into an advocate promoting sustainable fashion helping not only the environment but also the livelihood in their community. With gifted hands and a golden heart, John Jade represents the mothers in need living in Payatas. His goal includes being of help in the community where he grew up.

“Hopefully, in the future, when my brand’s impact escalates... I’d be able to provide livelihood,” he optimistically said.

However, the talented designer’s current journey is not without humps.

Despite the advocacy and good will of sustainable fashion, the real challenge lies in making it marketable to the masses. John Jade is no stranger to this challenge. He himself is aware how this brand has a different market. Therefore, he squeezes the best of his creativity in trying to make his designs mass-friendly and more wearable. Seeing more people be able to consume his works is what he desires.

Another obstacle he has been trying to overcome is the inevitable comparison. Some people prefer traditional garments that are easy to make and easy to wear. He understands it, knowing they are not his target market.

Nevertheless, for someone who possesses creativity and persistence, all those humps are nothing but a stepping stone for growth. John Jade faced these challenges by elevating his aesthetic and continuously trying to make his designs more suitable for the preference of the masses. It is evident with his designs such as Terno Para Un Dia Ordinario and Habi at Tirintas that promotes contemporary takes on Filipino styles.

As a rising fashion designer, it is always his dream to experience more and more Filipinos patronizing this brand and style. But as a sustainable fashion designer, his dream is to lessen the pollution made by fabrics and the fast fashion industry, hoping to help the environment even with this small act.


About the Creator

Lorie Jean To

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