By Meena Shayna Sarsaba
Cyberspace — A storage, a lens, portal, rendezvous. A mind’s eye. Imagination. Canvas. Temporary. Permanence. Deterioration. Advancement. A vast and open tabula rasa slate. Reality. Language. Nature.
Morpheus says, “You take the blue pill, the story ends — you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.“
In a catalogue of preferences, summer or monsoon, mountains or beach, urban buildings or open skies, libraries or discotheques, reality or the dreamscape. There’s a part of us that doesn’t answer this survey for ourselves, the next thing you know you’re introspecting whether a stranger will draw a circle on this or crush one of the options out or pick both or none. One of the landmarks of distinct sonder is the nuances present in the way people dress — up or down. There’s no ultimatum.
I’m probably like you. Not all fashion is about framing our personality. We get intoxicated off playing someone new other than thy self. Not necessarily an alter-ego or an emulation of an idol but somebody you assembled, created or gave birth to that could be you when you don’t feel like being you right now or for your future reference, at least that is what dressing up is like for me sometimes. An army of me.
Do you have a love for styling and dressing up but haven’t found the gateway into untapping that yet? Maybe joining Filipino Fashion Talk would be the best thing you ever did. Let’s say you already have the elements and gears, FFT is the gym to workout your fashion muscle.
It is an ode to uniqueness, belongingness, similarities, experimentation and technology. You will first be thrown into a cybernetic treasure-trove of images and the arresting allure of everybody’s ensembles, language and haikus translated into corporeal and then gently harnessed by the friendliness and frivolity of the FFT Discord members. At first you’ll ask what it is, What’s FFT but with a single glance, you can say that there’s no explanation required. It simply is an invitation to express how you exist and live in the present and behind the scenes.
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.
What is FFT? Well, it’s in the Details. Groove it and strike a pose.
More than a virtual community, FFT is a universal entity stretching far and wide to Filipinos springing from all corners of the earth. Think of it as the cul de sac for the Swagapinos. For people based in Antartica, dm the mods with proof of residency. It covers a lot of ground and is a very active social network. I’ve seen discussions on designers, personal style, purchases, accessories, personal critiques, product reviews and advice given from one Swagapino to another. There’s also a pool for fashion-related memes. Style enthusiasts are invited to upload photos of their outfits for others to vote on and comment on. No rules, just vibes at its finest.
The first thing you’ll likely notice is the ubiquity of streetwear, something like the energy of Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Christian Dior (in fact they have a Christian Dior bot that greets you at the FFT lobby) and the late Virgil Abloh whose untimely departure is such a loss to the world of the arts — rest in power to a pioneer and the blueprint for fashion. But the more you traverse into the cul de sac, you’ll realize that FFT is made of alleys too, that welcome all sorts of spectrums of style. Vintage, maximalist, androgynous wear, Goth, Kitsch, Decora, Bohemian, Cosplay, Gorpcore, Lolita, Sleazecore, y2k and anything you want to add to the list.
That’s because, FFT is waiting for you! If you’re not there, it’s most likely you’re not missing out, but we’re missing out on you and your panache.
Congrats on year one, Zild. So many collaborations, and recently you had a Halloween event and a mini cyber music festival, that was just so mesmerizing. And all these people from all walks of life getting along and showing support for each other through your platform, FFT. How do you absorb all of this? How are you feeling as well?
And yeah about the Halloween event, was surprised din with the turn out of the event and many people attended the music festival. It was my first time trying to do a live event for Discord and Twitch so I was a little bit nervous but everything turned out great I think! And I think that I’m happy to see na people from different backgrounds are meeting in FFT. That was the goal from the start. The rules and stuff na na we have from the start was made para inclusive to many yung community and it’s great to see honestly na ganon yung lumalabas ngayon. You just see different styles, different interests, new to fashion and fashion nerds all in one community.
Have you always been a bit of a fashion enthusiast when you were younger? Or is this something you had fun with recently?
I’ve been interested in fashion for quite a few years na, Around 2015. I started to get into it because I lost weight and the reason why I tried to lose weight before was self-improvement and I wanted to look better because of bad comments about my looks and when I look back it’s kinda sad I think if that makes sense? The next thing I focused on was clothes. Got into thrifting by that time but for a few years I think I really didn’t know my style, just exploring pa lang back then and maybe mga around late 2018 to early 2019 is when I can truly say na I’ve found the style I like and from there doon na develop yung mga favorite brands and interests ko today.
How were you inspired to go beyond your imaginations with your daily errands and goings-on through fashion styling?
I want to be real lang na I don’t necessarily go beyond my imagination for styling, I just research a lot and go to the rabbit hole ng pinterest, search the brands na nasa pins ko then do a deep dive sa mga communities ng aesthetic/brands na yon and save pictures. I just look at the pics I have saved and see what I have in my closet and think “What items do I have already na I can use to imitate this outfit that I like” and by repeating that feel ko eventually nagkaroon na ng sariling twist or flavor ko yung mga fits na I have.
Zild also offers a curation and proxy service that provides alternative clothing options for expensive designer clothing. “I realized that since we are in a third world country, our purchasing power isn’t as strong as other places. I’ve noticed that a lot of people can be interested in a certain aesthetic or brand but those brands can be unattainable or expensive. Which is why I’ve decided to open SSTYLEX. I’ll be focusing on styles or aesthetics which aren’t that readily available here in Philippines or hard to find in thrift stores.”
Do you have a styling ritual that you consider and how does it go? Do you plan your outfits ahead? And do you consider the errand to affect your fashion styling for the day, do you arrange your outfits according to your errand or destinations or is it more like vice versa, e.g. you have put together an outfit and go “Ahhhh, eto parang this should be my museum date or visit to the zoo look,” or “Eto parang this is my grocery shopping look” something like that.
Before pandemic, I just kinda go with the flow and throw a fit on the spot and see how it goes na lang. Pero since nagsimula pandemic you only have a few chances to go out so, yeah, I kinda plan my fits ahead like a night before. I usually only go out lang to visit my girlfriend. What happens is I try on clothes the night before and papakita ko sa kanya. We do this because first thing we do is take pictures pagkakita namin. Yun ang bonding namin. And also honestly I only consider yung destination and activity but wala akong set fits na “this is for a date” and “this is for another event” I just wear what I like mapa overdressed or underdressed and it’s fine with me. The reason why I care about destination and activity is so I can avoid wearing some of my stuff na dumihin. Some of my favorite stuff are white, gray etc. and very easy to get stained so if for example ang activity is kakain, I just plan ahead and avoid wearing those fave stuff of mine but besides that, anything goes.
It’s nice to see when yung colors ng outfits of someone reflect their personality or work and it’s also a good surprise to see someone na total opposite and I think being able to experience or observe others do both is a nice thing to have in this world.
I just remembered this comparison between Junji Ito and Hayao Miyazaki’s personal aesthetic in clothes and how their artworks are almost contrary to that, like Miyazaki’s style is more on dressing casual corporate and neutrals but his art is rather colourful, his personality is stoic, stern and grim and his art, technicolor. Or is it because we have been accustomed to associating dark colours and neutrals to gloom? And should that be changed? You have worn a lot of outfits that blend in neutral, muted and dark colours, together, what do these colours mean to you?
Personally I feel na it shouldn’t really be changed, it is what it is, I think. Now that maybe a boring answer pero I like the way it is. Sometimes it’s nice to see when you can see yung colors ng outfits of someone reflect their personality or work and it’s also a good surprise to see someone na total opposite and I think being able to experience or observe others do both is a nice thing to have in this world. As for me, it is true na most of my outfits are neutral, muted and dark colours but I’m actually working my way to have a more colorful wardrobe which I’m slowly having some colorful pieces na so maybe in 2022, my feed will be more colorful but yeah, for me the colors don’t have any meaning, to be honest.
Self invention and presenting alternative forms of beauty is prevalent in the FFT community as we get to experience their different style evolutions week to week and it’s amazing how it has liberated a lot of people, be one another’s muse and rise up in modernity. Even if you’re no runway follower, you won’t feel alienated. You’ll start to get an understanding of what it is that you are doing and you are already equally doing great like them.
Filipinos are no doubt avid enthusiasts of fashion. We have come along way and survived whirlpools of changes in time, gained and as well as lost a lot that made our fashion sense before. So choosing over Bagay or Baduy: having only those two as options to critique an outfit is quite totally overrated. Not only is it a lazy compliment or criticism, it’s a jab to human character, character development and oddities that we all are born with and developed.
Street fashion photography can be very, very tough, I used to experience with friends while taking pics of our outfits posing against graffitis and getting taunted/catcalled/mocked considering we’re not being a public distraction and like come on, we’re just having fun. Have you ever had these scenarios/have you been put in a situation like that? And how did you/do you deal with that?
I think male privilege is a part why I have never experienced getting catcalled or taunted but I’m pretty used to the looks I get whenever I come out with something weird. I just think of it as these people just pass by and maybe they’ll find the fit funny then after a few seconds they’ll do their own thing na because most of the people have their own stuff to do naman. But then it might be a different experience for women lalo na if the fit shows skin so I get na others especially women find it tough to take photos in public. The closest thing to this experience siguro is when I wear a skirt in public and I get some looks pero I just view it as “if people give you the looks, then you’re doing something right.”
How do you deal with anti-fashion people be it from strangers or even people you know personally?
Kapag friends naman, I usually don’t mind if they think my outfits are weird. Some people are not just invested in fashion as deep as we do and that’s fine. People have different hobbies and interests so it is what it is. I feel na there’s no need to do anything or say anything to friends na di masyado into fashion because some of my friends have their hobbies too na I don’t really get or I’m not that interested in pero it’s all good and wala namang masyadong conflict about it.
What do you think should be seen more in fashion and what do you think should not even have a place in it?
What should be seen more: More guys being open to womenswear. Not only talking about skirts and stuff, clothing has no gender anyway. Example: sa Uniqlo women’s section, there are lots of pieces na tagged as women’s but look like a unisex piece anyway. Don’t be turned off by the tag na women’s, just go ahead and wear it if it fits.
More Filipino Local brands doing more garment types aside sa t-shirts. I’m not against streetwear t-shirt brands, that’s all good, more power to those guys. I just want to see more Filipino brands doing fun stuff with pants, jackets etc.
No place in fashion: Graphic tees with sexist, racist prints etc. And election t-shirts hahaha.
What should be seen more: More guys being open to womenswear.
Zild is passionate about men’s style and desires to teach and learn from others about the fundamentals of style. He approaches the borders with fierceness and a strong belief for himself and everyone. No wonder he has lured in more than 4,000 members on Discord and more than 3,000 members on the FFT Instagram page to connect and get along. His responsiveness, openness to discuss is his charm.
It’s about time FFT should be everywhere, right? They also run a Filipino Fashion Talk – Instagram page too but Discord is the main avenue for the “talks.” That way, conversations and behaviors can be more intimate and moderated and sanction or bust out unfavourable behavior and le trolls. Please behave well or else you’ll get your free sinigang cards revoked and perhaps even your Swagapino license. Tsk, tsk.
It’s not a community to create a Swagapino out of you, it’s a page created and empowered by Swagapinos.
There are tried and tested style basics that you can study and incorporate into your own wardrobe and fuel you into new heights of self-confidence and self-expression. At least, FFT will help you get there. And do you have a local brand, or are thinking about building your own label? This could also be your place to expand your engagement and give ideas what people look for. I’ve already seen such exquisite brands hand-made or repurposed by Filipino creatives there. It’s not a community to create a Swagapino out of you, it’s a page created and empowered by Swagapinos.
Apart from their weekly roster of Top Fits, you will see the talk in motion via the FFT Youtube Channel. As a thrift-bean, my favourite episode from them was their Filipino Fashion Talk – 1500 Peso Outfit Challenge Episode where Zild and his friends, Anne, Carrel and Miguel were on a mission to create fire fits on a budget. I had so much fun, I’m thinking of watching it again.
How did you use to see FFT as when it first started and has that perspective/vision changed since your platform progressed? Has one year of being a community helped it meet one of FFT’s visions and goals?
At the beginning of FFT, I really didn’t have big goals for it, I just started it because I was bored and wanted a platform where people can talk about clothes and also a Filipino Space in the internet where women, LGBTQ+ community can post outfits without the thirsty comments, homophobia/transphobia/harassment, and a space for men to experiment with fashion and parang yun lang yung initial goals but as the community grew, goals changed and more ideas popped up. I think na after a year I can say na our team hasn’t reached our goals yet but we have laid the foundation para sa future ng FFT community and I’m confident na we can reach out to more people this coming 2022.
My favorite part about the FFT community ay yung mga memes and the fact na it brings together people of different backgrounds
And what is/are your favourite part/s about FFT, being the mastermind behind it and what do you enjoy most about it, what are some things you find very challenging?
Things I find challenging? The enablers sa gastos because people be like “looks good you should buy.” Also, managing other people’s behaviors: there are some issues in the past where it’s kinda hard to deal with discussions sometimes especially about clothes, minsan if someone doesn’t like a certain style other people get hurt, but I think FFT as a community have gotten better compared to its early days regarding that issue.
And my favorite part about the FFT community ay yung mga memes inside the community. So much stuff happening inside the Discord server and it’s fun to be part of it. I also love the outfits of many people. I also really like the fact na it brings together people of different backgrounds.
FFT walks the talk and ends your tedious search for the best of “I’m not a Filipino, I’m Swagapino” compilations.
Say it with me: You’re not a Filipino, you’re Swagapino. (⌐■◡■)
So, if you’re new here, I guess it’s alright to be overwhelmed at first. You can be a spectator until you’re feeling yourself in the outfit you just built or put on today. It’s not natural selection or an award show. Your life is the grand occasion itself. This is what FFT is for, it’s an open forum with its own moderations and safety protocols, where your fashion curiosities and ideas can be playfully or casually welcomed. They don’t bite. Remember that these folks are also like you, exploring their identity, styles, taste with their own means and as they progress, they express it. Fashion traces its etymological roots to “make” “shape” or “do,” there is no law, and it exists because of the variety of our human creativity. Fashion does not equal “uniform.” You are fashion.
But like, if the sun should explode and reincarnation into another universe would come after and we’d be ghosts of the what’s left of the scorched earth, do I really just want to be roaming in something that isn’t my best for this phantom eternity? Am I getting this right, FFT Mods. FFT Mindset.
Buy less, choose well, make it last. Fashion is not only about being well-dressed but how well-loved your favourite clothes are enough to keep wearing them. Aligned with mood, or personality, creativity, even people admit that they just want to flaunt too and that’s okay. It can also stand for comfort. Just wear whatever fits your spirit, not like it will cause a virus or a plague. Seeing you daring to be yourself is the cure and we can’t wait to experience you @ Filipino Fashion Talk – Discord and together, colour cyberspace.
*゜✭・ . ✧ ゜・． ・✫・ ゜．
Meena Shayna Sarsaba graduated from the University of San Carlos and is now spending most of her days as an opalescent pink poisonous soft coral scape klepto dreaming inside an umbilical cord (yes, you read that right) and being an advocate for kindness since day one. She is officially Team Love Club’s fairy.