BEHIND every masterpiece is a master whose passion transcends in everything he does. In Davao, there’s someone who everyone knows as a master in the fashion industry, he goes by the name of Erwin Tan.
As a student, he recalled he was kicked out in universities. He said he lacked enthusiasm in studying and didn’t believe that education could be the key to success in his life.
“I’m not eager into earning a Bachelor’s Degree. Para sa akin, yayaman ako sa diskarte,” he said.
He was enrolled in Philippine School of Interior Design and transferred to UST with the same course after two years. In that journey, he then realized that he is not happy of what he is doing since he was only forced by his brother to take Interior Design.
So, he secretly shifted into Fashion Designing without the consent of his parents. He excelled in the course to the extent that teachers compliment him on his talent and intellect towards his aesthetics in fashion. He was always on top of the class and a lot of his classmates look up to him.
While he was keeping this status in class, his family discovered that he shifted to a different program. He revealed to them the rest and ended up having the support of his parents as he was sent to the United States to have an advanced learning of the world of fashion and soon after, he came back to the Philippines with a degree.
In the year 1983, he started his business named Kasuotan in Manila with no capital at all. He borrowed money from his mother and invested into creating and investing pieces of ready-to-wear collections and distributes them to Mix and Match Boutique, one of the oldest boutiques established in Manila and is still present up to these days.
Many people admire his new pieces every time he releases a new collection. There were times when clients were interested to meet and talk with him in person but he refused to face them. However, he was able to negotiate with them smoothly when one of the clients personally went to his house.
“Because of that desperate client who wanted to talk to me personally, my business started to boom,” he said.
That client wore one of his pieces to an event and many people asked him about the designer of the dress. Soon after, Erwin Tan’s name spread all over town and he began receiving a lot of inquiries from people who wanted him to create dresses for different events such as awarding ceremonies, debuts and weddings.
In six months, he was able to pay his debts to his mother and his staff increased in number; what was once two members became fifteen.
In the year 1990, he was invited to present his collection at the Philippine Fashion Week. He gave it a try and it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences he’s ever had. He was still invited after a year but at that time, he refused because he had a lot of transactions and plans to transfer his business in Davao.
In 2007, Kasuotan was finally transferred to Davao, specifically J.P Laural Avenue at Bajada. Sef, Erwin’s assistant, convinced him to join Philippine Fashion Week next year. After a few years, Joey Espino, the segment producer of Philippine Fashion Week, invited him to the elaborate event.
For the event, he picked the best yet minimal designs for his summer collection. Many people were shocked upon return because it has been 20 years since Erwin didn’t participate in the fashion showcase. His collection stood out among all the other collections during Philippine Fashion Week and he was dubbed as “Dubai Designer” for putting emphasis to couture details in his designs.
After the event, he was invited by Preview magazine to showcase his pieces for ABS-CBN Catalogue’s summer special by Kim Boop Yap. He became the talk of town when many celebrities have worn some of his pieces from his collection.
Some of these celebrities are Kim Chiu, Alex Gonzaga, Dina Bonnevie and Miss Universe- Philippines Maxine Medina, to name a few.
He also created and designed the long dress which Mariel Rodriguez and Bianca Gonzales when they hosted Pinoy Big Brother. Aside from that, he also became one of the official designers of LaniMisalucha for her concerts and live performances. (Dianne Lyr Curva, Hariette Lyle Digamon, Ramil Salon Jr., ADDU Interns/SunStar Davao)
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on July 18, 2017.
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