WHAT started out as a plain pastime of collecting cutouts from old newspapers and magazines when he was young helped Kenny Andrade Ladaga evolve into one of the respected local designers, carving his own name in the local and international fashion scene.
Ladaga, 32, shared with SunStar Davao that when he was a kid, his father, Delfin Ladaga, a police captain, was against him being gay. He had to hide whenever he plays toys intended for girls like Barbie dolls or playhouse as to not anger his father. This is when his creative side started to develop.
“I started drawing and making sketches since I was in grade school. I spent my weekends cutting out sketches from fashion magazine and newspapers. During that time, I already knew I wanted to pursue my passion and to be a fashion designer,” he said.
After graduating high school, he always wanted to take Fashion Design or Fine arts, but due to financial difficulties, he opted to enroll in Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management (BSHRM) at Surigao del Sur State University in Tandag. For him, at least, if he could not pursue his dream, he wanted to work in a hotel.
In a turn of events, his father told him during his college graduation that he will support his dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Sadly, a week before they went to Cebu where he decided to study, his father died.
Instead of feeling hopeless, he took a risk and went to Davao City to try his luck in the fashion industry. He applied in a big fashion house here where he started as an assistant. Part of his job was to clean the shop, serve coffee to clients, and fix the mess of the designers, among others. Instead of complaining, he used the experiences from his first job as a stepping stone to better his craft.
He recalled that his breakthrough in the fashion scene was when he joined Sagala Gown Competition 2012 in SM City Davao. It was in a competition for best Filipiniana gown where he emerged as the grand winner. After that, he then joined in Moda Mindanao 2012, an ethnic gown competition with Mindanao designers and was hailed as the winner.
Because of his achievements in the local fashion competition, work proposals started to come in until he decided to put up his own business: Kenny Ladaga Couture in Davao City.
“By loving your passion, doing good gowns, doon ako napansin internationally. Opportunity... like doing a fashion show abroad. Showcasing my creations,” Ladaga said.
Ladaga’s designs have been featured locally and internationally. He has showcased his designs in Paris and Canada, among others. His collections with striking elegance have gotten the interest of his clients to trust him to design their gowns during special occasions.
What stood out the most in his creations is the twist he did where he gives the local fabrics found in Mindanao a modern twist, honoring his Mindanaoan roots.
Ladaga could be seen in different fashion events in Davao City promoting the diversities and richness of Davao fabrics in different patterns, beadings, textile infusion, and weaving.