Sunday, September 19, 2021

Creating exemplary pieces while preserving culture


THE fashion industry has consistently been evolving over the years. Our local fashion designers have been innovating, in fact, to keep up with the stringent and changing taste of consumers.

Kathryn “Kay” Fanlo is among the designers who never stop reinventing their creations. She has been looking for ways on how to infuse a fresh take to the existing designs.

Kay got my attention when I saw her designs at the lobby of Waterfront Insular Hotel. From the earrings to the neck pieces, one could really see how each was intricately designed and crafted. Everything showcased an elegant fusion of the rich Mindanawon culture and modern contemporary design.

As someone who loves unique yet classy fashion accessories, I immediately fell in love with what I have just seen.

It was good that we have a lot of common friends especially that we both graduated from the same university. I finally had the chance to talk to Kay and got responses satisfying my curiosity about the designer behind the awesome pieces.

Kay, who grew in an environment where creativity is a daily norm, was not like the other kids her age. Instead of receiving a toy from her parents, her mom would direct her to play with the “retaso” and beads from their dress shop.

Thus, in college, she started making beaded butterfly, dragonfly and spider necklaces, which she sold at Eden Resort. Later on, she was able to sell earrings and necklaces at Bohol Bee Farm Resort as well.

In 2018, her friend asked her to join “Habi Kadayawan,” an annual fashion and design tilt. She only had three days to prepare until the submission of entries. Despite that, she still made it to the finals and was even adjudged as the grand prize for the hobbyist or artist category.

“I think, the contest was a door opener for me to pursue my passion in fashion and design again and be part of the industry professionally,” she shared.

Kay narrated that she draws the inspiration for her designs from the rich culture and natural beauty of Mindanao, including its tribes, which are evident in every piece she produces.

“I’d say that I am a versatile designer that fuses traditional Mindanao culture and contemporary design taken out from the urban lifestyle,” she said.

For Kay, the defining moment for a successful designer-entrepreneur is when “we uplift the lives of people who are in need through our livelihood program and the chance to showcase the rich culture of Mindanao in the international fashion accessory scene.”

Just like her designs, Kay is definitely an exemplary Dabawenya.


If you have special events and fashion tips to share, or just want to discuss about any fashion-related concerns with me, you are always free to reach me at


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