How Louis Claparols and Bobby Carlos Are Making The Filipiniana Wearable Everyday

How Louis Claparols and Bobby Carlos Are Making The Filipiniana Wearable Everyday


Take the local fashion route with designer Louis Claparols and makeup artist Bobby Carlos to find out what truly makes them proud as Filipino creatives

This is an excerpt from MEGA’s June 2024 Designer Profile

How did your creative journey start?

LC: My god it started a long time ago! I used to be a full-time designer back in the early 2000s, and he was the makeup artist. We usually work together most of the time. In 2014, I moved back and forth between Los Angeles and Bangkok. Then I moved back here because they were encouraging me to do ready-to-wear. So in 2018, I started this brand with their support.

BC: Back tracking, we’ve been doing this for a very long time. We’ve known each other for 30 years. The retail side of us, before being a makeup artist and a designer, started a long time ago. We even had a store in Rockwell. The store is Marnis Room. And then eventually we’ve become very busy with our own careers, me being a makeup artist and doing editorials and Louis being a designer doing made-to-measure clothes and fashion shows. That’s why I pretty much know all the “OGs” (originals) of the industry. When the pandemic hit, we went back to where we started—we’ve come full circle. Now, we just do pop-up stores. 

How did you two meet?

Both: Oh my gosh! (laughs) 

BC: We used to be together before! (laughs)

LC: Yes! (laughs) Actually, everyone knows!

BC: Yes, everyone in the industry knows about it. But it’s more of like—let’s not go in that direction. We’ve been together for a very long time. 14 years! We broke up around 2012, and then we became friends after a year and then ayun tuloy-tuloy na (it just happened). We’ve realized where we came from and we actually work well together synergistically. Like very good. Even when Louis was doing all his designs when he was a designer, I’m always there to give him criticism or feedback. Likewise, he does the same for me. Hindi masama na (It’s not bad that) we’re in business together. We feel we’re just playing and we’re back to what we love doing.

LC: We really work well together. We just look at each other, alam namin (we know). The eye signals! Alam na niya (He knows) what I want. There’s really a connection. When I started, I was alone. Then I decided I cannot do this anymore, handling everything. I needed another creative force behind me. 

How do you usually start your creative process together?

Both: Away! (A fight!) (laughs)

BC: We would fight! (laughs) Kapag nagaaway kami (When we fight), there’s always a good product. We don’t really follow any system. Maybe because we know each other very well. But with the collections, it’s always Louis who heads the collection and I just follow.

LC: I usually start with the direction and now we’re taking the Filipiniana route. We are more visible in Katutubo (pop-up market) and that’s what people want. We want to do Filipiniana pieces that are more fun. Not the usual ones you see—everything’s beige. Like jackets that you can wear as a blouse: Just wear the zipper at the back. We like mixing colors, fabrics, and textures to make it really more interesting and out of the box.

BC: It’s also really rolling it out to the younger generations because when you talk about Filipiniana, it’s always like you’re joining Linggo Ng Wika. I love the term that they’re using, “You should always wear your culture.” So at some point, we want to inject in the collection a little bit of Filipiniana. We have local weaves coming from Western Visayas. It’s also the brand’s way of helping local weavers because today you only see local fabrics in Duty Free. Parang pang pasalubong lang siya (It’s like they’re just souvenirs). But now, with Louis’ creative output and us making it a little bit modern, we are able to help the local weavers.

If you’re going to interview the families of these local weavers, a lot of them didn’t continue with the tradition anymore. If you ask the kids what they want to do in their life, gusto nilang mag call center (they want to work in a call center). You stop passing the tradition to your kids because nobody buys the product anymore. But since Louis is able to tap them, it gives them income to send their kids to school and put food on the table. In a way, we are supporting their families and promoting Philippine fashion. Hindi na siya baduy ngayon (They’re not tacky anymore). Surprisingly, you now see the younger generation wearing local fabrics like the balintawak so proudly in the mall or in weddings. 

LC: During the pandemic, I moved to Negros. I worked with a few communities there and in Iloilo to source fabrics. This is the collection we have for May. Our seasons with Katutubo are every pop-up month. 

BC: And you don’t see the same design anymore. What you see now, you’ll only see now.

LC: We try to come up with new designs every month so there’s a reason for you to come back (laughs). I noticed in some pop-up stores, it’s always the same pieces. We’ve been mixing a lot of patterns and paint, and now we’re trying to do bejeweled pieces. As you can see, they’re so glittery right now. 

Get to know more about the creative relationship between Louis Claparols and Bobby Carlos in MEGA’s June 2024 issue, now available on ReadlyMagzter, Press Reader and Zinio.

Photographed by GRANT BABIA. Creative Direction PATRICK TY. Art Direction JONES PALTENG. Styled by BITHIA REYES assisted by RICH FORTU and FEDERIC PANEN. Makeup BRYAN LIM. Hair CATS DEL ROSARIO. Models MISSY of LUMINARY and PHILIPPE MAGALONA. Sittings Editor MARIAN SAN PEDRO. Shot on location ANNEX HOUSE.

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