Meet the Filipino Designers Taking Over New York Through FILIPINXT

Meet the Filipino Designers Taking Over New York Through FILIPINXT


In New York City, Bessie Besana, Veejay Floresca, Wilson Limon, and Michael Leyva pave the way to bring Filipino fashion to the global forefront of art and design

Tomorrow is never promised. With a needle, thread, and a sewing machine, it can be sewed—not into oblivion, but into an oracle. By taking proactive steps and making deliberate choices, we can influence and shape the future, rather than letting it pass by unnoticed or forgotten. Thus, we enter FILIPINXT, the platform designed for Filipino creatives to showcase their talents in the fashion capital of New York. Led by New York-based fashion designer Bessie Besana and restaurateur Rob Mallari-D’Auria, four Filipino designers—Besana himself, MEGA Young Designer Competition alum Veejay Floresca, Wilson Limon of Nino Franco, and Michael Leyva—will highlight what they can do for the international scene, influencing tomorrow’s Filipino art and design.

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FILIPINXT aims to help Filipino creatives showcase their talents in the fashion capital of New York

The four designers present a sneak peek of their collections, making up for two looks each. “We need Filipino talent of our generation that will penetrate the space,” says Besana. Asian designers like Peter Do, Alexander Wang, and Prabal Gurung, have entered the New York scene in their ways, each distinct and different from the other. Filipino talent, often overshadowed yet rich in its cultural influences, aims to break new ground on the global stage. With FILIPNXT, a play on “Filipinx” denoting inclusivity and “next” signifying progression, these designers pave the way for the next generation of Filipino creativity to shine brightly in the diverse landscape of design and innovation.

Bessie Besana

FILIPINXT founder and designer Bessie Besana with his collection “Whispers of Cosmos”

“Whispers of the Cosmos” is the title of Besana’s collection, inspired by his contemplation of life in space. He envisions a future where fashion intersects with interstellar living, reflecting this ambition through hints of fringe and space-age glam in his creations. Predominantly featuring muted tones of black, white, and grays—signature hues in Besana’s repertoire—the collection is punctuated by splashes of sparkles, fittingly reminiscent of stars, and flurries of fringes, a reflection of fluidity. Comprising fifteen looks, Besana’s cosmic collection offers a glimpse into fashion’s potential evolution beyond Earth.

Geometrical patterns take place in Besana’s collection
Fringe accents is featured in the collection

Among the two looks showcased in this preview, the first boasts a bib top with asymmetrical and geometrical patterns—a design symbolic of Besana’s personal evolution and growth. He explains, “I’m pushing myself to the next level,” reveling in mastering pattern-making since relocating to New York. Thus, the second look is devoid of darts, allowing only fabric through form. Fascinated by the intricacies of garment construction, he seeks to craft silhouettes that mystify, ultimately shaping the contours of a woman’s body in ways that defy conventional understanding.

Host and influencer Janeena Chan wears one of Besana’s creations

Veejay Floresca

Veejay Floresca’s collection draws from upcycling

Veejay Floresca, a Manila native now making waves in Los Angeles, has carved a niche for herself with her sleek and modern designs. Since making her mark at the MEGA Young Designers Competition, she has crafted a series of collections that have propelled her brand internationally.

Through classic menswear tailoring, the designer repurposed former blazers
The MEGA Young Designers alum’s ideas stand in the platform of sustainability

In her atelier, time is not merely measured by the ticking of a clock, but felt in the fabric of forgotten treasures. She breathes new life into weary blazers, coaxing threads to hum in harmony once more. Floresca says, “My collection draws inspiration from classic menswear tailoring, reimagining it through the lens of sustainability and upcycling.” The air is thick with the scent of possibility, mingling with the musty aroma of vintage cloth. Old becomes new under her skilled hands, as buttons once rusted find renewed purpose, and hems frayed with age are trimmed to reveal fresh edges.

Niño Franco

Wilson Limon’s collection pays homage to the indigenous T’boli community

“My collection is inspired by the artisanal craftsmanship and the agricultural scene in Lake Sebu in South Cotabato,” designer Wilson Limon shares the purpose of his collection, one doused in the story-telling of Mindanao’s heritage. Immersed in the cultural mosaic of Mindanao, Limon’s designs pay homage to the indigenous T’boli community, whose livelihood is deeply rooted in agriculture and fishing. From its humble beginnings as a thesis project in 2014, Limon’s brand, Niño Franco, has grown into a symbol of cultural dignity. “Coming from Mindanao, we have beautiful stories to tell where culture is our identity, so I’m really excited to showcase what our ethnolinguistic groups can offer,” he shares.

Limon’s designs showcase themes of Mindanao’s culture and its agriculture
Motifs of crops with hand embroidery and beadwork is predominant in the collection

Limon moves through ikat fabric, combining traditional weaving with a contemporary touch. His designs portray themes from Mindanao’s rural life, with motifs of crops and fish embellished with modern accents such as hand embroidery and beadwork. The first ensemble, a sharp denim creation, captures the robust charisma of the region, while the subsequent look, a chic bib paired with meticulously embroidered khaki pants, radiates the enduring grace of age-old artistry.

Michael Leyva

Michael Leyva’s “Heaven of Angels” is a nod to his own guardian angel, his late brother

“I’m doing an all-white collection,” Michael Leyva reveals, introducing his latest work titled “Heaven of Angels.” With a heartfelt nod to his late brother, his guiding angel, the designer seeks to evoke an embrace of remembrance. Through this holy homage, he endeavors to present a collection imbued with purity and grace, touched with the serenity and splendor of heaven itself.

The modern Filipiniana takes on pearls and fringe

“FILIPINX is a platform to showcase Filipino culture,” he notes. For the womenswear look, he utilizes fringe Filipiniana with pearls cascading like blissful waterfalls or falling like joyful angel tears. Meanwhile, in menswear, Leyva drapes an oversized white coat and delicate lace shirt to add a hint of sweetness and softness. From these two opposing views arrives a vision: a sight of paradise’s gates, brilliant in its beauty and as nourishing as a baby’s first milk. With a soothing touch that connects tender care, Leyva’s creations rise to otherwise celestial heights, encapsulating the spirit of ethereal beauty and national pride.

Leyva constructs a large white coat with a lace shirt to add femininity

FILIPINXT stitches the future with intention and purpose, altering it from a mystery to be feared into a path to be navigated with foresight and insight. Bessie Besana, Veejay Floresca, Wilson Limon, and Michael Leyva shape this path. In a composition of local innovation, purposeful craftsmanship, cultural heritage, and heavenly beauty, we catch a glimpse of a new era that urges us to embrace progress with intentionality and treasure the depth of our collective history. The future is uncertain—but you’re going to love tomorrow.

Photography KIERAN PUNAY

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