PMFF 2021: Renan Pacson Takes his Jab at Sustainable Fashion Further with Reimagined Post-Pandemic ‘First Ball’


As Filipino designers confront the fashion industry’s new reality, Renan Pacson is set on using this time to pause, recalibrate, and move towards purposeful and ethical fashion. At this year’s Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival, he shows the fruit of his labor with forward-looking collection, ‘First Ball’.

The movement promoting ethical and sustainable consumption and production has been growing louder and louder across the world throughout the years, and rightly so. We are constantly reminded of just how destructive mass production is to our already-devastated environment, and the fast fashion industry has been an undeniable contributor to this practice for decades. Acknowledging this, Filipino fashion designer Renan Pacson commits to moving away from this culture of waste and clutter with a collection that’s entirely made up of old scraps of fabric.

The recent 2021 Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival (PMFF) brought to light local talents under the theme of “Fashion Reboot” in a virtual run this year. While the general concept celebrates the fashion industry coming back to life after over a year of pandemic-brought challenges, Pacson took it one step further by reshaping his brand and process to be more thoughtful of waste, materials, and how they all impact the environment.

Image courtesy of Renan Pacson

Entitled “First Ball”, this capsule collection is produced with nothing but recycled materials, a vision Pacson wanted to bring to life with everything happening around the world. He shared with Rank Magazine that it all started with his goal to produce an entire collection without purchasing any new materials. “I wanted everything re-purposed, up-cycled, re-engineered, or made from scraps available in the workshop,” he explained.

Looking at all the pieces in the collection, there’s a distinct picture it creates with a little bit of the styled materials we’re used to*,* mixed in with some kind of otherworldly cuts and pairings. These seemingly contrasting styles are tied in together through contemporary silhouettes pushed further than anything we’ve seen before.

The renowned designer, truly known for his bold cuts and unconventional pieces, shared that he envisioned this particular collection for a very specific scenario. It’s the year 2835, and people are having their very first party or music festival after being in a lockdown for decades [and centuries]. “Hence, the First Ball,” he mused.

Runway Images courtesy of Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival.

Of course, the scene is solely a make-believe inspiration, but it does the trick quite well. Each garment created and outfit put together looks like something straight out of a futuristic celebration, with the materials and foundations we’re familiar with, turned into something else entirely. It’s exactly how you’d imagine a world locked up in isolation for decades would turn up in the first party of the century.

Working with limited materials from mounds of scrap and excess fabric lying around allowed Pacson to challenge himself into creating wholly new things. He shared that the pandemic truly pushed him to streamline his process, and focus solely on the essence of his designs, resulting to a collection that’s straightforward and raw, but still radically creative and stylish.

Images courtesy of Renan Pacson

As a designer amidst the pandemic, he revealed, “As a designer, I have become more conscious and thoughtful of my process. I edit out what’s unnecessary and leave only the essentials. I have also become more playful with my approach, I want to have fun in everything that I do and everything that I do should bring me joy or I am not doing it at all.”

On top of learning how to “strip it down”, per se, with his designs, definitely a big change that Pacson and every designer out there is currently facing is the “new normal” presentation of fashion. At this year’s PMFF where the physical runway and audience are migrated to the virtual space, designers had to make sure their creations and messages were conveyed successfully, even through the screen.

Image courtesy of Renan Pacson

“It felt totally different presenting a collection without a live audience, It felt very quiet and strange. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed the more laid-back and chill pace of the whole production. But I’m definitely missing the adrenaline rush and the chaos of a very crowded backstage,” Pacson furthered.

It’s definitely not easy to navigate the world of visual arts right now, especially for wearable art like fashion, as it often requires a different level of experience and touch to establish a strong connection. But, for this veteran designer and creative, every day is a chance to pick up a new lesson in the new normal. Something his team has embodied in building an e-commerce platform for his brand, and, as he put it, “shifting towards a more accessible approach [to fashion] digitally.”

He’s also grown to be very optimistic and enthusiastic about the industry’s shift to online-based consumption and presentation. He shared that, through this transformation, he and his team are able to discover more talents from places they haven’t had the chance to look through before. This brings on an entirely new realm of collaborations, inspiration, and a new era of fashion design.

Images courtesy of Renan Pacson

Renan Pacson looks to the future of Philippine fashion with utmost excitement, especially with the movement towards sustainability and slow fashion. He recognizes that more and more consumers are thoughtfully choosing which clothing brands to support in light of the environment, and, in turn, more designers are making the shift.

“The appetite of the consumers and viewers are shifting towards conscious, ethical, and slow fashion. We want more meaning in the things we consume,” he noted. Keeping this in mind, he’s committed to pursue more sustainable practices in fashion design moving forward.

With the “First Ball” collection marking this new era, Pacson sets out to push the limits of streetwear even further with purposeful designs and environmentally-conscious productions, and we’re all here for it.

To see more of Renan Pacson’s designs, check him out on Instagram: