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Recent Grad Named a finalist for Emerging Menswear Designer Award at TOM*


Growing up in Manila in the Philippians, Patrick Salonga was know as the quiet kid with the quirky fashion sense.

His passion for fashion was evident even back when he was attending a catholic high school where his style sometimes landed him in hot water.

“I got in a lot of trouble for customizing my clothes,” Salonga said with a laugh. “Instead of wearing the necktie I had a bowtie with hundreds of safety pins in it so it was like this bi-jewel of safety pins.”

Now, with high school well behind him and a Diploma in Fashion Design in his hands, Salonga, 23, is set to stand in the national spotlight as one of Canada’s top emerging menswear designers at the inaugural Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*).

Salonga is one of five finalists in the running for the Emerging Menswear Designer Award (EMDA) and on Aug. 14 his menswear collection will be featured on the catwalk at TOM* alongside of four other finalists.

“I can’t believe I am in the top five and I am going to have a show that carries my name for Toronto Men’s Fashion Week,” Salonga said. “In the Philippines I was always the weird kid who dressed so weird. Everyone would dress so main-stream and I would be the crazy kid. Now I am here… it’s an amazing opportunity.”

Salonga, who now lives in Pickering Ontario, just east of Toronto, came to Canada from the Philippines five years ago.

“Half of my family was already here and we decided to come,” Salonga explained. “Its better living, awesome jobs so me and my family decided to migrate here.”

While in the Philippines, Salonga had begun to study photojournalism. He explained he saw it as an indirect route to someday become involved in the fashion industry. But after moving to Canada, with more options within his grasp, Salonga decided he would follow his passion. He looked at different fashion design schools and enrolled in the Fashion Design Diploma program, which is now offered at the Toronto Film School (formerly offered under the Academy of Design brand).

“It was more than I could have ever hoped for,” Salonga said.

He graduated with his Diploma in Fashion Design in January 2014. While still in school Salonga started an eight-month internship at renowned Canadian fashion brand Greta Constantine as a production assistant, an opportunity, which he said, was afforded to him through his instructors at the school, who are industry professionals.

“I was given the opportunity to work with the designers one-on-one, pattern draft with them and drape with them,” Salonga said. “When I was there we worked on a collection that was worn by top models like Coco Rocha and it was worn by Miley Cyrus for Fashion Magazine.”

The experience of interning was an incredible one, Salonga said, and one of Greta Constantine’s two designers, Kirk Pickersgill, has become a mentor of sorts. In fact it was Pickersgill who encouraged Salonga to enter the EMDA competition at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week.

“I was very hesitant to join because I didn’t have the money to buy fabric and I thought I didn’t have time,” Salonga explained.

But, Salonga said Pickersgill offered to help him by giving him old remnants of fabric from Greta Constine’s old collections and encouraged him to build his collection and assisted him along the way. Pickersgill suggested Salonga build his collection for the contest out of his Fashion Design Diploma graduation collection, which was t-shirt/ tunics dresses for men.

The encouragement and support made Salonga feel as though he had someone on his side that understands his aesthetic and it gave him the boost he needed to enter the contest.

The collection is titled Zeitgeist, which is German for time ghost, Salonga explained. It features 12 pieces which Salonga said were inspired by a fusion of roman, Greek and Egyptian times colliding with today’s fashions for men.

“It is t-shirts and tunics, a lot of jersey pieces and tunic dresses for guys,” he explained.

But, still Salonga said he suffered from some self-doubt about the collection he entered into the contest.

“I didn’t know what they expected,” he said. “It is menswear so they could be expecting suits and shirts and trousers and I was doing this weird tunic t-shirt collection that is basically dresses for guys.”

About three weeks after he submitted Salonga learned that his collection was chosen as one of the top five collections and that it would be shown at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week.

The Emerging Menswear Design Award, which is a part of the Designer Menswear Fund, is an initiative with the Toronto Fashion Incubator, to promote and nurture homegrown design talent, and to inspire young designers to specialize in menswear. The EMDA grand prizewinner will be selected from the group of five finalists by a panel of judges.

The winner of the EMDA will take home a cash prize of $10,000, a one-year membership at Toronto Fashion Incubator including mentoring from industry leaders and a spot-lighted show at next season’s TOM*

To see more about Salonga visit his website. If you are interested in learning more about the Fashion Design Diploma at Toronto Film School and how to become a fashion designer fill out this form and an adviser will contact you.


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