Patrick Salonga: ‘My creations as art’
Patrick Salonga: ‘My creations as art’
Pinoy Canadian youth among ‘best emerging’ fashion designers in Toronto
By Mila Astorga Garcia
The Philippine Reporter
PATRICK SALONGA is a young Filipino-Canadian fashion designer who has emerged to become a respected name in Toronto’s fashion scene.
Patrick Salonga is in fact the name of his own brand of clothing line that has been marketed in Toronto stores, foremost of which is the trendy U3 on Queen Street, which has carried his brand in the past three years.
Salonga was among the “best emerging” designers invited to showcase his capsule collection in the Fashion Arts Toronto 2021 Digital Fashion Week, a 15 day event that ran from June 2-16 in Toronto’s iconic landmarks. Other designers had to apply to get in but Salonga did not have to.
“The brand (Patrick Salonga) was hand selected to be part of a special presentation sponsored by Value Village featuring designers who worked deadstock/vintage clothing and remake them into innovative designs,” announced the official press release of the Fashion Arts Toronto event.
Patrick Salonga as a brand, is described by the same official release as having started as a men’s luxury streetwear, which has now evolved into a clothing line “that specializes in one of a kind upcycled pieces…(which) embodies an elevated take on upcycled clothing, shown through a mix of everyday vintage materials transformed into refined modern streetwear.”
With the transformation of the Patrick Salonga brand into what it is now, which allows for “flexibility and sustainability” in fashion wear, the designer was able to attract and establish a strong niche in the market – a specialized segment in Toronto’s highly competitive fashion market that appreciates and goes for his kind of designs.
In a recent interview with The Philippine Reporter, Salonga revealed that his customers “are very niched” in that they love his brand, as it represents clothes that are “handmade in Canada, one of a kind, designed to offer flexibility, caters to all genders, and meets the sustainability challenge.”
With more stores interested in carrying his brand, among them the trendy Nom Nom Nom on Parliament Street, Salonga wants his line to expand organically, or to thrive naturally as a desired product to acquire. He thus is not one for social media peddling, which runs counter to his philosophy and inclination as a fashion designer.
Salonga speaks more as a passionate artist who loves his work which he considers an art, rather than as a clothing brand owner who just wants to sell.
“You have to put your heart into your work, and you have to believe in your work, or you’ll find that you are just working to sell and not to create as an artist,” the former International Academy of Design (Toronto) student said.
“I tend to gravitate towards people who like my creations as art,” he says, and not just as a functional piece of garment.
Perhaps for this reason, Salonga’s “niche customers,” remain loyal and increasing, and more stores are approaching him for his unique creations.
Salonga migrated to Canada from the Philippines in 2008 with his parents and siblings as a fourth year university student, major in mass communications, ready to complete his studies in a Canadian university. Although his passion was in fashion design, he did not go for it in the Philippines for it was a very expensive course to study there, he said.
When he arrived Canada, he realized he had the chance to shift to the course he really wanted, but he encountered various barriers that usually befall most immigrant newcomers: not having his Philippine-acquired subjects recognized and credited; having to take English as a Second Language (ESL) even as he already had a very good command of written and oral English; having to get his Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) application approved on time and according to his actual needs.
However, Salonga was determined to complete his education in fashion design, the field he was passionate about, so he worked hard to get it with a firm resolve and strong work ethic, while he pursued his studies first in Seneca College then at the Academy.
“It was a difficult journey but with hard work, I blossomed in school, was a straight- A student, and excelled in my subjects,” he confided. Salonga participated in fashion design competitions through the school and he and his team won a number of times.
The rest is now history. Before the 2021 Fashion Arts Toronto event, Salonga was already a well-known fashion designer whose creations were presented in a number of prestigious fashion events, among them: Toronto Men’s (TOM’s) Fashion Week held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in August 2014; the A/W 2015 Collection at TOM; the challenging Stitched Competition streamed live via Slice Channel in 2018, and many others in between.