Art/Style/Travel DiariesStyle

Joseph Bagasao: Fashion is gateway to happier times

‘It is a narrative of my response to what we have been living with for the past 12 months’

Joseph Bagasao's design of strongly defined construction with minute detailing

Daydreaming and escapism in a time of restricted travel define the central mood for BAGASÁO’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection called Oasis. It is inspired by the markets of Marrakech, pristine seascapes, and dreamy country homes.

BAGASÁO creative director Joseph Bagasao, 35, designed a 25-look collection which was presented in Tokyo last July consisting of flowy silk tunic dresses, airy white shirts billowing over ecru pencil skirts and lightly cinched with a soft corset tucked under boxy bermuda shorts. Accessories include heavy hoops of gold-plated brass and a frayed cowboy straw hat. His aesthetic is minimal, with clean lines and great attention to detail.

Billowy shirt an escape to sunnier landscape

“This collection is a narrative of my response to what we have been living with for the past 12 months,” says Bagasao in a written interview with “I have been trying to fly and circle around the sky through my imagination.”

The Oasis collection is both a distillation and a refinement of the strengths of the BAGASÁO house, mainly the construction of highly defined shapes made special with very fine details: a polka-dot “print” achieved by embroidering tufts of thread to the fabric, hand-pleated drapes exaggerating the balloon of a skirt, strategically placed darts to guide the flare of wide-leg culottes. Bagasao created a collection that gives a feeling of lightness and freedom.

He started his brand back in 2016 but has been in the industry earlier than that. He graduated from the Fashion Institute of the Philippines in 2011 and worked with the global brand Josie Natori in 2012. He was a finalist in Inquirer Lifestyle’s Look of Style Awards in 2015, then became one of the Top 3 winners of the Philippine Fashion Meets Tokyo sponsored by Bench where he showcased his collection during Tokyo Fashion Week and had a pop-up store in Harajuku.

Soft yet structured and judicious detailing

In October 2020, his brand with other seven Filipino designers were chosen to undergo mentorship and a three-day showroom and exhibition in Tokyo called PHx Tokyo showcasing his 2022 Spring Summer collection. This was done virtually due to the pandemic.

“When I started the brand I always thought that I should run the company with sustainability and consciousness as part of its core,” he says. “Since being 100% sustainable is almost impossible and extremely expensive to execute, what I did was to create a list of things that I needed to check slowly as we grew the brand.”

“I think our model saved us during the pandemic because our production was highly controlled,” Bagasao adds. “Our business model is 90% pre-order. We create only for a specific demand, and we do not have excess inventory, aside from pieces/samples we produced in the beginning of the brand.”

He also developed relationships with clients, “We keep their records and when they order there is not much back and forth. Everything is delivered to their doorstep.

“I realize I have been trying to capture a lot of emotion, especially feelings of warmth and freedom,” Bagasao explains.

The collection was borne of a desire to escape to and remember sunnier landscapes. “Whoever looks at it is immediately transported. It harks back to a freer time. It softens, urging us to keep hoping and to keep looking forward.”

Pristine white with touch of whimsy, the see-through back

Read more:

Why Michael Leyva thrives even in pandemic

‘Inuwak’: Lesley Mobo creates the mourning terno

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