PHNOM PENH–Apart from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, there is another Filipino who will take center stage in this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Francis Sollano, 30, a graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu, is the only Filipino and only ASEAN designer exhibitor in this annual event attended by around 700 leaders from business, public sector, science, arts, civil society, media and international organizations.
The dresses on display were designed by Sollano who used plastic waste from his home province of Cebu into wearable art for his sculptural and functional dresses.
Sollano, whose exhibit is outside the Plenary Hall, is excited to see and meet President Duterte in person as the latter walks through the red carpet to attend the Opening Plenary of the WEF regional meeting.
An artist and co-convenor of Youth for a Livable Cebu, the young Filipino designer is no stranger in such gathering of world leaders, having been part of the creative team of Kenneth Cobunpue who designed the venue for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) welcome dinner held in Manila last November 2015.
This is also not the first time that Sollano attended a WEF gathering.
He is one of the Global Shapers chosen by WEF in Davos, Switzerland, for his art of “trashion” which uses trash and upcycles into fashion garments.
“We create fashion accessories, jewelry, clothing and costumes from what used to be considered garbage, thrown away items, and they are given new life by creating more value into them,” Sollano said.
He added that he needs to be very creative and innovative to make the garbage or trash into something that the public or the mass media would appreciate saying that the “movement” has seen positive feedback from the fashion industry.
“More fashion brands are looking at how they can make use of their wastes into something functional. From their waste they create into bags or other components in their new design. That is how the fashion brands are now moving themselves adapting to the idea of trashion,” Sollano pointed out.
According to The New Plastics Economy, a WEF report, the world’s oceans will be filled with more plastic than fish by 2050 in terms of mass.
“It is painful to see garbage littered all over the cities. I wish to reignite a culture that truthfully values our environment and takes responsibility over our garbage,” Sollano said.