ti­pay cain­tic

Can one re­ally wear Ti­pay Cain­tic’s sur­real knits in real life? JED GRE­GO­RIO talks to the de­signer about show­cas­ing at Lon­don Fash­ion Week, a flirty Aussie eye candy, and the perks and per­ils of putting your name on a tag.

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What’s your work process like?

It al­ways starts with an idea, whether I’m de­sign­ing a col­lec­tion or for a pri­vate client. The idea is the guide, the start-off point for de­sign. Any­thing that you do has to mean some­thing—an in­ten­tion—or else you’re just adding to the noise of the over-sat­u­rated vis­ual world.

I usu­ally start with words, then sil­hou­ettes, then I start sketch­ing. Then [I think of] the col­ors. At ev­ery stage, I con­sider the us­abil­ity and end pur­pose of what I am de­sign­ing. You also have to be aware of how to pro­duce the things you are imag­in­ing. The worst ideas on pa­per are the kind that just re­main as that—ideas on pa­per.

You have to know how to make your ideas a re­al­ity, or at the very least, know how to go about to nd­ing the right peo­ple to ex­e­cute it for you. Re­al­is­ti­cally, with any pro­ject, you are work­ing with a bud­get. So I do my re­search and be­fore let­ting in­spi­ra­tion get the best of me, I al­ready know the lim­i­ta­tions of the ma­te­ri­als, dead­lines, and man­power /ex­per­tise, then I work within these lim­i­ta­tions. It’s part of the chal­lenge!

You de­scribe your aes­thetic as off­beat, overtly sub­or­di­nate, and un­se­ri­ous. Who’s that girl?

I imag­ine the per­son who is at­tracted to my clothes has a sense of hu­mour. It takes a cer­tain devil-may-care at­ti­tude and a not too se­ri­ous per­cep­tion of self to pull off the clothes I de­sign.

What was it like be­ing able to bring your clothes to the In­ter­na­tional Fash­ion Show­case at Lon­don Fash­ion Week last year? And get­ting in­ter­viewed by CNN?

It’s all busi­ness as usual when you’re there, emails and co­or­di­na­tion, noth­ing fancy, like a brisk jog. Un­til I went back home and stepped back from the sit­u­a­tion, I didn’t re­ally re­al­ize the ex­tent of what just hap­pened! The in­ter­view and fea­ture by CNN was un­nerv­ing. We had two days of tap­ing. The rst day was a Q&A on the spot, with the pro­ducer in­ter­view­ing me. It was all very per­sonal, and the pro­ducer was a very em­pathic and pas­sion­ate per­son. I did my best not to be too emo­tional. The cam­era­man was this cute and irty Aussie who had the male ver­sion of my real name. So a very se­ri­ous and heart­felt in­ter­view was jux­ta­posed with an eye candy dis­trac­tion on the side, ha ha!

The sec­ond day, Myleen Klass, a Fil-Brit pre­sen­ter, came on the open­ing of Fash­ion Week. We were walk­ing through the oor, dis­cussing my clothes, my process, and our coun­try, while se­cu­rity held back the crowd who wanted pic­tures with her!

What made you de­cide to do fash­ion de­sign, and how is it dif­fer­ent from your other jobs be­fore?

I was once an art di­rec­tor in an ad agency. On the side, I’ve worked as a spe­cial ef­fects makeup artist, stylist for com­mer­cials, and pro­duc­tion de­signer. The dif­fer­ence this time is that I be­lieve in my out­put. In advertising, I was al­ways left with the feel­ing of dis­con­tent. That was it? All that hard work, un­godly hours, and this is it? A few sec­onds on tele­vi­sion, or a bill­board, who re­ally cares? I felt like all my in­stincts were off in the dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines I’ve worked in. I al­ways felt like some­body else could do a bet­ter job than my­self, and felt like I wasn’t ap­ply­ing as much of my­self as I should’ve been for a job so con­nected to who you are.

Now with my name con­nected to what I make, the line be­tween who I am and what I do is a blur. It’s a bit prob­lem­atic at times to think that way. But some­thing I re­al­ized about my­self is, the more in­vested and com­mit­ted I am to some­thing, the bet­ter I am at it.

I no­tice that you of­ten work with knit. Why is that?

I love knits be­cause you start with the thread, the most ba­sic unit. A strand be­comes yarn, yarn be­comes stitches, stitches be­come fab­ric, fab­ric be­comes clothes. I love to cus­tom­ize ev­ery­thing and have com­plete cre­ative free­dom. I love hand­made things. You can do any­thing when you don’t buy pre-made ma­te­ri­als. Ad­mit­tedly this makes it a bit more costly, but all these pro­cesses make it more spe­cial. I also love leather, calf, sheep, and snake (my fa­vorite). I would like to work with more skins. I love cot­ton be­cause it feels sub­stan­tial as a fab­ric and very light on the skin as an ar­ti­cle of cloth­ing. I love nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als but I am also very much in love with syn­thet­ics. I love mak­ing my own prints. And play­ing with tex­tures! There are so many pos­si­bil­i­ties with syn­thet­ics, but our tech­nolo­gies are not yet at par with other coun­tries. So I try to work with in­dige­nous ma­te­ri­als as much as pos­si­ble be­cause this is where our strengths lie. My knits are al­ways made from pineap­ple ber and cot­ton.

How do you deal with neg­a­tive com­ments and de­trac­tors?

I zone out. Wash them off me like wa­ter. Ha ha! They’re just words any­way.

What’s your ad­vice to young peo­ple who want to do fash­ion de­sign, but are dis­cour­aged, per­haps be­cause they’re told it’s not lu­cra­tive?

Who says fash­ion is not lu­cra­tive? It is a multi­bil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try, it tran­scends borders, race and space. It re­de­fines it­self ev­ery sea­son. It’s an an­i­mal that will never die. We have to smarten up and undo bad habits if we want a ca­reer in a volatile in­dus­try.

Sharpen, grow, and guard your tal­ent like it is your only life­line. Do the ac­tual ground­work and be­hind-the-scenes hus­tle that could af­ford you the cre­ative free­dom you de­sire. Think of it as your busi­ness, and act like it’s your busi­ness. Don’t down­play what you are do­ing as a hobby or a gift you give out for free.

Build your team and nd peo­ple you can trust. This in­cludes friends, col­lab­o­ra­tors, sup­pli­ers, stylists, pho­tog­ra­phers, mod­els, muses, seam­stresses—the list goes on for­ever and for­ever. Un­der­stand that no man is an is­land. You have to be an in­de­pen­dent-think­ing, func­tion­ing en­tity, but re­al­ize that you can­not do ev­ery­thing at once. I think ev­ery­one is blessed with his own skills and po­ten­tials. It is up to you where you want to go with it.

“You have to be aware of how to pro­duce the things you are imag­in­ing. The worst ideas on pa­per are the kind that just re­main as that, ideas on pa­per.”

Fash­ion de­signer Ti­pay Cain­tic, pho­tographed by Paolo Crodua for Scout.

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