I Am Her: Bianca Gregorio On Championing Sustainable Fashion

A fashion revolution in the works

Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.

Fresh off from college, Bianca Gregorio had a mission in mind — to make sustainable fashion mainstream and accessible. Her interest in advocating for sustainable living started when she was working on her undergraduate thesis. In her research, she stumbled upon The True Cost, the groundbreaking documentary about fast fashion, the garment industry and its effects on the environment. "This really struck a chord with me and made me feel that something had to be done," she said. Not long after, Re Clothing was born.

When asked about the meaning behind the brand's name, Bianca shared that she wanted something that was catchy and meaningful. "I choose Re Clothing because I feel like it encapsulates the essence of the brand which is to revive and give secondhand clothing a new life," she said. Ahead, our discussion with Bianca about her work process and tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

What does "sustainable fashion" mean to you?

It’s basically any clothing piece or accessory that was created or recreated in a sustainable and ethical manner. From the way the fabric was sourced, to how it was made and how the people involved were treated and paid — these are all key factors in determining if an item is sustainable or not. It may even concern how long the item will last and how it will decompose with time. It can also involve the process of how the discarded clothing is revamped so it can be worn again. It's a huge topic to tackle and it's a great challenge on the fashion industry on how to be creative without exploiting people and the environment.

What is something you wish people know about sustainable fashion?

I wish the stigma of it being an elite thing is lessened. It's understandable that the majority of sustainable brands are priced higher because the workers and the materials are paid and sourced ethically so it is priced the way all clothing should actually be. But at the same time, there are so many ways you can be sustainable without spending a lot of money.

Bianca Gregorio Re Clothing Sustainable Fashion

Revamped clothing from Re Clothing

For events, you can choose to borrow or rent clothing rather than buying; it also saves you money in the process. You can also search for trendy pieces in thrift shops. These cost you a lot less and the quality compared to fast fashion brands is usually even better so it'll last you longer despite it being secondhand.

I also want to remove the idea of secondhand clothing being unsafe or disgusting or any ideas related to that. As long as you boil and wash it, all the bacteria will be gone. I also think that there’s so much beauty in it as it tells a story. You also get something one of a kind for less than a quarter of its original price so there’s really nothing to lose.

How would you describe your work process?

When I get an idea for a collection, I make a list of designs that would suit it. Once I set out to look for secondhand clothing, I already have these designs in mind. But sometimes, I would stumble upon an article of clothing that's not really in line with the theme or the collection but if it would make a good custom piece I still go for it. The same goes for embroidery, there will be moments when I will have an idea that doesn't fit well with the collection. I still do it anyway, and most of the time, that's what sells first. I try my best not to limit my creativity.

Re Clothing at Kahilom, The Hub

In terms of logistics, since I'm currently a one-woman team, it's all about being organized. I'm so thankful for my family, my boyfriend and friends for helping me promote and market my product during events because even if I want to put all my energy just on being creative, at the end of the day it's a business. I have to make time for accounting and logistics and other serious things in order to keep the brand going.

Do you have any tips on how people can achieve a more sustainable lifestyle?

There's a misconception that you should throw everything you own that isn't sustainable and start from scratch. But doing that just ends up creating more waste so I think it's all about finishing and using up what you already have before finding sustainable replacements for them. There are so many bazaars and fairs promoting sustainable lifestyles all over the Philippines, which is amazing. You can start out with shampoo bars and bamboo toothbrushes and move on to bigger things as you go along like trying to bring containers and avoiding plastic waste whenever you go out.

With fashion, it's all about making the most of what you already have and sticking to your style because sometimes you buy something from a sale without any idea where you'd wear it and it just ends up in the back of your closet. I actually want to create more content about this through the Re Clothing website and I'm also considering starting a YouTube channel. As of now, everything's still in the planning stage.

What are your lifestyle essentials?

With skincare, eye cream is a must for me because I have the darkest eyebags despite having enough sleep. I also make sure to use sunscreen and moisturiser to keep the skin healthy and hydrated. I've only begun switching to sustainable products so I have a natural cream blush that can be used for the eyes, cheeks and lips so it’s easy to bring anywhere. I also use shampoo bars from Mayumi and their scent actually lasts longer than normal bottled shampoo, for my hair at least. I have a 'kikay' (vanity) kit in my bag, which has the blush, a small perfume, hand cream, hand sanitizer, efficascent balm for headaches, band-aids and a lip gloss for special events.

Where do you see yourself and Re Clothing five years from now?

With Re Clothing, I hope to have hired more Filipino garment workers because they're the real heroes of every clothing brand and I think it's important to treat them well and give them credit for all that they do. I also hope to have more physical branches with the main branch featuring a live garment process wherein people can see how clothing is made and the long and tedious process it takes to create a single garment. I think it will show people the value of their clothing and will hopefully make them cherish their clothes more.

Left: Re Clothing embroidery; Right: The founder, Bianca Gregorio, at a bazaar

As for myself, well, Re Clothing is already a big part of my goals but I also want to create more change in the sustainable fashion industry. I'm a social media manager for Fashion Revolution, which is an NGO that aims to promote transparency in the industry. This is something I want to promote further, and also maybe start more passion projects. I love fashion and I like showing people that dressing sustainably isn't boring so I want to create something along that topic. I have so many ideas that I just want to put out but, of course, I want to do it well and that takes time, so just watch out for a lot of exciting things from Re Clothing and me.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

Inspired? Check out stories of other exceptional women here.

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