Chynna Mamawal on the importance of understanding the business side of fashion – Manila Bulletin

The celebrity fashion designer-turned-businesswoman launches the first physical store of homegrown clothing brand Casa

Being creative for fashion designers is natural. Getting their minds focused on the numbers and other aspects of the business, however, is quite challenging. For a clothing brand to thrive, fashion designers and entrepreneurs shouldn’t just keep their eyes peeled on the latest trends and promising sources of inspiration but also on the shopping attitude of their market. Understanding the consumers’ wants and needs and putting an artistic spin on them is key to turning a humble fashion label into a business champion.

Chynna Mamawal

That is the formula celebrity fashion designer-turned-businesswoman Chynna Mamawal follows when it comes to her brand. She believes that her upbringing and background in retail played huge roles in her journey in the local fashion scene. With her passion for design and entrepreneurship, she has dressed many of the Philippines’ most stylish personalities. But when the pandemic struck the country, she shifted gears by producing not only bespoke pieces but also offering everyday clothes to Filipinos—a testament to her mastery of understanding consumer behavior.

“I grew up in a family where everyone is business-minded. It just happened that I really love fashion,” Chynna tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I notice when I was starting fashion school, my classmates are all creative. They’re so good. We have a lot of artists that are superbly talented. The thing is that they are forgetting that it is still a business. They keep on creating clothes that are super beautiful but they don’t think about who is going to wear them, will people buy them, and how much are people willing to pay for them.”

During the pandemic, Chynna put her retail specialist cap on and launched her ready-to-wear line dubbed Casa. Offering casual wear made by Filipinos for the Filipinos, the label was her answer to the challenges brought by COVID-19 to the local fashion industry, a time when many brands and designers were pushed to downsize their business. After finding success online, Casa now explores physical retail with the opening of its first store at Isetann Recto.

Chynna Mamawal with 4th Impact during ribbon cutting ceremony

According to Chynna, Casa’s target markets are Gen Zs and young professionals, and opening a store along the University Belt will be an advantage to the brand as it explores physical retail. She describes crafting the brand’s pieces as a collaboration with her consumers.

“When I design, the process is always 50 percent listening and observing the market and the other 50 percent with gut feel and my design aesthetic,” the designer muses. “It is a collaboration between the market and me. I design something that, I believe, they need and want.”

“I think that’s what separates me from other fashion designers. I have a very strong business background,” Chynna continues. “For me, design and business go hand-in-hand in fashion. By the end of the day, you have all these utilities you have to sustain. So, it is very important to balance both.”

To celebrate Filipino fashion more, Chynna dreams of bringing the wonders of Casa nationwide with the goal of building 60 stores in the next four years. Part of her goal as well is to share her affordable pieces internationally to further showcase the incomparable talents of her compatriots.

“I think it’s about time that Filipinos appreciate Filpino-made products,” she says. “I want my body of work to be defined by my ability to conquer what could be, and my fearless drive to create, no matter what the canvas is or what it looks like.”

Discover more of Casa’s everyday pieces at Isetann Recto in Manila City.

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