Young Filipino ‘trashion’ designer featured at WEF in Cambodia

/ 08:26 PM May 10, 2017

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Francis Sollano had always been passionate about arts and fashion but his conservative Chinese family wanted him to go into business.


He compromised by working as product manager of world-renowned fashion designer Kenneth Cobonpue. This allowed him to dabble in design and eventually find his niche in designing what he calls “trashion” dresses.

Sollano is the lone Filipino exhibitor of this year’s World Economic Forum on Asean here in Cambodia. His dresses are haute couture and runway-ready but are made from trash like discarded plastic bags and bottles.


The 30-year-old designer calls it wearable art.

It is both a fashion statement and a call for people to pursue sustainable lifestyles.

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

He first came up with the idea when his car was submerged in flood while he was driving around his hometown, Cebu City.

“It was just a little bit of rain, maybe 5 to 6 minutes, but it flooded already,” he recalled.

He said that he was annoyed by the problem caused by garbage but also noticed how the children were having fun in the rain.

“There’s still beauty and fun,” he said.

Sollano said the frustrated fashion designer in him decided to “create haute couture out of garbage.”


His first client was a friend, a beauty queen from Cebu. She wanted a dress like that of Lady Gaga.

Sollano started getting clients from abroad, institutions commissioning him to create wearable art and installations for museums and galleries.

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

He also co-founded a non-profit group, Youth for a Liveable Cebu, that allowed the youth to use their creativity to solve urban issues.

Sollano said it was the second time that he worked with the WEF. He was also a speaker at one of the conferences in Davos, Switzerland and it was after his stint there that the organizers invited him to stage his own exhibit.

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

“They tapped me because they felt, aside from my work as an artist and (founder of a) non profit, they felt it was a very good mix to represent and lobby for policies and regulations that our world leaders would listen to coming from the youth sector,” he told the Inquirer.

He said his main goal is to promote sustainable fashion. He said fashion is one of the big sources of global waste.

“Our growth is extremely high and we’re growing so fast that consumerism is already at its peak,” he said.

He said Filipinos can teach others about resilience and resourcefulness.

“That is something we can show to the world. We have this resiliency and with that resiliency we can create beauty out of nothing,” he said.

This year’s WEF on Asean, which will be attended by more than 700 business and government leaders, will focus on youth, technology and economic growth. /atm

Francis Sollano - Phnom Penh in Cambodia 0 May 2017

Francis Sollano is the lone Filipino exhibitor at the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Photo by KRISTINE ANGELI SABILLO /

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

Photo courtesy of Francis Sollano

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TAGS: Francis Sollano, recycling, trashion, World Economic Forum on Asean
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