Designer Esme Palaganas unfolds her #SartorialSenses as we talk about her brand Basic Movement, her involvement in the ever-growing Philippine fashion industry, and of course, her first crush.



Hi Esme, what’s your fashion story?

It’s very long but I’ll make it very short. I started as an intern for Philippine Fashion Week under the Public Relations Department for 7-8 seasons around 3 years starting 4th year high school. When I was in college I worked part time for a manufacturing company for two years. After our graduation show, my collection got picked up by publications and it opened doors for me like the now defunct SOMA Stores in Green Sun Hotel. It served as my training for on the floor retail which taught me that there’s so many aspects that makes up a fashion brand or a fashion name. From SOMA Stores, through the Manila Fashion Festival nomination of designers that will be joining I was luckily brought to the table. And the rest well, it’s still an ongoing story.


I Googled you and on top of the results page is your brand, “Basic Movement; Constantly changing. Constantly moving.” Tell us more about it.

Basic Movement is less of brand, and more of a canvas for me to communicate through the use of clothes and visual imagery. I really love telling stories and sharing the things that I know, Basic Movement isn’t a carrier of basic clothing, as what people will initially think it is, but a canvas for me to create things without being put into a certain box, a certain style or a certain genre. Hence ‘Constantly changing. Constantly moving,‘ we live by the belief that change is the only constant thing, especially in the world of fashion. We feed on change.

Basic Movement is a platform, where the person takes the center stage and the clothes are merely an accessory of how we live and feel better.


How do you translate ’embracing the new and respecting the old’ through your designs?

I have my personal design heroes, and learning through their vision and philosophy and approach in clothing is my way of respecting them. I love the greats like Dries van Noten, Yohji Yamamoto, Paul Poiret, Madame Gres and Christian Dior and their approach in clothing.

I have this fascination with nostalgia and romanticism, I have new ideas everyday and I want to combine all of those together so that people can wear it on a daily basis. Right now, I feel there’s a lack of love/fascination of dressing up in the morning, off how it makes you feel better/act differently.. so really bringing forward my love of history and romanticism into visual imagery and clothes, is my way to bring back that art/feeling back.


What’s the signature Basic Movement look?

I actually don’t know. But I do know that what I’m making is fantasy based in reality. It dreams but it’s grounded. It’s not pedestrian but it’s for people to wear.


In a discussion with L’Officiel Manila on your aspirations for the Philippine fashion industry, you mentioned about the market being not ready. Do you imagine the Filipino market being as accepting to Filipino designers and their brands as they are to foreign fast fashion brands?

I was rebutted by someone of what I said on that article, and in fact that the market is ready. It’s the designers that aren’t. With that, I realized that maybe it is and it’s the way we present ourselves that makes in unaccessible to market. I’m changing that, it starts with us, the designers, to change the way how people see clothing as just a practical thing than a part of who they are, and how they present themselves to the world.

I have my plans but we’ll keep that ho-hum for now. The market just needs to see us in a different light, and that’s our job as designers. We’ll get there, we’ll get out of the traditional ways but still respecting their essence, and we have to innovate especially in this age of the internet, where it’s faster.


Do you consider yourself as a newbie in the fashion industry? What’s it like to be part of something that’s big and still growing?

Yes of course. I still have things to know and discover. But hey, everyone is a work in progress especially now that there are so many changes in the fashion industry. What’s it like to be part of something that’s big and still growing… well, it is pretty exciting. There’s so many possibilities, people to meet, and people to learn from.


Being part of Manila Fashion Festival and consigning to different stores, where do you see Basic Movement a year from now?

Still innovating, especially on how we can present ourselves to the market – merchandise wise, business structure wise and branding wise. We’re just two years in, there’s so much that can be done.


Here’s an ice-breaker. Who’s your first crush?

Can I have two? Haha: Daniel Radcliffe and Gerard Way.


Photos courtesy of Esme Palaganas / Featured image from