June 27, 2017
Robert A. Vergara Jr.
Cover art Samantha Gonzales
Afashion designer profiled by British Vogue sashayed in the retail industry in 2009 with absolute honesty—the complexities of her gender and sexuality as a lesbian.
“I consider the LGBT as an inspiration,” Kaye Morales told SparkUp in an interview at her atelier in San Antonio Village, Makati City. True to form—and with the memory of struggling with clothing choices as a young boyish girl—the 33‑year‑old Ms. Morales is a purveyor of designs that cater to people of “all sexual orientations and gender expressions.”
These styles range from oversized and edgy pieces, to fabrics bursting with rainbow colors—the global colors of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) pride.
Her direction sprung from her desire to be free. “I didn’t want to work while hiding something,” she recalled. “At one point, I had been put out to my friends, but not in the industry where I worked. I wanted to be real and I wanted people to know the real me, so I can work properly.”
Art Samantha Gonzales
Her sartorial passion began to express itself at the De La Salle‑College of Saint Benilde, where she took up interior design, then production design. She was aware of being always noticed for her fashion taste.
The call of the catwalk drew her to the SoFA Design Institute in Makati and eventually to London’s Central Saint Martins, whose notable alumni include Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.
“I was still studying, but a lot of fashion editors were already recognizing my works,” she said. “That’s when I decided to start my business.”
Initially managing two brands—her eponymous clothing label which featured avant‑garde pieces, and Schizo, which offered street wear—she later merged the two to avoid brand confusion among her customers.
Today, Ms. Morales continues designing and running a business. Gazing at the spotless white floor of her shop that lazy weekday afternoon, she tells a story about receiving an offer by the country’s largest retailer to set up shop in their malls, which she had to turn down. “But I still need to study mass production,” she says in hindsight. Still, among her plans is opening more outlets, including, perhaps, outside the country. So far, her mother is her main investor.
Late last year, she diversified and added to her portfolio Nectar, a Bonifacio Global City-based luxury nightclub for the LGBT. She is a co‑owner.
“It’s really a hard business,” she said about the cutthroat industry. “Every day there are new designers. But I can say that I have become braver in my seven years so far.”
“I want to prove that I have worth even if I am a lesbian,” she finally declares.
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