Manila FAME redefines trade fair experience through digital expo

The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) held FAME+ Market Days, reinventing its celebrated signature show Manila FAME through an online expo with exhibitors from all over the country, an interactive program with international speakers, and networking opportunities to facilitate B2B transactions from 20 – 22 October 2021.

This three-day design and lifestyle sourcing festival featured a digital expo that showcased the country’s home, fashion, and lifestyle design industry. With the cancellation of physical shows since the start of the pandemic, Manila FAME has not been held for two years now. Nevertheless, the export promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry adapted and launched a new and exciting online experience for the exhibitors, buyers, and enthusiasts.

“While this is the second year that we are not able to gather together physically for Manila FAME, there is no stopping us from telling the world about Philippine design,” says CITEM Executive Director Pauline Juan during the event’s opening program. She furthered that the FAME+ Market Days was designed to “light up ideas, inspiration and new or rekindled connections,” among its participants and guests.

FAME+ Market Days harnessed the strength of the community CITEM built on Manila FAME’s online platform “It’s been a year since we launched FAME+ with around 100 exhibitors and welcomed more than 14,000 visitors by the end of 2020. Since then, we’ve slowly—but surely—built the community platform by opening more digital storefronts for more exhibitors, creating quality content and spreading awareness on our media channels and participating in digital editions of overseas trade fairs (OTFs),” Suaco-Juan added.

The digital event gathered close to 300 exhibitors, both from established and new players, and hundreds of buyers and guests from several countries including Australia, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Canada, Great Britain, Vietnam, and Korea.

There were over 3,000 varieties of products exhibited during the 3-day visual fest. Products displayed ranged from beauty and wellness, fashion, furniture, gifts, home decor and houseware, and lamps and lighting.

Design Commune’s Light the Way and insights from global thought-leaders highlighted in FAME+ Market Days

Design Commune, a crowd favorite from the past editions of Manila FAME, led the first day of the visual expo under the direction of FAME+ Creative Director Vince Uy. Renowned architects and designers such as Aya Maceda of a New York-based design firm ALAO, Architect Nicole Tan of interior design firm Boon, and Casa Bella’s Co-founder Stenie Coyiuto-Tay. Product designers Rachelle Dagñalan of RADA Collab, Principal of Estudio Ruiz Design Consultancy Stanley Ruiz, and the tandem of ZACARIAS 1925’s Creative Director Rita Nazareno and Open Studio’s Head Designer Gabby Lichauco, were also present to form the insightful segment relating to the “Light the Way” theme of contemporary designs.

“This year’s Light the Way, is a multifold concept that discusses several interesting points: First is the idea of “maaliwalas,” a term used by one of our curators, ALAO’s Aya Maceda in her interview with the New York Times, to describe a generous space that is open and bright, with a good flow of light and air,” said Uy. “This unique term to describe interiors is something inherently Pinoy, and we thought it would be a great theme to play with while showcasing proudly Pinoy pieces as well.”

“Secondly, the pandemic has allowed home decor to act as a conduit of positivity for many, an outlet where they can foster positivity, or an activity that allows them to remain positive despite the challenging and changing times,” added Uy.

One of the anticipated talks on the first day of the event was from Vogue Business. Representatives from the illustrious online fashion industry publication participated to provide information on how the Philippine creators could adapt to the innovations, trends, and technologies among other factors.

Anusha Couttigane, Head of Advisory at Vogue Business, spearheaded the session “PH Fashion: The Leap to Global.” She discussed how the Philippine fashion industry can penetrate and make its presence felt in the global market. Other members of the Vogue Business team including Kati Chitrakorn, retail & marketing editor; Bella Webb, editorial associate; and Jasmine Gao, advisory manager for China followed through a group conference and shared further information for local creatives on how to compete on the international stage.

The first day was capped off with a trend forecast and immersion by Fashion Snoops (FS). The New York-based trend forecasting agency discussed the trends for Fall/Winter 2022-2023 with the aim of empowering brands, retailers, manufacturers in different industries, such as home decors, marketing, and other consumer-based businesses, in preparing for this upcoming season.

The FS Trend Forecast segment was presented by experts from the fashion industry like Vice President of Menswear Michael Fisher who shared his own techniques and pointed out several factors in fashion that would transform the creative landscape. Other Menswear members also joined in the discussion about current fashion advances.

“As humans, we all need to follow a collaborative design and not corrupt mother nature,” said Fisher.

The presentation was followed by a series of Trend Immersion breakout sessions, which shared insights on how the Fall/Winter 2022-2023 trends can be applied to specific product sectors, such as accessories, apparel (activewear, intimates, men’s, women’s, and youth), beauty, and home.

Success stories from local artisans

Filipino designer Tony Gonzales kicked off the second day of FAME+ Market Days. He talked about the use of the abundant natural resources of the Philippines and how they are combined with the creativity of Filipinos to make a huge impact in the design industry both locally and internationally.

Meanwhile, one of the most-attended talks was by Visions & Expression President Ginggay Joven-Dela Merced. The veteran PR and expert marketing strategist, in her talk entitled “Creating Compelling Content that Connects: 7 Brand Storytelling Tips,” shared practical and actionable suggestions that can help businesses effectively communicate their brand identity and create meaningful connections with their target audience.

Sunnies Studios Co-Founder and Brand Director Georgina Wilson ended the second day of FAME+ Market Days by sharing how Sunnies Studios reached its pinnacle of success, specifically its strong online presence and ability to market to the Social Media Generation. She spoke about the importance of being genuine and cultivating relationships with consumers who truly enjoy the product. The discussion also delved into the use of social media and how to maximize and stand out on different platforms.

Participants were also treated to an insightful session from Canva, where Social Media and Community Lead Gladys Lacorte shared branding and visual design tips that businesses can find through the Canva for Negosyo resources for MSMEs.

The importance of and need for sustainability were also highlighted in a series of talks.

Mike Claparols, co-founder of Creative Definitions, a social enterprise working with several weaving communities on Negros Island emphasized that being sustainable goes beyond materials and processes. “It’s not only environmentally friendly and contributes to the green movement but also to social compliance. So we have to have certifications that our workers are fairly compensated,” he explained.

Carlo Delantar, co-founder of Altum Concepts a design studio focusing on Circular Economy, meanwhile, explained the importance of applying Circular Economy when it comes to designs toward a greener and sustainable environment. He noted that the Circular Economy is “restorative and regenerative” which he said that businesses should not center only on profit but also to the people and the planet.

Worldwide courier DHL discussed how micro, small, and medium enterprises can seize opportunities by expanding to other territories.

DHL also had a lecture on vast rules, regulations, steps on how to properly export their products. Rules that were not limited to export the process but also to the required standards of the products.

Also streaming throughout the three-day event was a moving lookbook from interior designer Vianca Soleil who shot the film from her inviting seaside escape in Romblon and featured her choice fashion pieces from the FAME+ catalog, and “merienda” tablescaping tips with HappyTummyTravel’s Chichi Tullao.

The seasoned food stylist gave an extensive walkthrough on her tips and tricks on how to make tablescapes more fun and exciting, together with fresh design ideas that can be brought to the table.

Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings were also facilitated during the three-day event, as buyers and exhibitors were given a chance to meet, exchange ideas and information, and explore business opportunities.

The event also partnered with key business movers who made the digital trade show possible and continuously helped CITEM shine the light on Philippine design: PhilExport, Design Center of the Philippines, DHL, LandBank of the Philippines, Converge, Filigree, and Canva for MSMEs.

FAME+ Market Days can be re-watched on Follow them on Facebook at

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