And the Top Designer for this year’s Fashion Week San Diego is…Sharlene Borromeo! Let’s give her a big hand! Wait, scratch that. Let’s get up on our feet and give her our best slow, Pinoy pride clap. To become the Fashion Week San Diego’s first and only plus size designer for 3 years in a row now, Sharlene and her fashion brand A’doreus truly makes us ecstatic and proud.
As someone who hardly knew how to sew, rarely interested in fashion magazines and never followed trends, Sharlene never imagined she will embark on a journey in the glamour world. It was during her business internship with the renowned fashion designer and icon Zandra Rhodes that she discovered her artistry and, through Rhodes’s encouragement, pursued Fashion Design.
While her mentor is known for her revolutionary printed textiles and eye-catching designs, Sharlene wanted her line simple and functional. “I utilize classic silhouettes, simple style lines and focus on the details of the garment. I love piping, using different trims and combining different fabrics and textures for a luxurious, one-of-a-kind piece.”
Also, she creates from the heart and for the body she intends to clothe. Oftentimes, her own body serves as her inspiration. She always considers what a petite woman in size 18-20 with big arms, round belly and thick thighs would want to be seen wearing.
“My brand, A’doreus, is a direct reflection of who I am. A’doreus is a lifestyle of a’doring and embracing diversity and size acceptance through the many facets of fashion.” It’s her brand’s purpose to address the scarcity of feminine, elegant and comfortable apparel for plus size women and “fix” the stigma that fellow big women endure in the society.”
What sets A’doreus apart from other plus size brands? While other designers launch their collection at events that cater to the plus size audience, Sharlene opts for a wider reach. She explains, “Fashion Week San Diego is primarily a mainstream fashion event with thin models and a lot of swimwear. Showcasing a collection at FWSD is a way for me to change people’s mindset of what plus size fashion looks like and understand its relevance in the mainstream fashion industry, especially because 70% of all American women wear a size 14 or larger. I view my efforts as a social movement to embrace diversity and size acceptance”.
Now let’s take a look at her favorite designs from her collections for the past 3 years.
Upper left: Mullet skirt made of 100% silk with black piping that served as her finale piece for FWSD 2012. Upper right: Vintage key-inspired pattern printed on organic cotton sateen fabric. This print was used in her FWSD 2013 collection. Lower left: The right kind of sequins that doesn’t scream “plus size”. Lower right: Combination of several fabrics in one outfit which Sharlene considers as her signature style. All photos from Sharlene Borromeo.
Dress with sweetheart neckline and hi-low circle skirt. For Sharlene, it’s the chevron fabric with sheer eyelet chiffon overlay, pinstripe bow and gold trim detail that makes it look magical. Photos from Sharlene Borromeo.
Now that Sharlene has achieved immense success, what can we expect next from A’doreus? “I plan to use the next year to promote A’doreus, possibly seek a manufacturing company to begin production and complete another collection for FWSD 2015 to complete my commitment with them. What happens next? I’m not sure. It really depends on what doors open for me within the next few months.”
In December, A’doreus will be recognized at the Silayan National Organization’s “Honoring Filipinas in the Arts” for her efforts in the fashion industry. Plus, she’s currently collaborating with blogger Crystal Coons for a plus size styling book. And speaking of collaboration, she is open to work with Filipino designer/s when she gets to visit the Philippines again.
In closing this interview, she shares these words of wisdom: “For any aspiring fashion designer – plus size or not – my advice is to design with purpose. When you do things from the heart, with a conscience mind and conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity, it’s easier to navigate through the politics and competitiveness that comes with the fashion industry. Use your moral compass. As far as making it big…When I figure it out, I’ll let you know! Until then, perseverance is key,”