Filipino clothing designer stitches name into Utah fashion scene

By Jared Bray, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 10, 2013

Provo, Utah – When Nephi Garcia moved to the United States 10 years ago, it wasn’t to create stylish clothing.

“After I moved here, I was going to nursing school,” he said, “and, you know, it was alright. It was what my parents wanted me to do. It was what everyone wanted me to do.”

But it wasn’t what Garcia wanted to do, and that’s why he recently decided to shake things up.

“I decided to go for something I was really passionate about, which is fashion design,” he said, “especially after I met my wife. She pushed me and told me I should follow my dreams.”

It took some time, but thanks to two classic Filipino qualities – “sipag” and “tiyaga” – Garcia has started to stitch his name into the local and national fashion scenes.

A few months ago, the Pangasinan native was named Salt Lake City designer of the year by RAW artist, the biggest indie arts organization in the nation. The honor has led to opportunities to have his work featured in fashion shows in California and New York.

“It’s great,” Garcia said. “I think it’s amazing, and I’m just happy to see that people like my work and appreciate the things that I do.”

Garcia said the thing that sets him apart from the rest, the thing that has helped him find success, is his simple style.

“I don’t like designs that have too much detail, that have too much going on that it drowns the model, it drowns the woman that’s wearing it. I want it to enhance the actual model, the actual beauty,” he said.

Garcia, who produced his first wearable garment at 12 years of age, gets most his inspiration from his fashion-oriented relatives.

“My grandmother was a fashion designer as well,” he said. “She graduated from fashion school in the 40s, and I got a lot of inspiration from her designs, and after her, there’s my uncle, who’s still a well-known designer in the Philippines. His name is Rusty Lopez. He designs shoes and some apparels, and I’m hoping that I’ll get my name out there as well like him.”

It shouldn’t be too long before Garcia’s name is seen by numerous Utahns – especially now that he has plans to open his own clothing store by the end of the year.

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