Do you know this guy? Well, you will, soon. Robert Cordero is my friend and a Filipino designer based in New York City. He owns the bag brand called BAMIN (Build and Make It Now), a customizable leather bag that morphs into various shapes and sizes, which will soon be available in Manila this month.
Learn more about Robert and his craft in my interview below.
Ria: You juggle different roles and do a lot of traveling for work. What fashion styles and lifestyle habits help you become more driven and versatile?
Robert: My wardrobe is quite minimalist (black, white, blue, and gray) and I’ve “modularized” what I wear where I just add certain things to my look. I practically look the same day in and day out but with very minor tweaks here and there. This allows me to spend less time thinking about my clothes, [and gives] me more time on doing things and giving me energy to make more important decisions. It’s quite efficient.
How has being a Filipino contributed to your experiences as a designer and an entrepreneur? In what way did it give you an edge in the field?
Filipinos are a mixture of many different ethnicities and influences, which makes us adapt easily to many situations and be more open-minded to new things. In any entrepreneurial venture, those are two important qualities that allow you to experiment until you find something that works. As a population, Filipinos are one of the most successful immigrants according to the US census. That’s due to a tireless work ethic, which, I think, is a big part of the Filipino identity.
What’s your foremost design philosophy? What’s the key to establishing a brand that outlasts the industry’s passing fads?
For me, less is always more. And whatever it is, it needs to have both an aesthetic and functional value that’s particular to people’s lives. It’ll make it very personal and meaningful regardless of fads.
With today’s fast-changing media landscape, how do people keep track of changing trends? Can you recommend certain sites, magazines, or social media platforms that people should keep an eye on?
The lifespan of a “trend” is so short these days, and to keep track, I usually just look at my Instagram and Facebook feeds where I follow people and magazines I like. Since I’m less of a participant in social media and more of a consumer, my network curates the information and surface news that’s relevant to me. I follow the Business of Fashion (my main source of fashion news), The New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Talks, The Economist, 032c, i-D, Techcrunch, Ideabooks, The New Yorker, Fantastic Man, Gentlewoman, etc. I also have lots of friends who text me randomly about cool things that are going on.
Your job is a mix of every hobby and interest you’ve pursued. What should people in their 20s do when they want to establish a career in the creative industry?
Each person’s professional journey is different so there’s no real one-size-fits-all path that anyone can follow. Unlike many industries, say law or medicine, where there’s a predetermined course, the creative industry is more mercurial. I think that’s why my journey has been circuitous. In that regard, it’s very important to tirelessly work on your craft—design, writing, styling, etc. [You should] learn how the creative business works, carve out a niche for yourself, and surround yourself with a network of supportive people.
BAMIN will be sold in Function Room, G/F The Icon Residences Tower 2, de Jesus Oval, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on Thursday, Oct. 22 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Ria Prieto is the editor in chief of Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.’s Inquirer RED, Philippine Daily Inquirer’s editor for Preen Lifestyle, and Preen’s editor at large. Follow Ria and Inquired RED on Instragram.
Photo courtesy of Robert Cordero