The fashion industry is built on goodwill. It’s a matter of common decency for a designer to be transparent about his or her creations. It’s only but a given for stylists to also be honest about their projects. Designers and stylists operate on mutual respect as they recognize the artistry of one another. It’s also all about professionalism, just like any other industry.
But when someone breaks the rules, who can either stylist or designer turn to for justice?
This is what designer Tony Evan had to deal with when he discovered his gowns allegedly didn’t end up on the shoot he was promised. Earlier this year, he lent some gowns to stylist Syper Abel. Syper requested for the pullouts by saying they’ll be used for a shoot to be published in a luxury lifestyle magazine. “I asked for more details and he told me he wasn’t completely briefed, but what he was told was that it was for a certain socialite and the shoot location is in Balesin. So I said okay.”
“A week after, he duly returned all gowns and said he’ll notify me when the editorial will be released,” continues Tony.
So far, so good. Or at least until Tony’s boyfriend received a message that a friend’s sister wore Tony Evan gowns for a shoot. “I got confused since I checked the girl’s Instagram and saw BTS posts from [a] shoot in Balesin,” relates Tony as he saw the gowns he allowed Syper to borrow in those Instagram posts.
Tony asked Syper if the shoot pushed through. The stylist’s answer still remained that the shoot did happen and that the corresponding editorial will come out by March or April.
“Fast forward to just last week, [a client of mine] told me she attended a grand debut party and the debutante was wearing Tony Evan on the invitation as well as the photos used for the LED backdrop at the party. She also told me that my name was mentioned in the acknowledgment segment,” says Tony.
Once again, Tony asked Syper about the shoot. Syper then sent photos. These photos weren’t for a luxury lifestyle magazine though, they were for the invitation magazine of a debutante. The same debutante Tony heard about from his boyfriend and his client.
“So my suspicion was confirmed. He lied about the [magazine editorial and just] used the name [of the magazine] to pull out gowns from me. The gowns were used for his personal styling gig,” says Tony.
The designer confronted Syper through Facebook Messenger. Syper didn’t see the problem in what he did as he insisted that he put Tony’s dresses on the cover of a magazine.
Tony blocked Syper on Facebook but posted the screenshots of their conversations on his feed. Friends and colleagues of Tony reacted to the post. Menswear designer Vin Orias approached Tony as he had an incident with Syper as well. “My partner Jamie Go had a bad experience with Syper of not returning pullouts as well as running away from his dues.”
As we mentioned earlier, designers and stylists operate on an honesty system. Tony relates how allowing stylists to pull out for projects should be for the mutual benefit of both parties. “The stylist gets paid by his client, a designer gets photos of celebrities or models wearing his garments which he could use for social media.”
Knowing all the details is crucial for the business of the designer. It’s not just about getting photos, regardless of where they are published. “It’s the designer’s choice if that project is something in line with his branding and has the right to decline,” says Tony.
Since the industry is small, there is just an unwritten agreement to work with integrity. However, as our story relates, some infringement still occurs. When this happens, there is no set way to pursue justice. Tony resorted to social media in the hopes that fellow designers, editors, stylists, and other industry members would be more aware. He wanted to point out how such conduct can ruin professional relationships, which reflects badly on the fashion industry as a whole.
In turn, such a system leaves the other side vulnerable as well. Who can the stylists run to if the tables are turned? If all agreements are left unwritten out of mutual trust, what happens when it’s broken? Is posting on social media and expressing a public outcry fair?
In the interest of fairness, Preen.ph reached out to Syper Abel to get a comment on the scenario. Syper declined to speak further on the matter. Preen.ph is still open to hear out Syper’s version of the events.