Filipina fashion designer carves a name in Osaka

A young Filipina fashion designer based in Osaka, Japan, has continuously etched a name for herself – and for the country – as she faithfully upholds unique craftsmanship in all her creations. Her name: Pamela Madlangbayan.

FASHION DESIGNER: Pamela Madlangbayan

Pamela’s father was once an OFW. Longing to be together, the family relocated to the Land of the Rising Sun in 2006. However, come college, Pamela wished to alleviate some of her parents’ financial burdens. Thus, she earnestly searched for scholarships all across Japan and beyond. She was accepted into the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, where she finished her Fashion Design and Merchandising degree.

As the worrisome pandemic halted the world into an absolute standstill, Pamela, on her final year, had serious second thoughts on her specialization.

“I didn’t know whether I should even pursue fashion since nobody really needs designer clothes during a global crisis — at least that’s what it felt like,” she earlier admitted.

Still, she continued to tread on her chosen path. Before long, she found herself back in Japan, a fashion capital of the world, creating bespoke pieces for the Japanese fashionista crowd.

Today, she is an essential component of EINS, a curated vintage shop in Osaka. Armed with black suits, she breathes new life into these coats as she paints, embroiders and reshapes them.

MASTERFUL EMBROIDERY: Hand-stitched detailing on a vintage jacket

“I feel almost like Dr. Frankenstein, busily stitching together different suits and trousers to construct new hybrids. We gained a niche circle of clients who ordered these deconstructed avant-garde garments, as well as the custom painted suits to don for special occasions,” she said.

She has likewise began teaching part-time at a major fashion institute, as an interpreter for Oleg Mitrofanov, a professor at various universities and colleges across continents. The duo covers courses from Introduction to Fashion and Concept Creation to reviewing student portfolios for the students’ graduate collection.

As of recent, Pamela is busy with what is perhaps one of the most important projects in her career so far – the TAYO Fashion Showcase as part of the Filipino-Japanese Friendship affair, the first of its kind in Osaka.

Founded by the illustrator and textile designer Feanne, Pamela was then tapped by the Philippine Consulate General as the event coordinator.

TAYO, with a double meaning — us or to rise in Filipino and diverse or multicultural in Nihongo — will host a group of established fashion and jewelry designers from the Philippines, joining sustainable fashion designers from Japan in a celebration of craftsmanship.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be able to bridge two of my homes through the fields I’m most passionate about,” she said.

“The idea that we can be anything and everything all at once” is what continues to inspire the young fashion prodigy. “I can be anything as long as the hunger and passion to learn is present. The thought that I can grow and evolve into someone with an enriched mind and enhanced soul through arts is what keeps me truly going,” she disclosed.

During her free time, she loves to stroll across the city and take pictures with her film camera — I repeat, film camera! She likewise makes an effort to use less social media, plus a term called touching grass which means to unplug and enjoy real life, which allows her more opportunity to appreciate nature and meet new people.

On the other hand, she acknowledges that as a self-labeled “Official Grown Up,” pressure is internal. She breaks down steps one by one – and her anxiety disappears.

“Pressure is something that we instill into ourselves. You’d be surprised how little people expect from you because they’re too busy tending to their own.”

Let us hear from Pamela Madlangbayan on all the various aspects of her interesting life in Japan:

TOKYO FASHION SCENE: EINS bondage suits Photo credit: SHIN (@s.yoshi8024)


After a year and a half, we got the attention of a popular high-end curated vintage store within the Shimokitazawa neighborhood in Tokyo. They currently hold my pieces with the EINS label tag and my artist alias Sabotten as the signature on all painted items.

I’m very proud of the creations that I was able to produce with only little resources, a lot of imagination and many hours of manual labor. Therefore, to have those stocked in the heart of Tokyo’s alternative fashion scene is such a huge motivation for me to continue slowly, but surely!


CLASSIC REBIRTH: An EINS painted apparel

Her alter ego:

Sabotten is alive and well! I’ve used that alias as my artist identity because I feared that Pamela Madlangbayan as a person might change the perception of the clients towards the art I create.

The reason I kept my identity anonymous for my work at the brand is because I do not submit to the MODE-KEI fashion tribe — which is our main clientele. With fashion, it’s never just about the clothes, people buy the personality and the perception that comes with it.

But now that my namesake label is in the works, I am gradually bringing the two artist identities together. After all, despite the contrasting elements, these are all a body of my field.

I embrace everything now, without trying too hard to set them apart.

ALTER EGO CREATION: Custom-made Sabotten illustrated garment


It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with Oleg Mitrofanov. Last December, we went to the most prestigious fashion school in Tokyo to conduct a week-long winter seminar. I’ve dreamt of – and even made it a goal at one point – to enroll at this school and it feels surreal to be teaching there.

NOBLE INITIATIVE: Pamela’s designs are brought to life by members of the FIBERS community Photo credits: Pamela Mejia/FIBERS

TAYO collection:

The latest collection that will be unveiled at TAYO is a love letter to our laborers.

My grandfather and those who came before him were produce farmers, mainly coffee, fruit and vegetables in Silang, Cavite. My great-grandmother was a seamstress during and after the war. They are my roots. Therefore, I want to honor my family, as well as those who continue to work in these sectors.

Since the event will take place right after the Philippine Independence Day, I should shed the spotlight on our farmers and textile industry workers and craftsmen. I believe that they are the pillars of our society, often overlooked. However, they are the ones who keep our nation’s traditional agriculture and culture alive.

My creations will be the “friendship show piece” of the event, one that binds both cultures. I am aware with the issues surrounding cultural appropriation and tokenization. I see both the Philippines and Japan as my homes, having lived here for almost two decades. Yes, I did a lot of research as to how I can pay homage to both cultures with the utmost respect.

FILIPINO-JAPANESE ELEMENTS: The Kimonoterno, a combination of two national dresses

Advocating Filipino craftsmanship:

When talking to my Japanese peers, most of them do not really have an idea of what the Philippine fashion scene is like. I think it’s always worth talking about how much talent and skill our craftsmen and designers have, as well as our very rich culture and heritage.

I’ve always wanted to share this aspect of the Philippines here in Japan and I believe the best way to do it is to, just do: Put out works, talk about Philippine fashion, promote my Filipino friends’ brands to Japanese friends.


Empowering marginalized women:

Though charity is altruistic and wonderful, it’s still a temporary fix to deep-seated social issues. I think the best way to uplift less-privileged communities is to connect and cultivate new groups where everyone can share their skills and experiences for the betterment of everyone involved.

Through a referral of Allesandra Gutierrez, currently based in the Philippines, I was given the privilege to work with Fashion Innovative Businesses for the Environment, Reformation and Sustainability, a collective actively moving across countries in Southeast Asia — from the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. I likewise connected with Pamela Mejia who spearheads a communal project that empowers marginalized women through needlework and other crafts.

IN HER WORLD: Pamela on a business trip in Tokyo

Advice to aspiring fashion designers:

Being a designer is not a race. It’s a discipline that you hone over the years through practice, coupled with a lot of research. Stay grounded, remain eager to learn, try to look outwards, not inwards. See the world and think of what you can offer. Otherwise, we’re just creating more landfill.