Journey To The Runway & Beyond

2 CC

Taking to the Toronto Fashion Week runway for the first time next week, Christopher Paunil and his business partner Chalo Hancock are ramped up and ready to go. The duo have been in business with the Christopher Paunil brand for over half a decade, but are just now making their TFW debut.

While getting ready for the big day, both partners participated in the following #stmINTERVIEWED. Find out what they have to say about celebrity fashion brands and surviving in the industry.


I also have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about the show because…

– Christopher Paunil


1 CC

STM – For the first time, you will be showing your collection at Toronto Fashion Week this month. What does this mean for your brand? What has preparation looked like so far and what emotions are you experiencing?

Christopher – I think showing at TFW will add credibility to the brand, and help us reach a larger audience. We’ve been doing this for a few years now and I think the timing to show is just right for us. We had the bulk of the collection done in January, and now we’re just perfecting the looks for the show. There were moments during the sampling process that were stressful, especially when it came close to our shoot date as we had to have everything completed in time for our shoot in New York. But we managed to get it done with some late nights, and I’m quite happy with how everything turned out. I also have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about the show because I want everything to run smoothly and for the outfits to look their best on the runway. Let’s hope that it is well-received and that people will want to wear it! That’ll be a good sign…I hope to scroll through my instagram posts after the show and see what people are posting and saying!


I get to see a bunch of people wearing black in big dark spaces…

– Chalo Hancock


3 CC

Chalo – I think it’s important for the designer to show and I’m really excited for Chris and for us. We also get to build brand awareness and increase sales and our following. I get to see a bunch of people wearing black in big dark spaces, which is also fun. We get to invite our closest customers, buyers, mentors, friends and family which is a blast, right?! From a media angle it’s great exposure.


…I put myself in the shoes of a bad-ass woman that’s out taking down bad guys…

– Christopher Paunil


4 CC STM – As a designer Christopher, what do you enjoy designing more, ready-to-wear or bridal and why?

Christopher – I think that designing bridal comes more easily to me, and I love being a part of someone’s big day. It’s quite an honour when someone chooses to wear your dress down the aisle. If you think about it, someone has chosen to wear something you’ve created that they will look back at for decades, and show people pictures of, that will bring back memories of what’s often-times the happiest day of a woman’s life. I do also really love designing ready-to-wear though — I get to live in a fantasy world where I put myself in the shoes of a bad-ass woman that’s out taking down bad guys,


Then you have other celebs who shall remain nameless…

– Christopher Paunil


6 BRISTOW close up STM – What are your thoughts on celebrity fashion lines?

Christopher – I think some celebrities do it for the lucrative licensing deals, and others do it because they really have the passion for it, and it shows. Take Victoria Beckham (who I love!), and The Row (by the Olsen Twins) for example. You can see the art and effort that goes into creating their pieces, and it really comes across in how they’re presented and constructed. Then you have other celebs who shall remain nameless, who in my opinion are creating over-priced fast fashion that are being marketed to teens who are concerned more with status, than having a piece of clothing as an investment. So, some celeb fashion lines are hits, and others are misses for me.

Chalo – I like the sign of Kayne holding up the “will work for $53m” sign…. I think fashion has always been about building a following but especially now. So it’s easier for them especially if they have talent. If not, they can hopefully afford to hire talent on their behalf.


Fashion is a very tough business and you have to love it. Most days I do…

– Chalo Hancock


7 CCSTM – There was a point, Christopher and Chalo, where you were romantically involved with each other. This often happens with many business partners working very closely together. Unlike most, you have managed to continue working together after the relationship ended and seem stronger than ever. What do you credit this outcome to?

Chalo – Actually we started off as BFs and then became BFFs. It was a bit hard in the start but he’s like my brother so it naturally evolved into a non-romantic relationship… and now I’m really happy to see Chris with such a great guy in his life (Mike) and the three of us share the dogs and vacation together, we’re kinda like a family.


Mentorship is one of the most important factors for success.

– Chalo Hancock


colour fashion tools STM – Christopher, tell us about the collection you are showing at Toronto Fashion Week. Where did the inspiration come from? What can we expect to see?

Christopher – I always design from the perspective of a sexy woman out saving the world…”in diamonds, of course”. So for me, it’s about being comfortable while looking really chic, and maybe looking a little dangerous too. We achieve this through the use of unconventional fabrics (which are often knit) in a dressy/evening application and keeping our silhouettes timeless. I played a little bit with volume, which you’ll see in some of the pieces with more dramatic shoulders. I think that detail subconsciously came from my ethnic background. If you look up traditional Filipino dresses, you’ll find a lot of beautiful, architectural, dramatic sleeves.


And most fashion people like to party so that can be fun too.

– Chalo Hancock


IMG_0024 STM – You operated your company out of the Toronto Fashion Incubator for about five years. What were three key learnings you took away from being there?

Chalo – 1. Fashion is a very tough business and you have to love it. Most days I do… 2. Mentorship is one of the most important factors for success. Go find a bunch of awesome mentors. 3. Fashion is not what it may seem: there’s a lot people who care about each other and a community.


…then that dress stays lonely and can’t pay the bills.

– Christopher Paunil


CP 5 Headshot STM –  What would you say is the hardest part and then best part of working in the fashion industry?

Christopher – I think from my own personal experience, one of the biggest challenges is funding. When we first started out, we had a custom client base (which we still have) so we were never in a bad position — We always receive a deposit before we start a project, and receive the rest of the payment once the project is completed. Since entering the wholesale business, that challenge is more apparent when all production costs are taken care of up front, and we receive payment for the garments sometimes several months after they are delivered.

There are so many great aspects about working in the fashion industry. One of them is that I get to be creative and see my designs come to life, and see how people react to wearing them. I also love that every day of the week is different — one day I might just be working on patterns, the next I’ll be sourcing fabric, then fitting a client or two. It keeps things exciting, and interesting for me.

Chalo – I’s agree with Christopher on this one. From my perspective it’s just trying to be happy that fashion takes time – chip away, keeping swimming and keep smiling. That can be very hard for me. The best part for me is when a customer puts on a dress and you can see it in her face, in her eyes that she’s in love with her new dress and her new self. It’s a moment that I really enjoy… And most fashion people like to party so that can be fun too.


We have to remember that fashion is still a business, and the goal is bring in sales and make people look fabulous at the same time.

– Christopher Paunil


6 CC STM – How do you measure the success of each season?

Christopher – Ultimately, I think it comes down to the response, which is reflected in sales. I can love a dress with all my heart, but if no one else loves it the same way, then that dress stays lonely and can’t pay the bills;P. We have to remember that fashion is still a business, and the goal is bring in sales and make people look fabulous at the same time.

Chalo – I’d agree with Chris on this one but it’s also about energy. I think it’s about how effective our sales strategy is and how happy our customers and retailers were… This comes to life through stories.


Anyone entering this business needs to really be passionate about it. A thick skin doesn’t hurt either.

– Christopher Paunil


IMG_7338

STM – What do you see next for your brand and how do you plan to get there?

Christopher – I’d really like to see expansion into the U.S. and overseas, and we’ll get there with careful planning, determination, and hard work!

Chalo – Same as Chris. I’d like to see us take on other countries but one dress at a time.

IMG_8965 STM – What is your number one tip for someone starting a business in a creative industry such as fashion?

Christopher – Make sure you plan, and understand that it takes time and it will not always go smoothly. The fashion industry is amazing, rewarding and unpredictable. Anyone entering this business needs to really be passionate about it. A thick skin doesn’t hurt either.

CPD 1 Headshot


Fun facts about this duo:
Chris often sleeps with his glasses on, trained in Krav Maga for five years, and boxing for one. Chalo spends his down time with their two dogs Jes and Mila and claims one of his hobbies is to “bug Chris.”

Follow @christopherpaunil on instagram to watch Chris and Chalo’s fashion journey unfold.  For ticket info for their Monday, March 14th 8pm show at Toronto Fashion Week, click here.

All photos courtesy of designer.

 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *