I meet CJ Cruz in 2008, while shooting Fatima Rábago at my house.
Kai Huang was the photographer. Melvin Mojica (L) and I were styling.
At that time CJ was practically a baby at 16 years old, the same age as my baby sister Ana.
He had tagged along as Melvin’s assistant and now considers Melvin his mentor.
Since Melvin considers me his mentor, does that make me CJ’s grandma mentor?
Shortly after we met, CJ moved to London to study fashion design but would frequently return to Manila, where he interned for Melissa Dizon at Eairth and eventually set up his own workshop in Taguig.
“I’ve been in London for five years now since I was 16,” said CJ. “My dad is from London and I am British by default of citizenship. I wanted to explore the culture I didn’t grow up in, since we moved to Manila when I was four years old.”
CJ ended up studying at London College of Fashion under the BA Programme and did very well.
His capsule collection was recently featured in Vogue UK.
“It’s a visual autobiography,” CJ explains. “These are clothes, silhouettes, and colours that I trust and stand by. I pragmatically designed them and continuously pushed the envelope of its possibilities.
I believe it’s an honest, discreet, and intimate collection—very personal from the development of the fabrics with the mills, cutting and producing it, adding all the final details.”
Everything was made in the Philippines.
“It is also a challenge to myself regarding integrity. I believe in integrity and hopefully that is one thing my generation can sustain and push for—quality over quantity. Grounding oneself and being self-aware helps a lot, it makes one see what we really want.”
So what’s next for Carl Jan Cruz?
“Slow motion. I have designed this be a permanent collection that I can keep offering and developing whilst growing in the industry. I am still up for serving time under houses I believe in, and that will make me grow.”