SLOWLY but resolutely and steadily, designer Mitch Desunia quietly toiled on her craft, away from the social whirl of the fashion world. From making paper dolls to honing sewing skills handed down by her seamstress mother to repurposing pre-loved clothes to setting up her own shop, Mitch has ran the gamut of struggles of a creative talent.
“It wasn’t easy. It was like a rough road that never ends. But through hard work and perseverance, I was able to establish a small dress shop in Las Piñas in 2009, three years after I left our town in Sorsogon. Business was sometimes up and sometimes down. It was harder than I thought it would be,” Mitch shared.
“I experienced going to Divisoria soaking wet in the rain, I experienced being bashed and humiliated, I experienced not having enough money for dinner. I cried a lot that I almost gave up,” she recalled. “But there’s this voice in my mind that tells me, ‘You cannot go back to Sorsogon a loser! You have to stand up and finish what you started!”’
The Mitch Desunia Spring/Summer 2020 Collection highlighting inabel luxe.
All Mitch could do was pray to God, call on all the saints and implore the universe for guidance. The response was overwhelming: “2016 was the breakthrough in my career. It was the year I first joined a show during London Fashion Week, at House of Ikons, a designer platform for creative people across the globe.”
With a renewed confidence in herself, Mitch enrolled at the University of the Arts London-Central Saint Martins to further enhance her design skills. She took up Fashion and Textile Forecasting.
“I didn’t realize at that time that this course was about to prepare me for something bigger: creating an RTW line. A year after, in the summer of 2017, I was able to launch Mode, an RTW high-street clothing brand for kids, men and women. This brand is now available at select Finds Finds at Vista Malls nationwide. In the later part of 2017, I introduced Mode in the UK market,” Mitch, 40, revealed.
In 2018, she established IDO Manila, an RTW line of occasion dresses for women available at select Robinsons department stores nationwide.
This year, she launched Desunia Beauty Essentials, a health and beauty line, and the luxury label, Mitch Desunia London, which is about high-end clothes, shoes, bags, scents and accessories for both men and women. The Mitch Desunia label was also able to license Mode UK.
After her international debut in London, Mitch participated in group shows in Milan and Paris over the years. She also did a show at Cannes. In 2012, indie actress Mercedes Cabral wore a Mitch Desunia black gown during the awards night of the Venice Film Festival, where Thy Womb, her film with superstar Nora Aunor was screened.
But the need and necessity to show in her own country became too compelling for Mitch. So she conceptualized “Entwined,” her Spring/Summer 2020 Collection. It’s her brand’s formal introduction to the local market.
Entwined is about giving a special spotlight on inabel, which Mitch personally adores: “It’s a method of handweaving that produces a fabric that I can consider next to a Chanel tweed. I have this strong collaboration with the weavers in Ilocos Sur, and we’re working nonstop in improving inabel in many ways. I love working with them. To mark the luxury in style, I created Cars X Couture as the concept of my solo show, where luxury cars and luxury fashion are presented on the catwalk.”
The driveway of Palazzo Verde in Las Piñas also served as the runway as posh vehicles and inabel weaves took center stage on November 22. “Fashion is for everyone. Fashion is not supposed to be selective, and fashion has to respect all sizes, shapes and colors. The Mitch Desunia brand is proud to say that we love all men and women. We embrace all sizes, shapes and colors,” she enthused.
Philanthropy was also the purpose of the event. As the current president of the Rotary Club of Makati Southeast, Mitch is implementing three signature projects: Operation Braveheart, giving free minimally invasive heart surgery for kids with an open hole in the heart (patent doctus arteriosus) and a hole in the heart arteries (atrial septal defect); Bahay at Yaman, where they provide livestock production to produce food for their adopted street children in Bulacan; and Project Inabel, for the indigenous weavers in Sabangan, Santiago, Ilocos Sur.
What excites Mitch nowadays—and makes her anxious, as well—are the frenzied preparations for her show at the House of Lords, Palace of Westminster, arranged for her by Marie Fairbank, the doyenne of Fil-Brits in London.
“On February 21, 2020, there will be another milestone for the brand. For the first time, we are going to have our first solo international show. I am still in awe at the moment. I didn’t really expect it’s going to happen but everything is in place,” a grateful Mitch said. “I will present at least 38 pieces for Autumn/Winter 2020, which also includes children’s and teens’ wear. I am happy that right now, we are becoming a better version of our brand each day.”