Kate Torralba: Jane Of All Trades

Designer and musician Kate Torralba tells Cosmo all about her career in fashion, and how it started as a happy accident. She inspires us to pursue what we love, too.
Kate Torralba's creations are bright, colorful, and fun (as you saw in yesterday's gallery of Kate's latest knit collection)—much like their dynamic designer. Spend five minutes in her presence and you'll realize that her energy and optimism are infectious. We call Kate the Jane of all Trades because not only is she a great fashion designer, she's also a talented musician who's played gigs all over town and in places like Singapore and Paris. Nowadays, she's trying out events production, and we can only try to guess what's next on her long list of things to do.

Here, she talks to Cosmo.ph about that which she loves to do and what women in general adore: fashion.


How did you get started in fashion?


By accident! I started as this girl who liked to dress up, and I couldn't afford to shop na. I always liked to dress up, and I always liked getting dolled up for special occasions. What happened was, I was set to study in UP Cebu and we didn't have a uniform. And then I figured, with my allowance, I couldn't afford a new outfit everyday. So what would make it feasible [for me to] have a new outfit everyday, [without having] to pay full-price?

I started designing my own stuff. I used to have clothes made by Cary Santiago, who is huge and is one of the most important designers in the Philippines today. Cary used to make my special occasion clothes, and he had to leave for the Middle East to seek greener pastures. And I'm like, "Cary, who's going to make my party dresses?" He said, "Well, you can make your own stuff." And then I figured, "Yeah, oo nga 'no?" I would save money, make my own clothes, it would be fun, and that was it.

I was 17, and in lieu of a debut fund, I had money. I bought equipment, then I borrowed a spare apartment from my grandparents, and I had a shop. At 17, I had a shop! I made clothes for my little siblings, for my friends, my family. It was more of a fun thing.

I never thought this would be my job! I thought I'd be working for magazines or in advertising. That's how I started. It was pure hobby. All the breaks I got were by accident.


Why do you think fashion is important?

Because it's self-expression. Before you can even say a word, how do you project who you are, to show the world "this is what I'm about"? It's through your clothes, it's through your outfits. It's a very, very crucial tool for projecting your identity.


What sets you apart from other designers?


I think the whole personality that's attached to the label called "Kate Torralba" is just...me. For some time, I had a hard time reconciling that I'm a brand and then there's also me. And it was hard to detach from that. "Okay, if my clothes don't sell, then how can I make it not mean anything about me?" It's the person behind the brand, I think. I think my clothes have a certain look to them. They're not exactly the most complicated or sophisticated clothes, but they're clothes that I like, and that's what makes them distinctive.


Lots of women feel that fashion is geared toward thinner people. What do you think about that?


I don't think so. My view of it is that we live in times where the individual is celebrated, so whatever body type, whatever personality you have, you can enhance that and make it your own. We live in a very individualistic society now. I don't think that ever holds a woman back from celebrating her body and wearing what she likes.


You wear a lot of hats. You're a musician, a designer, and now you're going into events production. What hat have you not tried on but would like to try?

I'm curious about being a mom, being someone's mom. I think about that, but I haven't made up my mind about the whole "husband" thing; my parents seem to think I should be a wife first before I become a mom. I really love kids. Especially now, I have a niche market of stylish kids. Really stylish little girls. I love being around them. I think about that, but it's not an immediate thing. I have a lot on my plate. But when it happens, it happens.

That is so cool. I think that's the best job in the world, being someone's mom. But it's scary.


How do you think you've inspired other women?

I think I inspire other women with my story of how I became a designer, how I became a musician. I think about how, you know, I'll be in the mall, and I'll bump into these young girls and they say, "Oh, you really inspire me." And you know, sometimes you're not having such a good day, and then you're like, "Yeah oo nga 'no, I'm actually doing a good thing." And it's really great that I was able to create a label and make a name for myself just by being myself and doing the things that I love. I think that's a really cool thing. It's really cool that you can just be yourself and do the stuff that you love.


What makes you fun and what makes you fearless?

I guess I have balls? Haha! I just do what I want to do, I do what inspires me, and I do all that in the face of my own fears. I'm not entirely fearless. I have my own fears, too, I have insecurities. But I go out there anyway and do what I want to do and make the most of my life.


Click through to the Gallery below to see more pictures from the shoot.
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