Growing up surrounded by clothes lovingly made by her grandmother, Samantha Dizon developed a fascination for the process of transforming a material into a finished, ready-to-wear product.
“I grew up with my lola, she was a garment worker in Rizal. She used to make gowns,” recalls Dizon. “I like clothes but I am not a fashionista; I am more interested in the construction of clothes, from fabric nagiging (it becomes a) gown. I find that exciting.”
Dizon studied Economics, thinking she would someday work for a bank. Her plans took a turn as she got involved in social development projects. “We learned about social enterprise, businesses that can help the poor. I said to myself, ‘Oh, my God this is the life that I want!’” she shares.
While working for an e-commerce company, she launched Candid Clothing in 2017 as a side business, offering apparel made with upcycled fabrics and made by local seamstresses.
Candid Clothing, available via its website, is known for versatile pieces in timeless silhouettes.
“Our designs are straightforward and functional. You can use it every day, hindi malalaos agad (it won’t go out in style),” she enthuses.
The label’s bestsellers include bamboo T-shirts in classic V-neck and crewneck styles, flattering button down made of cotton fabric, reversible tops, and dresses and blouses that can be worn in four ways.
Candid Clothing is priced competitively compared to other sustainable fashion brands, mainly because it utilizes upcycled fabrics. According to Dizon, the materials they source are sold at a lower price because of minor damage like small holes or discoloration in some areas. The fabrics are actually considered rejects or wastes because big manufacturers cannot work with damaged materials.
“Big manufacturers use automatic cutting machines, so the fabric has to be perfect. At Candid Clothing, everything is sewn by hand so we can just cut the hole or remove the damage. We get the fabric at a lower price, we pay our workers well and pass on the savings to our buyers,” she explains.
Aside from sustainable style, the heart of Candid Clothing is Dizon’s commitment to empower workers through fair pay and flexible work arrangements.
“We do not have full-time workers. Most of our seamstresses are mothers and they prefer to work at home so they can also look after their children,” she says.
Dizon adds, “They are paid based on output. If the design is more complicated, they are paid more because it will take a lot of time. Most garment factory workers in Rizal earn P350 day or P7,500 a month. We try to give our employees as much work as we can. If they work at home for eight hours straight, they can earn as much as P16,000 a month.”
When garment factories closed during the lockdown in 2020, displaced workers approached Dizon asking for work. “They were daily wage earners, and they weren’t earning because business stopped. Kabado ako (I was nervous), but I took a leap of faith. There was a demand for facial masks and PPEs, so we were able to provide work for them.”
The production of Candid Clothing’s facial masks has not stopped since. They continue to get orders, mostly from individuals who wish to give away masks in community pantries. All profits support the livelihood of displaced workers in Rizal.
As part of the brand’s ethical business practices, Dizon also imparts leadership training to her garment makers. In her five-part video series, entitled “Candid Conversations”, she sheds light on how her business operates—ensuring products are sustainable and accessible, and employees are paid fairly and equipped with skills and support to become more entrepreneurial.
“When a community is completely dependent on you, it is not empowering,” Dizon points out.
“It is important for our workers to be self-sufficient. We teach them how to compute actual costs, so they charge the right fee instead of saying the usual ‘bahala na po kayo’ (it’s up to you). We emphasize the importance of work quality and meeting deadlines. We even allow them to sell their products on our site.”
Candid Clothing’s tops, dresses, bottoms, and accessories are available at www.candidclothing.ph.
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