By Jordan Grantham, Catholic Outlook, October 2016
Akita Sanchez is a young Filipina-Australian fashion designer who was profiled by SBS Radio on 12 September 2016. Akita regularly attends Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta. In the radio interview, she shared her refreshing philosophy of ‘dressing up for God’ with a wide audience.
Akita spoke in her beautiful and gentle voice about the truth of the faith and the impact that has on her fashion. This included fashion tips in general and at reverent occasions, especially the Mass.
“A priest told me to go to daily Mass and said it would change my life,” she said. “You are presenting yourself to royalty – Christ the King, he is really present.”
Akita said fashion informed by faith continues from Mass and into daily life “by exposing the beauty of a woman, not through her body, but by designing clothing she will feel confident to wear”.
She advocates that when dignified design accentuates a person’s personality, it has been successful in a Catholic sense.
“There is a balance in designing for fun but also designing to accentuate personality. That is where the faith part comes in.”
Akita’s inspirations include designers Issey Miyake and Kenzo, childhood memories of folding origami, the colour of nature and incorporating the faith in subtle ways. Eastern culture has provided many influences, such as simple and fluid silhouettes.
The strong faithful following in Filipino culture is interested in the topics of the Catholic faith and fashion. This can seem like a “contradictory spectrum”, according to Akita.
Some current fashion trends are too revealing, which requires creativity to harmonise with the requirements of faith.
“To be able to combine these two together, it’s as if something has to be overridden in the place of the other, so when a balance is achieved, it has a unique effect.”
Other popular trends, such as folksy dresses, are more modest and require less adaptation to avoid being compromising.
“As a Catholic, I believe your faith is something that cannot be compromised.”
Akita was the NSW sector head of Youth for Christ and involved in youth ministry. Giving ministry talks was a regular part of her life.
At present, she is taking a break from commercial design and is focusing on curating her own style. Feedback from friends, both male and female, has been helpful to discern what works.
The SBS interview was brief but received wide coverage because it was shared across social media and positive feedback has flowed in from many people. “It has been quite humbling to know that people have actually listened to it,” Akita said.