Creative Director Of Handbags, Anne Klein & Nine West
Rafé Totengco says that he's been designing his own clothes since he was a child. In this interview, Totengco takes us through his prodigal success in the Philipines and gives his sturdy, specific advice for setting yourself apart from the crowd in your first job.
Rafé Totengco is a Philippines-born fashion designer. In the 80s, Totengco moved to Manila to pursue an undergraduate degree in advertising, since no fashion degree was offered at the time. After dropping out of school to pursue fashion, Totengco started designing his own clothing line in Manila.
A few years later, Totengco visited his sister in New York, fell in love with the city and eventually went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. Upon graduation, Totengco landed his first job in New York as an illustrator and assistant designer.
After success as an assistant, Totengco decided to open his own company selling skinny belts and wristbands to a store in SoHo, which led him to design bags. Totengco’s accessories line was soon picked up at Bergdoff Goodman and Fred Segal amongst other luxury outlets.
In 2006, Totengco produced the first designer accessories capsule collection for Target. In 2010 he became the creative director of handbags for the Jones Group, whose brands include Anne Klein, Stuart Weitzman and Nine West.
Totengco was named recipient of the 2010 Filipino Presidential Award for bringing the country “honor and recognition.”