Rafe is now Travelife's new Global Editor at Large
After years of traveling the world searching for inspirations for his handbag and shoe collections, internationally-acclaimed Filipino-American designer Rafe Totengco has decided to record and share his travel experiences via a regular column in Travelife Magazine, the Philippines’ leading travel & lifestyle publication. Rafe joins Travelife as Global Editor at Large, and his first column will appear in the February-March 2010 issue.
“We are pleased and honored that Rafe Totengco, one of the most successful Filipinos in the international fashion scene today, has accepted our invitation to join Travelife as Global Editor at Large,” said Travelife Publisher Christine Cunanan. “We believe that Rafe’s writings about his wonderful and stylish adventures all over the world, combined with his wit, humor and eye for perfection and detail, will be an endless source of enjoyment and information for Travelife’s readers.”
Rafe launched his namesake handbag collection in New York in 1995. Since then the Rafe brand has grown to include women’s handbags, shoes and small leather goods. Known for its balance of fashion and function, Rafe blends uptown sophistication with downtown edge while remaining classic enough to be worn for many seasons to come. Over the years, Rafe has become one of the most acclaimed of a new generation of American designers. Today he is President and Creative Director of Rafe New York, which is nearing its 10th anniversary.
In 1989, Rafe left a successful clothing business he started in Manila to pursue his dream of a career in fashion design in the Big Apple. He moved to New York, enrolled in FIT, and supported himself as a design assistant. In 1994, he produced his first collection of accessories: belts and watchbands for a SoHo boutique which sold out instantly. When the shop asked him if he had handbags to go with the items, he enthusiastically said "yes" even though he didn't have a single bag made yet. One year later, the first collection of Rafe New York handbags debuted Bergdorf Goodman's uptown. In 1995 Rafe worked out of his apartment with one assistant making bags and belts in a few of the last holdout factories in Manhattan’s garment district. In order to grow business, to sell Rafe personally made cold calls and brought his collection to stores. By 1999 with a small infusion of cash and help from family and friends to he was able to expand to over 60 department and specialty stores worldwide.
Rafe Totengco is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
He has been recognized in his field wih numerous honors including:
FRESH FACES IN FASHION
Gen Art Foundation, 1996
THE “TEN BEST” AWARD
ENK International, Fall 1997
FINALIST, PERRY ELLIS ACCESSORY DESIGN AWARD
RISING STAR AWARD
Fashion Group International, 2000
BEST ACCESSORIES DESIGNER
Accessories Council, 2001
TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men)
Philippine Jaycees, 2002, awarded by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Filipinas Magazine, 2005
ASIAN ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR
Asian Enterprise Magazine, 2007
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