By: Lalaine Ignao
” I realized that I wanted to make a difference with my blogs…”
Gabi Pangilinan, also known as “Fashion Gabbs” on Instagram, was born in Honolulu to Filipino immigrant parents. She grew up very independent in a sense where she wanted to do her own thing and not follow the typical Filipino family social norms of pursuing a traditional career such as becoming a nurse. She considers herself more of an artsy person and was into music, drawing, painting, dancing during her formative years. Fashion became a passion for her in high school when she began watching Project Runway with her parents. Initially attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa for fashion design, she quickly realized that making fashion was not her calling. Instead, she went into marketing and decided to create that into passion with fashion. After going through a roller coaster trying to find a career that best suited her, Gabi has worked with multiple fashion retail stores before finding her current career with Goodwill.
Lalaine: How did you start Fashion Gabbs?
Gabi: My whole Instagram started when I was working at Forever 21. I was really inspired by styling the mannequins, how my coworkers would style their projects and that’s when I realized that I wanted to express my sense of style and start a blog so I started up on Squarespace. I got more into Instagram trying to figure out ways to get my name out there and I would have my friends and family help me take photos of my outfits. I continued to do that when I was working at a law firm and just blogged about fashion. I didn’t know what kind of direction I wanted to go with it. I was just doing all kinds of topics. Once I gained more traction, I realized that I wanted to make a difference with my blogs. So as I was hanging out around local businesses more often, I decided that I wanted to help them in a certain way through fashion. I started going to those businesses with different photographers who wanted to build their portfolio and interview those businesses, take photos with their products, do some lifestyle shots in their store or in the restaurant and then I would write a story about them. I wasn’t the best at writing, but I did the best with what I got and just tried to be straightforward with my story.
Lalaine: How would you describe yourself?
Gabi: Someone who is quirky, trying new things, keeps pushing herself to do more than what is currently happening. Someone who’s trying to help people find the best in themselves, push their limits a little more and inspire others.
Lalaine: How would you describe your fashion style?
Gabi: People can categorize others as a particular style, like boho or chic or edgy, but I’m kind of all over the place. I think that’s because I’ve been thrifting a lot more at Goodwill now and everytime I go there, I always find something different. So my style changes up every day, every week. One day I’ll be a little more feminine. The next day, I will be a little more edgy or a I’ll be hobo chic. I don’t really have a style, but it’s just whatever my mood is, whatever my closet has available.
“..when I started my job last year, that’s when I really got into thrifting and understanding the benefits of it, not just from me saving money, but also how it helps the environment and sustainability.”
Lalaine: How do you see your fashion sense grow from when you were younger to now?
Gabi: So when I was young, I was used to shopping at the mall with my mom, whether it was Ala Moana or Waikele outlet. Back then, I was into brands. I was that girl who was into Forever 21 and Abercrombie. In college, I got into more high end stuff like White House Black Market, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic. Then when I worked at Bloomingdale’s, I got into even more higher fashion. It made me spend more money but not understand that I was wasting money on a lot of pieces that I wasn’t even using much. A little before I started working at Goodwill, I became more mindful of my spendings and started to thrift. But when I started my job last year, that’s when I really got into thrifting and understanding the benefits of it, not just from me saving money, but also how it helps the environment and sustainability. So my fashion taste went from brands, to high end stuff down to thrifting, vintage and pre-loved items.
Lalaine: What pushed you to become more sustainable and how do you practice it?
Gabi: One, I’m still paying my student loans and I want to be more mindful about how I spend my money on fashion these days. Two, after working at Forever 21, I realized how much of their clothes go to waste. I wanted to get away from that mindset and then Goodwill opened my mind to reusing used clothes for a better purpose.
Lalaine: Who are some of your inspirations in fashion?
Gabi: For looking a little more business high end and the chic, I really love following Micah Gianneli. She’s a fashion vlogger and she like edits her own photos. She’s phenomenal. I look more towards Pinterest for any other kind of fashion. I also look to my other friends like who have their own sense of style. My friend Kanako does a lot of DIYs. Like she will take some of her the items and upcycle them into a completely different piece. For example, she had this Tommy Hilfiger collared Polo and she cut it in half. The bottom half was made into a bandeau and the upper half was made into a crop top. She’s an inspiration to me. And I have a friend named Kaci who’s more into the EDC scene, so very rave and whimsical, almost kind of like has this fictional kind of a look in some of her outfits and makeup. So yeah, she’s also an inspiration to me.
“Don’t worry about what other people think. If anything, don’t be afraid to try new things.”
Lalaine: What is an example of when you tried something new with your fashion style?
Gabi: Something that I wasn’t sure of at first last year was playing with color. Although I was all about color coordination where, for example, if I had a something blue, I had to have something like white or neutral to go with it. But now, I’ll put yellow and blue together or purple, pink and orange. Like why not? Or I had this one vintage suit that has these patches of colors and the white parts of the sweater are fuzzy. But making uses of statement pieces like that is another fun way to try something new. Whenever I thrift with Goodwill, I would always find those kinds of statement pieces and think about, what can I pair with this to make it into an outfit that nobody would ever think of and I actually did that with the vintage suit. So it’s kind of a retro look. Something that I want to do more often but I did a while back were closets swaps with my friends. That’s also something that other people can do to change things up on their wardrobe.
Lalaine: What is your like go-to outfit? If you were in a rush, what would you be grabbing out of your closet?
Gabi: It’s funny you say that because the pants I’m currently wearing are these stretchy high waist pants with gray and white stripes with asymmetrical pockets. I thrifted these from a little rummage sale at Kawaii Kon recently. I’ve worn these pants three times within the month already because I like how it’s really comfortable, it breathes well and it goes with a lot of my things. For footwear, I got these mules from Goodwill. I two pairs, one was in brown fake suede and then another one was in black fake leather. They have a little heel but they’re just so easy to slip on. So those are usually my go-to shoes whenever I’m in a rush to get out the house. For shirts, I’m pretty simple. I just grab whatever matches my bottoms usually like simple tops. I don’t go fancy with it.
Lalaine: What kind of advice can you give to those who are still trying to figure out what their fashion style is or what best suits them as a person?
Gabi: Don’t worry about what other people think. If anything, don’t be afraid to try new things. I always look for inspiration in magazines, Pinterest and I used to look up websites online for outfit ideas. Just open your mind to different resources for inspiration. Also, this is such a cliche that things thing to say and this is something I have to remind myself of a lot, but don’t prepare yourself to anyone else on Instagram. Go at your own pace and it’s okay to be inspired by other people by what they do on social media, but don’t let it take over your life. Don’t let it consume you.
Lalaine: What are your hopes for the future?
Gabi: My hopes and dreams pretty much involve moving out of here to a much bigger career that helps me expand as a fashion enthusiast, blogger and stylist. I don’t necessarily want to be the star thing or the blogging full time. I actually like keeping that as a side hustle. But I would like to continue a career in fashion and marketing with an even bigger company that serves a good cause. I love being at Goodwill but I’ll see what I can do out there.
Lalaine: What is up and coming for Fashion Gabbs?
Gabi: I will be going to New York Fashion Week in September. I’m going to be staying with one of my buddies who’s a photographer and then I meeting with some girlfriends up there who also be attending some of the shows with me and then we’re going to try to take some styling photos together and network while we’re up there. I’m hoping I can get more inspirations when I am up there walking the streets in Manhattan. I am also getting a few more gigs here and there to help people with styling. People have been reaching out to me, asking me to help them style their new line. This is something I have been wanting to work on more this year so I put the blogging on the side in order for me to work more on my portfolio. It’s been such an emotional roller coaster to find a career that best suited me and vice versa but it was all worth it.