Local Fashions Pay Off For Southern Designers

By David South, Southern Innovator Magazine

Fashion earns big money around the world: The global clothing industry is estimated to be worth US $900 billion a year. For many decades, strong American brands have been the desired commodity for those looking to be cool and contemporary. People were willing to pay high premium prices to get the cache of American cool that the brands conveyed.

But the decline in popularity suffered by American brands in recent years has become a boost for local brands. And this is creating a whole new opportunity for canny Southern entrepreneurs. It is being called ‘fashionalism’ or fashion nationalism – a pop culture trend blending patriotism with fashion.

One of fashionalism’s pioneers is Italian-educated Filipino designer Rhett Eala. He is credited with coming up with the snappy name fashionalism, after launching his My Pilipinas clothing line. Its signature logo is the Philippine archipelago on collared shirts and cotton polo shirts. An experienced designer who has worked in Hong Kong and for a major department store, Eala joined Collezione C2 as creative director two years ago.

He started with just three styles sporting the map. But now he has expanded the design to cover almost his entire range of clothing.

“It’s a fun way to show your pride in being Filipino, without a lot of words. Filipinos have today become global citizens,” said Eala.

Eala’s design talent stretches to pop art paintings as well, with an art exhibit called My Pilipinas Series, 18 Filipino pop art paintings that transcend flag-waving notions of nationalism.

But Eala is no parochialist: he is very much inspired by global artists and trends. His work is a blend of foreign concepts and patriotic ideals. Common Filipino iconography gets the high-design treatment, as Eala draws inspiration from Damien Hirst, David Hockney and Andy Warhol. He tries to challenge his customers, taking the complicated and oblique Rorschach Test patterns, and blending them with other designs.

The fashionalist logoed clothing not only sells well domestically, but also amongst the large diaspora of Filipino expatriates around the world.

“Fashionalism has a very positive impact on our business,” said Joey Qua, the Managing Director of Collezione C2. “We’ve always wanted to highlight the ingenuity of Philippine artistry and what it feels like to be proud to be a Filipino.”

“More importantly, we want to make Filipinos proud to wear our brand here and abroad, since the Filipinos of today are more global in nature, we have so many Filipinos who are more exposed globally.”

“We want to make nationalism hip and relevant to today’s generation,” said Eala.

Supporters of fashionalism say it is about restoring pride in the country’s development and achievements, not in stirring up negative xenophobia and other negative aspects of nationalism.

Another group of Manila fashion designers, Team Manila and Analog Soul, are marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Filipino nationalist hero, Ninoy Aquino – who was assassinated at the airport after returning to the Philippines from his self-imposed exile in the United States on August 21, 1983. Their t-shirts include sayings like: “I am Ninoy.”

The clever designers have turned Aquino’s signature old-school eye glass frames into an iconic logo.

“Ever since our humble beginnings as a Design Studio in 2001, we’ve made it a point to celebrate the Philippines and the Filipino people in our designs,” said Team Manila’s chief operating officer, Nico Bacani. “It was only natural that when we established our clothing and apparel line in 2005, the messages would remain the same – positive messages about the country, the culture and the people, be it explicitly or through subtle means in design.”

Underground t-shirt designers had been selling yellow Ninoy t-shirts to the young and trendy urbanites. But it is the professional design flair that has taken the trend to the next level and created an industry in its own right, with the fashionalism branding spreading beyond clothes to coffee mugs and other everyday items.

“We started as a design studio working from our Macs (Macintosh Computers) at home,” said Bacani. “and when we did start selling merchandise, this would be done literally in our garage and obscure spaces throughout the apartment we were renting. We then participated in bazaars, until such time as we raised enough capital and loyal clientele to expand into a stand-alone store.

“So the obstacles we faced were more towards asset capitalization and recruiting people well-versed in the retail industry. We were, however, luckier than most, as the media would frequently feature our products, which was a big boost.”

And Bacani hopes for a big payoff for the Phillippines as a whole.

“We really wouldn’t say there’s anything negative about it, but we would say that it would be quite disappointing if it ended up just being that – wearing the clothes and not living the message. We would be quite pleased if Fashionalism were a trigger, a catalyst for something bigger, such as a more active participation in the development of the country as a whole. And we see that people starting to think and feel proud of being Filipino and representing the Filipino well, whether it be at the workplace here or abroad, or in everyday living around the world.”

As for other fashion designers thinking of going down the fashionalism path, Eala said: “My advice is being honest with your design. Try to design from your heart and your mind. Be inspired with what’s around you. Design for your environment and if you have a chance, travel to places that you haven’t been to. ”

More on Andy Warhol at Artsy here:

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: October 2008

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

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Innovation from the Global South

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions


A major study has documented a rising tide of scientific innovation coming from Asia’s fast-developing countries, especially India and China. Conducted over 18 months by UK-based think tank Demos, it challenges the conventional wisdom that scientific ideas come from the top universities and research laboratories of large companies based in Europe or the US. It found ideas emerging in unexpected places, flowing around the world conveyed by a mobile diaspora of knowledge workers from the South.

China has seen its spending on research and development jump by 20 percent each year since 1999. India is now producing 260,000 engineers a year and its number of engineering colleges is due to double to 1,000 by 2010. Research and development in India has grown by threefold over the past decade. There is now a global flow of research and development money to the new knowledge centres of Shanghai, Beijing, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The study found the greater political and economic emphasis being placed on science and technology was paying dividends. These emerging science powers are now investing heavily in research to become world leaders in information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology within the next ten to fifteen years. This is also producing a flood of scientific papers from China and India to the world’s prestigious scientific journals.

For India, its knowledge-based industries by the end of this year will be a US $57 billion export industry, accounting for 4 million jobs and 7 percent of Indian GDP. Interestingly, the study also found a new wave of change is underway. Where once it was mostly low-wage manufacturing and call centre jobs that were going to China and India, a new wave of research and development jobs is now moving there. Drawn in by technology clusters in Shanghai and Bangalore, “Microsoft began to realize we can’t find all the talented people in the US. Nowhere in this universe has a higher concentration of IQ power (than India),” said Harry Shun, head of Microsoft’s research in Asia.


  • The Atlas of Ideas is an 18-month study of science and innovation in China, India and South Korea, with a special focus on new opportunities for collaboration with Europe. It is a comprehensive account of the rising tide of Asian innovation. It pinpoints where Asian innovation is coming from and explains where it’s headed. Special reports on China, India and Korea, introducing innovation policy and trends in these countries can be downloaded for free here.
  • Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India
  • Innovation China: A website linking all stories on the fast-breaking world of Chinese innovation.

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Computing in Africa is Set to Get a Big Boost

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions


The image of Africa as a technological laggard is set to be seriously challenged as a number of developments converge in 2007. Alongside the booming African mobile phone market – itself now getting global attention for innovation – the African computer scene will soon have both the software and hardware that acknowledge the continent’s unique needs while being affordable. Further challenging stereotypes, the continent’s burgeoning and dynamic open source software movement is the subject of a new film by a Danish filmmaker, and the African-made Ubuntu, Linux-based operating system now has a new user manual to help it attract new adherents.

African technological innovation rarely makes headlines in the West. But a Danish filmmaker is changing these perceptions with his film showing the dynamism and enthusiasm behind the open source software movement in Africa. The yet-untitled film, directed by David Madie, is from Eighty Days Productions and is due for release in the spring of 2007. It follows a young computer entrepreneur, Wire Lunghabo James, from Uganda’s Linux Solutions in Africa, who has been instrumental in building the Web’s presence in the country and in East Africa.

“This film will show the characters fighting for what they believe in. This happens to be Open Source, which I think is an important agenda,” director Madie told Tactical Technology Collective (, a website “demystifying technology for non-profits.”

Unlike off-the-shelf software, open source software has many advantages. It is free, and no licence fee is required, so as many copies as necessary can be made. It is fully customisable, so local languages and cultural conditions can be taken into consideration. It is a universal language (the most popular is Linux) and thus it is easier to understand how a specific application works. For developing countries, it has the advantage of empowering local programmers and dymistifying computer programming, removing it from the domain of private companies and large government agencies. In 2005 the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) urged African countries to embrace open source software to encourage the growth of indigenous software development.

“I think he (James) is also a role model in the sense that he combines doing a business, with doing social work. To him these things are not opposites: these are things that can perfectly work well together. You can do business in a social manner,” Madie said.

The Ubuntu software programme is a complete, free operating system that emphasizes community, support, and ease of use while refusing to compromise on speed, power, and flexibility. Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning humanity to others, and its software version is described as Linux for human beings – designed for everyone from computer novices to experts. Ubuntu is the most in-demand Linux system in Africa, and the official guide is aimed at NGOs, home users or small businesses.

One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC)

In another development, the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) has announced the release for general sale of its durable bright green and yellow laptops ready loaded with Linux-based operating systems. Customers in wealthy countries will have to buy two laptops, with the second going to a developing country. Five million will be delivered to the developing world over the summer of 2007. The eventual aim is to sell the machine to developing countries for US $100, but the current cost of the machine is about US $150. The OLPC laptop’s software has been designed to work specifically in an educational context. It has built-in wireless networking and video conferencing so that groups of children can work together. The OLPC project is working with the search engine Google, who will act as “the glue to bind all these kids together”. Google will also help the children publish their work on the internet.

The One Laptop Per Child project ( has struck its first deal with Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame to provide every school pupil with a laptop computer within the next five years. The laptops and all the support costs will be covered by OLPC.


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China Looking to Lead on Robot Innovation

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions


Since the 1950s, science fiction has been telling the world we will soon be living with robots. While robots have emerged, they have been mostly kept to heavy industry, where machines can perform dangerous, hot and unpleasant repetitive tasks to a high standard.

But China is pioneering the move to mainstream robots in more public spheres. And the country is promising big changes in the coming decade.

Robots, strange as it may seem, can play a key role in development and fighting poverty.

If used intelligently, the rise of robots and robotics – itself a consequence of huge technological advances in information technology, the Internet, nanotechnology,artificial intelligence, and mobile communications – can free workers from boring, difficult and dangerous jobs. This can ramp up the provision of public goods like cleaning services in urban areas, or remove the need to do back-breaking farming work.

Robotics also offers a new field of high-tech employment for countries in the global South who are producing far more educated engineering and science students than they can currently employ. These students can help build the new robot economy.

China is considered to be in the early stages of competing with robot pioneers such as Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the United States. And China still has a low penetration of industrial robots per population. In 2011 estimates placed the number of industrial robots in China at 52,290 (International Federation of Robotics) (

In the years ahead, China confronts a double demographic problem. It has the world’s largest elderly population, who will need care, and it also has a shrinking number of young people available to work as a result of the country’s one-child policy (

Robots can help solve these problems.

China started its robotics research in the 1970s and ramped it up from 1985. It has already made significant progress manufacturing domestic robots for cleaning. The Xiamen Lilin Electronics Co., Ltd. (http://cnlilin.en.made-inchina.

com/) makes vacuum cleaners that are small round robots smart enough to return to their recharging stations when low on power. Another firm, Jetta Company (, has built and sells the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaning and floor-washing robots (

For the heavy duty stuff, there is Ningbo’s Dukemen Robot, sold with the slogan “man, technology, robot”. The company manufactures arm-like robots for heavy lifting and lifting in dangerous or uncomfortable environments (

A company called Quick specializes in making soldering equipment for manufacturing electronic components and sells robots that can do this with high accuracy and speed (

Other robotic advances in China include a robot dolphin that swims through the water measuring its quality.

There are also robots in development to do housework and help people who need assistance in the home like the elderly and the disabled. These robots can monitor a person’s physical condition and provide psychological counselling and search for, and deliver, requested items. One example is called UNISROBO, and is based on the Japanese robot PaPeRo robot (

Still other robots can perform surgical procedures or even play sport, like Zhejiang University’s ping pong-playing robot (

Even more ambitiously, China is developing robots to send to the moon.

The push to introduce robots into the workplace and wider society is receiving considerable attention in China.

The Taiwan-based technology company Foxconn – well-known for assembling products for the American company Apple, maker of the iPad and iPhone -has pledged to deploy a million robots in its Chinese factories in the coming years to improve efficiency.

Some are forecasting that if China starts building robots on the scale it has pledged, then the world’s population of manufacturing robots will grow tenfold in 10 years.

China is also broaching one of the trickiest aspects of robotics – getting robots to interact with humans.

The tricky bit in robotics is getting interaction with human beings right and to avoid the experience being intimidating or frightening. One sector that is already ahead in experimenting with this aspect of robots is the restaurant business. One robot being used in restaurants sits on a tricycle trolley laden with drinks. It cycles from table to table in endless rotation allowing customers to choose drinks when they like.

The first robot restaurant started a trial run in 2010 in Jinan (, the capital of Shandong Province. The hot pot restaurant uses six robots to help with the service. The restaurant has also given itself the perfect name for this new approach: Continental Robot Experience Pavilion. Adorned with robot posters, the restaurant is 500 square metres in size and can seat 100 diners.

Diners at the Continental Robot Experience Pavilion are greeted by two ‘female’ “beauty robot receptionists” dressed in uniforms. Inside, the six robot waiters serve the customers. There are two to deliver drinks and two to serve the small tables and two to serve the big tables.

The robot comes to the table and takes the customers’ orders for food dishes and drinks. The robots, designed with sensors to stop them moving when they sense something or someone in front of them, are able to handle 21 tables and deal with the 100 customers at a single sitting.

The robots have proven so effective, the restaurant’s staff can stay focused on administration and providing assistance. The cooking is still done by human beings.

This trial run is designed to test the concept and the novelty of having robots attracting customers, the restaurant’s manager told the People’s Daily Online.

The plan is to increase the number of robots to 40 and also to have robots do cleaning and other tasks.

“They have a better service attitude than humans,” said Li Xiaomei, 35, who was visiting the restaurant for the first time. “Humans can be temperamental or impatient, but they don’t (the robots) feel tired, they just keep working and moving round and round the restaurant all night,” Li said to China Daily.


1) The Robot Report: It boasts compiling more than 1,400 robotics-related links and is about “Tracking the business of robotics”. Website:

2) The Robot Shop: Bills itself as “The world’s leading source for professional robot technology” and sells online all the parts, kits, toys, tools and equipment to get any enthusiast or small and medium enterprise working with robotics quickly. Website:

3) Robot App Store: Sells ‘apps’ or software applications to expand the capabilities of robots. It also operates as a store for application developers to sell their robot apps to others. Also has information and resources on how to get started making robot apps and making money from making robot apps. Website:

4) Roboearth: Funded by the European Union, RoboEarth is an online, open source network where robots can communicate with each other and share information and “learn from each other about their behaviour and their environment. Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction. Website:

5) Robotland: A blog writing about the “visions, ideas, innovations, awards, trends and reports from leading robotics research and development places in the world”. Website:

6) China Hi-Tech Fair: Running from 16-21 November 2012, the Fair is a great way to see the latest developments in robotics in China. Website:

7) Singularity Hub: A cornucopia of robotic resources and news on “science, technology and the future of mankind”. Website:

Cited in Studies in Intelligence, Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges, Vol. 59, No.1 (Extracts, March 2015).

Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 59, No.1 (Unclassified articles from March 2015).
Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges by Jenny R. Holzer, PhD, and Franklin L. Moses, PhD in Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015).
Autonomous Systems in the Intelligence Community: Many Possibilities and Challenges by Jenny R. Holzer, PhD, and Franklin L. Moses, PhD in Studies in Intelligence Vol 59, No. 1 (Extracts, March 2015).
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