Cromwell Valley is a brand the Edward Joiner team was first introduced to on Alexander Walker's Fashion Collective Podcast. We were intrigued by this 18-year-old Bienn Bagalso talking about his aspirations for his creative venture. We decided to reach out to him to hear his story first-hand. Here are the result of the questions we asked him.
- Introduce yourself: What is your name? Where are you from? And what is your background?
Hey! My name is Bienn Bagalso and I’m an 18 y/o designer from the Philippines. I moved to the states at around the age of 3 and I’m currently based in Baltimore, MD. I recently graduated high school as an engineering student and started my own brand “Cromwell Valley” shortly after. Pursuing design was ultimately the result of being born into a family deeply rooted in art. Paete, my home town, is known as the carving capital of the Philippines.
- What is the origin story of Cromwell Valley? Where does the name come from? When and where did the brand start?
Brand names and what you wore meant everything to me growing up. If you weren’t wearing retros or any “hip” Nike sneaker at the time, you’d get cooked at the lunch table. That kind of attraction towards clothes led me to pursue fashion and start something for myself. During high school, I was blessed with the opportunity to start sewing as a supplement for art classes. I taught myself how to sew but the cut and sew garments I created weren’t enough. I grew tired of tailoring as well and sought after my own label.
Cromwell Valley was originally a “love letter” though. It was dedicated to this girl I used to date. While we don’t talk anymore, I don’t think I’d ever feel embarrassed to admit to that truth. It was a love letter in my own regard- an attempt to express feelings that couldn’t be verbally communicated. In terms of what my initial designs composed of and who they were for, she was at the center of it all. The name “Cromwell Valley” comes from a park where we frequently visited. And when you loved someone that much, it only made sense to create something as big.
- What are three things, above all else, you want people to know about your brand?
- Cromwell Valley is also an effort to continue my Family’s legacy. Paete, Laguna is known for its skilled artisans and woodworkers. Wooden statues would be carved depicting biblical figures and scenes. Unfortunately, the craft itself is dying in newer generations due to a lack of interest. However, I plan on immortalizing this profession and its intimate relationship with the Catholic Church- in my own way.
- No blanks from other companies will ever be used and no shortcuts will be made. Craftsmanship is something I will always value, and it’s something you innately pick up in my household. I wouldn’t offer something I wouldn’t wear myself.
- Cromwell Valley will always embody love; whether it's a love for yourself or for another.
- What are the details about Cromwell Valley’s most recent project/collection? What was the inspiration for this project/collection?
My most recent collection was my first, and quite honestly I never planned for it to follow some sort of theme. I was simply testing out the waters and created whatever I wanted. I sampled several designs and unfortunately had to pick between the two pieces I liked the most (due to a lack of proper budgeting haha). At the time, I was researching about traditional Japanese garments, more specifically kimonos and noragis. The culture, tradition, and how they were constructed was something that aligned with my own values regarding clothing. I designed two noragi jackets, however the one I’m more ecstatic about is the “Noragi Ver. 2”. Traditionally, the noragi was worn by the working class, and I wanted to turn that concept on its head. This jacket was placed on the opposite end of the spectrum, and was reimagined into something it “shouldn’t” be. A lux version of something that was traditionally meant for farmers.
- Who/what are some influences for Cromwell Valley?
-and oddly enough, Lego Bionicles
- What are some things that make Cromwell Valley Special?
Cromwell Valley has and always will be used as a creative vessel. It’s something that isn’t monetarily driven. I’ll continue working on it regardless of what my bank account looks like. Referencing my previous comment, this brand will always embody love.
- What are five adjectives you would use to describe Cromwell Valley?
Authentic, Polished, Explorative, Traditional, Ambitious
- What can we expect from Cromwell Valley in the future?
I plan on working with other visionaries in my area. I have friends who are insanely talented and are as hungry as I am. Whenever I’m with them our conversations always consist of our next plans, achievements, and us just explaining our recent projects. I’d be a fool if I ate alone.
In terms of future collections, expanding Cromwell Valley is an endeavor I’ll always chase. I’m currently working with a fellow creative, Mareisha Banga, in order to offer designs catered to a more feminine audience. I hope Cromwell Valley breaks boundaries outside of the fashion world one day- unifying creatives alike.
Cromwell Valley Website: https://www.cromwellvalley.com/
Cromwell Valley Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cromwellvalley/