While thousands of Melburnians would spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for the most coveted annual best dressed competition at the Melbourne Cup, Filipino nurse Sharlon Garbo did not spend a cent for his winning. His investment: recycling his own clothes and his own creativity. “I did not spend any amount in my outfit. I used all the clothes I have in my wardrobe which I mixed and matched,” he told The Philippine Times in an interview.
The Northern Territory resident made use of the current Covid-19 pandemic by wearing a face shield and added the twist of the current fun term “plantito” (a play with words in the Philippines combining love for “plant” by a Tito” meaning uncle in Filipino, a hobby of those who spend time in the garden during this pandemic).
The no-budget outfit makes him the winner of the 2020 Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Men’s Racewear” last 5 November 2020, the first winner from the Northern Territory where he currently resides.
The Philippine Times interviewed Sherlon to find out how he organised his budget outfit, and how he and his family and friends reacted when he was announced winner on national TV.
He arrived Australia in 2015 on a student visa to study nursing.
His total prizes: Lexus sports luxury car, a trip for two for the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival with 4 nights of accommodation at Sofitel Melbourne, and $8000 worth of gift certificates courtesy of Myer, TCL TV, and Antler luggage.
1. How do you feel about winning?
It is surreal! I still can’t believe it. I felt so happy and proud. I never had the chance before of winning any major prize or title in competitions back home in the Philippines. Winning in ‘Myer Fashions on Your Front Lawn’ in Men’s racewear is an event in my life that I will never forget. I did not go to Melbourne to join the competition. All entrants who joined the competition all over Australia per State or Territory had their photos done in their home.
Unlike the annual ‘Myer Fashions on the Field’ where candidates compete on the field during Melbourne Cup, this year, due to covid-19 pandemic, the competition was retitled to ‘Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn’.
For the first time, the competition was open to all residents all over Australia where entrants can submit their racewear photos online. It was also virtually judged by six panel of judges with a range of diverse backgrounds and experiences in fields of fashion, media and design.
2. How did you prepare and organise your outfit and submission?
Upon seeing and reading the advertisement on Facebook and with limited number of days before the submissions of photo entries for the Northern Territory, I sourced entirely my outfit using my old clothes in my wardrobe. I have a wardrobe of old clothes which I mixed and matched to come up with my racewear outfit.
The inspiration behind my racewear outfit is fashion in the time of covid19 pandemic and the love for indoor plants as a budding ‘plantito’. I chose our veranda with some of our indoor plants and became my backdrop for my entry photos. I also made the face shield myself. I used an old 3D eyeglasses and I cut the lower half of the frames and removed the films. With an old box of perfume gift set, I cut out the acetate cover and glued this on each side of the frame to serve as my face shield.
Regarding the photos, I actually just asked one of my housemates to take photos of me using an iphone as we do not have proper cameras or DSLR. Luckily, it all went well!
3. Did you expect to win? What was the reaction of your friends and family members (here and back home)?
To be honest, with limited knowledge of racewear fashion and limited budget for my outfit, plus seeing all other men’s finalists who have luxury/high end outfits and accessories — I really did not expect to win. My friends here in Australia are very supportive of me. We did hope for the best and to win, but we are also prepared for the worst. During the announcement of the winner, I was so nervous and upon hearing ‘the winner is Sherlon Garbo, from the Northern Territory’ I was so shock, such a surreal feeling!
Upon hearing my name as the winner on National TV, all my friends here in Australia were all jumping out of excitement and joy! And my family in the Philippines cannot believe this happened as well, they are so proud of me. From all the finalists, I believe, anyone of them deserves to be the winner but I guess at that day, on that special day – it was my lucky day! 🙂
4. Give us a short background about yourself.
I was born in Mabalacat City, Pampanga and my parents are both Filipinos. I am the youngest among 4 siblings. I have two older sisters and one brother. My father worked for us when my mom died of cervical cancer when I was 12 years old. My second oldest sister worked at Singapore after she graduated college and she started to help me and my brother in our education.
I completed my nursing degree at Holy Angel University in Angeles City and became a registerd nurse in the Philippines in 2012. I always wanted to study abroad, so by 2015 I pursued the Bachelor of Nursing program in Australia and obtained my license to practice Nursing in 2018.
While I am waiting for a nursing job, I work for two jobs, 7 days a week. During my video interview I told them that I actually own a sewing machine that I bought in Australia. I told them my story that when I was around the age of 10, back in the Philippines, my mom had cancer and back then with limited resources to buy stuff like bedsheets, linens, curtains and pillow cases, I wanted to have my own sewing machine so I could create and sew things for my mom.
With my love for fabrics and textures, I bought my own sewing machine (and also as a fulfilment to have my own sewing machine which I dedicate to my late mom), learned basic sewing on my own and also doing some minor alterations.
I am not a professional model. When I was in College I joined University pageants which started when I joined Mr. Nursing at my university in Angeles City, Pampanga. My main goal in joining the pageant at that time was to have a free nursing review package and some price money. I did win as Mr College of Nursing 2nd runner up. After that, I met a lot of photographers, designers and stylists who invited me to do collab, which they call xdeals or unpaid collab.
During my college years, I also tried some go-sees in fashion week, modelling contests in Pampanga and applied in some modelling agencies in the Philippines but no luck. I am a registered nurse now here in Australia.
At this stage, I can say that fashion and photo shoots are still my hobby, but, anything can happen in the future.
For further information and reference about the competition:
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