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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines Part 12: Significant Design Changes in 1960’s and 1970’s

With the momentum in popularity of the Barong Tagalog building in the 1960’s and 1970’s from increasing numbers of public figures wearing them, barongs underwent significant changes very quickly. More people wanting to wear barongs in the Philippines meant more demographics and differences in taste to cater to.

With dramatic changes in the world during these tumultuous decades, changes would eventually find their way onto the Barong Tagalog. The 60’s and 70’s saw a lot of experimentation with different looks. Taking cues from European and American fashion, as has happened during colonial times, designers and wearers in the Philippines took many liberties with the Barong Tagalog to update it with the fashion sensibilities of the time.

Gone were the long and roomy Barong Tagalog of previous years. Wearers opted for a closer fit and a more tailored look. So barongs became shorter and slimmer. A narrow fit meant less extra room in the barong for movement and a more difficult task of putting it on and taking it off with a traditional half open button down design. The full button down Barong Tagalog became a popular choice for many for its ease of use and more western, shirt-like look. Covered front button plackets were also very much in style and widely used. The coming years of this era will usher in much more experimentation and artistic freedom in the design of the Barong Tagalog.

Medical student Joel Canlas and spiritual counselor Demetrio Villaran stand in their shorter, slimmer cut barongs

Medical student Joel Canlas and spiritual counselor Demetrio Villaran stand in their shorter, slimmer cut barongs. Their barongs also feature full button down designs with a covered button placket.

Major Rey Silvestre looks around the Philippine Army Museum in his shorter, slimmer cut, full button down Barong Tagalog with covered buttons

Major Rey Silvestre looks around the Philippine Army Museum in his shorter, slimmer cut, full button down Barong Tagalog with covered buttons.

 Civic leader Frankie Evaristo walks with Jaime Cardinal Sin. Evaristo wears a shorter slim cut Barong Tagalog

Civic leader Frankie Evaristo walks with Jaime Cardinal Sin. Evaristo wears a shorter slim cut Barong Tagalog with a full open front and covered button placket.

Assembylman Bert Romulo speaks with his daughter at home. He wears a Barong Tagalog made of piña and jusi.

Assembylman Bert Romulo speaks with his daughter at home. He wears a Barong Tagalog made of piña and jusi. It is shorter and closer fitting than barongs of previous years. Though his barong has a traditional half open button down design, it has a more contemporary shortened and rounded collar.

All photos from Visitacion R. de la Torre’s 1986 book The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines’ National Wear and are likely from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s.