TBoli weaver. Image lifted from http://www.textileartscouncil.org

Filipino fashion designers and entrepreneurs urged the public to patronize and support the country’s weaving and textile industry in this time of pandemic.

“Weaving Resilience: Reviving Indigenous Textiles and Crafts” was a recently concluded webinar series that gathered local designers and brand owners Lenora Luisa Cabili of Filip+Inna; Marga Nograles of Kaayo Modern Mindanao; Nina Corpuz-Rodriguez of Nina Inabel; Looie Lobregat of Linea Etnika; Susan Marie Liao of Designs by Marie; Jor-el Espina; and Elsie Standen of Allena. 

The online conversation, hosted by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, highlighted collaborative efforts in utilizing local textiles from the rural weavers and promoted appreciation of indigenous weaving textiles from various regions in the Philippines.

In the webinar, Legarda said efforts should be done to revive the production of Piña Seda, a handwoven fabric made of silk and pineapple fibers, and other traditional textiles.

The lawmaker said strengthening of the local tropical fabrics industry is attuned to the advocacy of promoting sustainable development and preserving the rich heritage of the Philippines. “With our efforts, we are able to help the local tropical fabric industry, we are able to help our rural artisans, and we are able to provide rural livelihoods.”

Cabili shared the beginnings and products of Filip+Inna, and how they collaborated with different artisans around the country to banner their excellent craftsmanship. 

“One of the beauties of the piña is that it is taken from its purest form. The way it is extracted, stripped, dried, knotted, and weaved is an amazing process that I don’t see in other textiles around the world,” said Cabili.

The story behind Kaayo Modern Mindanao and its partnership with the Indigenous Weaving Communities of Mindanao was discussed by Nograles.

“People asked me what ‘Kaayo’ is. I would summarize it into three points: First, ‘Kaayo’ means kindness or goodness in Bisaya. We wanted everyone to be inspired by kindness. Next, ‘Kaayo’ is a curated collection of different Mindanaoan stories. So basically, we are a platform to present the treasures of my hometown (Davao). And lastly, Kaayo Modern Mindanao is about coming together of every one, of all Mindanaoans. Our brand celebrates collaboration and empowering other people to come together to bring the brand to life,” said Nograles.

Corpuz-Rodriguez shared how Nina Inabel helped the local weavers, dressmakers, and farmers in Ilocos, and how the brand promoted the many uses of the Inabel fabric.

“As an Ilocana, I’m familiar with the fabric “Inabel.” It is used all over the household – from curtains to blankets, and even uniforms and medals. But we showed everyone that the traditional fabric, “Inabel,” ay hindi lang ginagamit sa bahay, kundi pang fashion din,” said Corpuz-Rodriguez.

Lobregat discussed how she was inspired by their local cultural heritage to create products that make weaves mainstream and celebrate the stories of the hands and parts that make them – through Linea Etnika.

“Linea Etnika really embraces slow fashion. Things are purposely made to last. I know that Linea Etnika is a small company but I’d like to believe that we have a very big heart and strong conviction to make this happen. We go for zero waste, and we upcycled and repurposed some of our products,” said Lobregat.

Espina’s talk centered on the background of his brand and his fascination with the colorful handwoven fabrics of Iloilo, Aklan, and Antique.

“The designers and entrepreneurs are here to revive and give respect to these fabrics. We are free to create new things, we are free to do and work on different colors and patterns, but we have to respect the crafts of our ancestors so that our tradition will be preserved and continue,” said Espina.

The Inspiration behind Designs by Marie was shared by Liao. The brand came from her family’s love for arts, culture, and heritage that made them create a sustainable brand, especially in helping the artisans of Antique.

“It is a sustainable brand that has a tribute to our beloved province of Antique. We merge tradition with fashion. We aim to empower more Antiqueño artisans and continuously support their livelihood,” said Liao.

Standen shared Allena’s advocacy of protecting and preserving the past tradition which should be enjoyed and passed on as a legacy to the future generations.

“As a brand with responsibility, we know that consumers nowadays are getting smarter, so being “traceable” means we can answer their questions such “who made our clothes?,” “what is it made of?,” and “is it relevant that it can be passed on to their daughters?”. Traceability, for us, has different ingredients: the people, the raw materials, and the research and development that comes with it,” said Standen.

As a textile art, culture, and heritage advocate, Legarda showed her extensive collection of local garments and Filipino knitwear made by the invited guest designers, in support of the rural artisans, weavers, and livelihoods.

“While this is about fashion, we talked about rural livelihoods, Philippine innovation and design. What we discussed is connecting businesses and enterprises in the cities to the mountains and the farmlands, and the need to connect artisans, livelihoods and weavers to the market,” Legarda concluded.