In fashion, we are always anticipating the next trend. At MUNI Market 2017, we dared to envision that future at the Meetup on Reimagining Local Fashion — a future that is driven by a responsible way of doing things and supported by conscious consumption.
Filipino fashion takes pride in our heritage.
“The Philippines has more than 110 ethno-linguistic groups and we don’t know nothing.” Charisse Aquino-Tugade, founder of The Manila Collectible Co., exclaims a shameful truth. It is ironic, how we often claim our fashion sense as a form of self-expression, and yet it seldom reflects our identity as Filipinos.
This is changing. Our rich culture and heritage is no longer isolated in far-flung mountains or remote provinces. Merchants from MUNI Market like Risque Designs, PIOPIO and Akaba, are already creating this movement in the Filipino fashion industry.
“Filipino fashion should be inspired and well-researched. It tells the stories of our people, our culture, our lives.” — Tal de Guzman, founder and designer of Risque Designs.
They create distinctive products by incorporating traditional crafts like indigenous weaves. They pay homage to our traditions by coming up with beautiful designs that draw consumers in, pique interest, and open doors to the stories of the Filipino people.
As more people learn to appreciate the beauty and intricacies of these weaves, interest is also sparked in the newer generations to learn the craft and keep the tradition alive within their own communities. With this movement, our traditions transcend displays on museums or paragraphs from textbooks that we have to memorize. We are creating value for our identity, on who we are as a people, making our traditions relevant.
Charisse also stresses on cultural appropriation and reminds us of our responsibility as creators, designers, and consumers to be respectful of the culture and the community. Unlike typical fabrics, these weaves are not just intersecting threads, soaked in dyes. Every weave, jewelry or token is rooted in our tradition — a story, a rite or a ritual. The indigenous people are not mere suppliers, they are partners. Through CulturAid, Charisse helps empower local artisans and teaches them to see the beauty in and value of their craft.
Filipino fashion is ethically made.
Who made your clothes? Hannah Thiesen, from Fashion Revolution and A Beautiful Refuge, challenged us to look at the labels on our shirts. Where was your shirt made?
Bags by AKABA made with Philippine handwoven textiles
Rarely would we be wearing a shirt that was also made in the Philippines, or produced in just one country at all. In the fashion industry, production moves from one country to the next, chasing the cheapest rates and the most lenient regulations in every step. Before a shirt is finished and sold, it will have traveled thousands of miles. This is how business is done in fast fashion. Because the back-end is hidden away, it is difficult to demand accountability from our favorite brands.
We envision Filipino fashion that is transparent, where employees are paid living wages and have decent working conditions, where processes do not pollute our waterways or dehydrate seas.
Related read: Fast Fashion: Shedding Light on The Dark Side of Fashion
Filipino fashion is sustainable.
Fashion is the second biggest polluting industry in the world, next to oil.  It is almost too difficult to make sense of. How can fashion be causing so much damage to the environment?
Ms. Celia Elumba, Director of the Philippine Textile Research Institute, paints a hopeful future for us as she announces breakthrough research from her agency. She advocates for a close-loop, circular economy with the use of vegetable fibers for textile. This means, at the end of its life, your shirt will not end up in a landfill, instead it is biodegradable and goes back to the soil as fertilizer.
In our mindful reimagining of local fashion, we think about how fashion adds value into our lives and what kind of impact it makes in the world. As consumers, we have the opportunity to support local, ethical and sustainable, and make these changes happen.
MUNI Meetup on Reimagining Local Fashion with Tal de Guzman of Risque Designs, Charisse Aquino-Tugade of Manila Collectible Co., Hannah Theisen of Fashion Revolution, and Celia Elumba of PTRI, moderated by Kylie Misa of WVN Home Textiles
We aim to continue this and other conversations with more meetups on conscious, responsible consumption and mindful living. Follow us on Facebook, subscribe to our events and mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter with updates on new content and upcoming events.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mina Yu is an inquisitor, writer and entrepreneur who takes environmental degradation as a personal and professional challenge. She inherited her mom’s sewing subcontracting company and is hustling to grow it into an ethical fashion label. When not preoccupied with this, she also explores minimalism, sustainable living, and the inner workings of her puppy’s brain.