Published: Philstar.com, August 26, 2018
In my 25 years working in Philippine fashion, there was never a time (as far as I can remember) when local artisans received the resounding reception they are enjoying now.
The industry is home to celebrated designers, models, photographers and, more recently, stylists, who have had their much-deserved moments under the spotlight. Whether by achievement, influence or the sheer relevance of their work, these individuals have contributed to the ever-growing local style landscape.
Though artisanal work has been present in the market, mostly via Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions’ (CITEM’s) Manila FAME, it was only in the past two to three years that the clamor and surge for it happened.
On the global radar, artisan masterpieces have begun to trend. With this, the attention to handmade work is magnified, standards are raised and the beauty of art and embroidery is redefined as modern luxury. This gave birth to countless names and brands that are known today.
Local and international trade shows and exhibitions have become the setting for the new, now and next in fashion. From clothing to accessories, bags and shoes — everything made by hand is generally of premium value. The proliferation of these pieces goes beyond trend and is a result of forward design, high commercial viability, patriotism and social and environmental awareness.
In the Philippines, one of the leading platforms of this brilliant showcase of Filipino artistry is ArteFino. Now on its second year, this community of visionaries and believers — spearheaded by Maritess Pineda, Mita Rufino, Cedie Vargas, Susie Quiros and Mel Francisco — share stories of tradition and innovation through outstanding craftsmanship.
This notable group supports and promotes the various artisan communities. It has also helped create and cultivate the current awareness in modern Filipino culture. It has tapped into the consciousness of the market by celebrating local products and making them relevant in today’s fashion and style arena. Furthermore, the demand for artisanal pieces has transcended from being a trend into mainstream, which opens a gateway of opportunities for everyone.
Jumpsuit by Linea Etnika, romper by Kaayo, shoes by Zara Juan, earrings by Fara Abu and bags by Island Girl.
From Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at 8 Rockwell, Rockwell Center, Makati City, ArteFino will present over a hundred local artisan brands that showcase the best of the best made by hand. They are divided into several categories, including fashion, home, fashion accessories, “Finds” section, which is an area for up-and-coming brands and some of ArteFino favorites; and The Barracks, a well-curated selection of pieces/brands for the modern Filipino man.
It’s time to celebrate our colors — the colors of our nation that prides in culture and tradition. Let us patronize what we can be proud of. It is our duty as citizens to be proud of who we are and what we have in our country.
With so many avenues and channels out there, we always have to look at the bigger picture. We collectively need to take the leap to bring our artisans, products, hopes and dreams to the future.
In a landscape divided by thousands of islands, hundreds of voices and subcultures, the vision is to be unified under one flag as we set to make our masterpieces made by hand universal.