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The future of Filipino fashion is green

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Jun 14, 2022 3:30 pm

I wish the Filipino did not have to be resilient. To be resilient means to “spring back.” Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have so many setbacks instead?

Yet this strength shapes the wearable culture that takes us further into the future. Living with a pandemic birthed small and medium businesses out of necessity and pivoted existing ones into a mindful new direction. We tapped into our resourcefulness and to each other. Creatives went inward, reclaimed our vernacular aesthetics, and made them even more beautiful.

We’ll see more ternos with jeans. We will wear basahan weaves, sandos, and dasters outside of the house – but not as we used to know them. We’re smartening up with investment pieces that we can rewear over and over and then pass on to the next generation–or resell with a mini-heartbreak. Or buy it preloved.

Fast fashion may be cheaper and more accessible than ever, but the stylish ones know that if you’re going to look like everyone else in them, maybe it’s not so fashionable. Consider this a forecast, as well as a manifestation and a wish that the Filipino will choose vintage, local, recycled, and reworked in a world that’s getting hotter and hotter because they’re cooler than ever.

Scraps 

Did you know that the textured and versatile fabric used in these photos is Bakong? It’s an aquatic plant, considered an obstruction by the residents at Laguna de Cagayan. In collaboration with Filipino fashion brand Bayo, Bea Valdes designed a complete outfit of convertible pieces: a bulbous jacket that transforms into a tote bag, a sleeveless top that also turns into a handbag, and cargo pants that convert into bermuda shorts, all handcrafted with Philippine cotton blend fabric created in partnership with a community of weavers in Bulacan and DOST-PTRI.

(Email i[email protected]. if you can supply or process the raw materials, or if you'd like to use it for your designs.)

The dreamy sand-meets-sea-and-sky tie-dyes by Himaya are from vegetable scraps that founder Mariton Villanueva collected from market vendors and foraged plants from her neighborhood, which she then treats into damaged rolls of textiles sourced from clothing factories and upcycles them into wraparound pieces that look just as artful when worn or when displayed as tapestry in your home.

Recycled style beyond clothing

It’s time to choose local and recycled in our homes; with designs as beautiful as these, it’s the easy choice. A new favorite is the luxuriously soft towels by Flowe (ph.shopflowe.com) made from 85-percent recycled polyester recycled and 15-percent nylon. This materiality means it absorbs moisture and dries off in minutes, it’s lightweight, and can be fashioned into textures that fit modern needs. The brand has designed a non-slip, moisture activated grip for its Multi-Purpose Towels that's perfect for workouts while being sand-repellent with a generous length for lounging. 

Halohalo (halohalostore.ph), the lifestyle brand that began with making recycled banig a hip essential for a new generation expands its sunshine-ready repertoire with pastel-hued loungers and umbrellas in their signature banig.

Elevating everyday objects

Contrary to what one American Vogue article has claimed about the basahan, the repurposing of these woven fabric scraps–from doormats to all-around reusable rags – into beautiful things is not pioneered by a white woman. Rags2Riches (r2r.ph), for one, has been turning them into vibrantly-hued statement bags since 2007 and their latest collection is summer-ready. 

Another favorite take is proudly handmade in Marikina by footwear and lifestyle brand Jos (shop online or set an appointment for their Makati showroom at jos-mundo.com). Their Bayong slide’s hand-braided upper is multi-colored leather with a suede wrapped footbed. The unique grains on the custom heel are all natural with some varnish; it’s made of Mango wood.

‘Preloved’ will get more love

First sparked by the Marie Kondo decluttering trend, resale will get bigger. (Have you seen those insane Halohalo Trabaho tote markups on Carousell?!) According to management consultant firm McKinsey, “the resale luxury market, already sizeable (estimated at $25–30 billion in 2020), is surging: industry watchers predict an annual growth rate of 10–15 percent over the next decade.” 

Photographer and ukay fan Shaira Luna’s one-day-only Closet Sale with creatives like Rabbithole Creatives, makeup artist Xeng Zulueta, and actress Dimples Romana was a massive success, with 519 people shopping everything from vintage Alaia, hard-to-find print magazines, and even new and unopened beauty products.

Rework makes the dream work

There are too many clothes in the world and more young brands are making them new again. My favorite is vintage store It’s Vintage’s upcycled sister brand Atomic, reworking its archives of pop culture tees and jeans for the hottest butterfly tops, baguette bags, and corsets. 

Even the big brands are paying attention to the fashion industry’s need for sustainability: sportswear giant Nike with Lyn Alumno, Nylon Manila’s fashion and beauty editor and stylist to stars like Nadine Lustre, Rik Rasos of Proudrace, and Russell Villafuerte of Strong Village hosted Nike’s first upcycling workshop to breathe new life to old Nikes that would otherwise be discarded into edgy streetwear.

Pambahay is now pang-alis

The West says athleisure; we say pambaha. They’re cute, comfortable, and well-made that they deserve to be worn out. The ubiquitous stripes we see on waterproof tarps on the streets are turned into patterns on designer Carl Jan Cruz’s specially designed fine jersey pique fabric and on some of the country’s best dressed when they dine out, attend gallery openings, or do their grocery shopping.

More of a dress girl? Dasters have become a go-to for effortless dressing; chances are they’re paired with slides, and that they are by Owa Sylvia, a.k.a. Sylvia Borja, the couturier and beloved Instagram figure whose months-long waitlists are a lesson on delayed gratification–but they prove to be worth the wait with their cocktail dress-worthy fit and details.