Lovely summer and beach bags bring good vibes. What seems to be a mundane and practical item to some is also a vessel of creativity, craft, and I will go so far as to say, identity for others.
I love beach bags, especially those that are unique, fun, stylish, and proudly Philippine-made. Aside from being eye candy, these bags just make me “love local” more and savor summertime in our tropical country.
I have rounded up some of the standout summer bags into an amazing list.
Filip + Inna
Len Cabili, founder and creative director of Filip + Inna, is an inspiration and makes me feel proud to be Pinoy. She is spearheading a drive for us to be more patriotic with the moving slogan “Dama ko, lahi ko.”
Through her fashion, one discovers Filipino heritage via the weaving, embroidery, and beadwork done by indigenous groups throughout the country.
Her clothes are modern and yet steeped in tradition. Len’s Vizcarra x Filip + Inna is a collaboration with the legendary S.C. Vizcarra. It is a lovely, well-designed, quality bag that is oceanside-ready. The Vizcarra x Filip + Inna bag is available in small, medium, and large sizes.
Behind the bespoke and limited-edition bags by Maison Lourdes is Marilu Batchelor. Her designs are stylish, using snakeskin, leather and indigenous fabrics like Tinalak, Yakan, and Ifugao.
Her bags, which she has been making since 2004, are created in partnership with communities of artisans based in Quezon City and Marikina. Her canvas tote bags and beach bags are sleek and elegant. Each feature local hand-woven textile straps and detailing from Marawi, Ifugao and Kalinga.
The canvas beach bags are available through the brand’s Instagram account. Other bags are available at SM Kultura and House of Laurel.
Kaayo Modern Mindanao
Marga Nograles has been at the forefront of promoting fashion that showcases the beauty of the arts and crafts of the people and tribes of Mindanao in her Kaayo Modern Mindanao line.
The good news is she also creates summer and beach bags. “Our Kaayo totes are made from hand-woven mixed prints and come in different shapes and sizes — all highlighting our favorite hand-woven tinalak,” she says.
They also have these chic, see-through plastic bags that are easy to sanitize anytime and anywhere, which is in keeping with the world we live in today. Each Kaayo bag is unique, as not one has the exact, same mixed-print combination.
Accessory and bag designer Adante Leyesa was a Fashion & Design Council of the Philippines (FDCP) Design Contest Grand Winner in 2011. He had undergone mentorship under no less than Josie Natori through Manila Wear of CITEM for designers presented during Manila FAME. He has also presented in exhibitions and business missions abroad.
I love tassels, so what caught my eye was Adante’s Tisay bag. Another lovely item is his Mutya bag, which is adorned with floral embroidery and beads in mixed media. It comes with detachable straps for the hand and body to serve as your all-day bag from sunrise to sundown.
My favorite, though, is the fun Miss BB, which is a colorful bucket bag and a collab with Bidibidi.
Carl Jan Cruz Bags
A homegrown talent with international experience and recognition, fashion designer CJ Cruz continues with his distinctive touch in bags. His creations are fresh and contemporary and, in my view, perfect for all seasons. His products are made in the Philippines and sewn at his atelier in Taguig.
Made from soft and sturdy ribbed fabric, reversible and washable, CJ’s bag designs come in different shapes and sizes. The Kirig is a stand-alone mini-sling bag that can also work as a pouch or organizer for larger totes.
The Iannique is a versatile bag that you can use daily or at the beach. It is called a “no-fuss” bag but the design is so my type. The Placemat Bag, which was from a collection two years ago, made a comeback in a more refined form. Finally, there is the Gala, a shoulder bag that they claim is for the lakwatsera.
I could spend an entire day in Kultura. It is my go-to store when looking for exceptional Filipino items. This summer, Kultura brings a touch of the indigenous and the innovative, the exotic and the elegant to one’s wardrobe with local bags. Loving local has never been more stylish.
There are beautifully textured, unique handmade bags made from rattan, pandan, raffia, and wicker — perfect for fun in the sun and beyond.
The Kultura Bags collection is available at Kultura Stores. You can also shop at www.kulturafilipino.com. For delivery, call 0917-5174096 or 0967-6093407. You can also join their Viber community. Kultura ships here and abroad.
Exquisite finds at ArteFino
I always look forward to the ArteFino fairs because I get to discover amazing, Filipino-made creations by artisans and top-notch designers. A few exquisite finds for beach bags include the whimsical Pineapple Bag by Zarah Juan, inspired by the pineapple fields of Silang, Cavite. It is handcrafted by Cavite cane weavers, weavers of Camarines Sur and assembled by Bulacan artisans.
Another obvious choice is the super-cute Butanding Bag by Ash & Muff. This Butanding tote is the result of a collaboration between the Bulacan embroiderers and Marikina bag makers. It is crafted from PVC and locally woven fabrics from Ilocos.
Another summer-vibe find is the Sling Bag by Bidibidi. It is made of sawali-woven bangkuan grass, emblazoned by the iconic Caras De Frida, and hand-embroidered meticulously and with love by the Bidibidi women.
Each bag is a unique and one-of-a-kind art piece. Last but not least is the Cacao Bag by Halohalo, which is an elegant carry-all with a long, adjustable cross-body strap and handle straps for full flexibility. You can use it on beach trips and even to the office.