In the spirit of craftsmanship and giving back, Kultura and the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines (FDCP) held an exhibit and bazaar last October 11 for the benefit of Crafts for a Cause Foundation. Presenting world class artistry, they partnered with Filipino designers and local communities in creating innovative products that will not only encapsulate the creativity and talent of the designers but also improve the livelihood of urban communities in the metro.
One of the artists tapped for the project is shoe designer Maco Custodio who collaborated with Gkonomics. They delved into bag weaving with the mother-weavers of the said community. Below, he recounts his experience in highlighting Filipino craftsmanship through the help of local folks, and how this project has also deepened his views as a designer.
How did this collaboration come about?
"I don’t intend to speak on behalf of the FDCP, but I think FDCP ascribes to the belief that design has the agency to change person’s look and, most importantly, transform a person’s life. Accordingly, we recruited the help of SM and Kultura Filipino, a retail outlet which showcases local artistry and craftsmanship, to create a collection that stays faithful to the concepts of our designers, while impacting long-term change in our partner communities."
Where did the idea for the collection come from?
"I had a collection named BeWEAVED (believed). It highlighted the skills of the community, while allowing me to put my own spin to it. I used the up-cycled foil packs as threads that connect everything together, which conveyed the message that with what is considered as rubbish, you can create something pleasing to the eyes. It also symbolizes that there is a brighter side to the problem we are all facing. Every dark rain cloud has a silver lining. I also made bags that have distressed black coat finishes. This indicates the marks of age and wear and the anxieties the community endures before, but are now overcome with opportunities and possibilities. I made its handles in the shape of a square to symbolize tradition, honesty, and loyalty. By combining these elements together, it attracts customers that are nonconventional, nonconforming, and not adhering to accepted standards in taste, fashion and style."
So what was your approach for this collaboration? Could you describe your creative process?
"We had 90 days to work on this project. By virtue, the weavers played a great role in molding its extrinsic and intrinsic values. On the surface, you see a finished product that responds to your human senses. Yet, the soul of this product is derivative of the careful love and undivided attention of these weavers. In order for me to understand the intrinsic value of this product, I interviewed some of the mother-weavers. They told me of their hardships, and how the GK community has really helped their families through tough times. Thus, for this collaboration, my creative process began with understanding the product through the mother-weavers. I had to empathize with their stories, their passions, and their struggles. This led me to the idea that every dark rain cloud has a silver lining. It has hope. Some of the bags have a black distressed facade to symbolize their (the mother-weaver’s) past."
Can you tell us about the materials you used for this collection?
"The materials are made from doy packs or tetra foil packs that are print rejects from the factories and are to be thrown away. The GK women produce durable weaved baskets; each woman makes an average of three large bags per working day. After the shell has been produced, I then attach the leather together with the foil packs via saddlestitch."
Why do you think now is a good time to take on a collaboration like this?
"In my experience, collaboration is always a good way to learn new things. Interestingly enough, more collaborations in the landscape of Philippine fashion point toward globalization in this industry. Having groups focus on their expertise—the things that they do best–it’s always important in creating an efficient and reliable outcome."
What were some challenges that came from creating a line that is lower price level?
"Coming from a bespoke market, pricing things accurately is the key. It’s where a product’s success is hinged on. This has been a struggle for most designers now. Selling your ideas and properly pricing them within the context of other markets are the most challenging parts. Then there are labor fees wherein you have to consider the role you play if you want to make a change in someone's life."
Was there a specific girl you had in mind when you were designing the collection?
"I feel that the future of fashion both serves male and female market. The collection is for individuals who love to wear items that has less carbon footprint, and also loves the idea of empowering women through social enterprise."
Who are you targeting for this collection?
"The main purpose of the collection is to reach a wider range market, to make the collection available to everyone. Some pieces of the collection Beweaved Spring 2017 will be released mid-November at SM Kultura."
What's the message that you want to put out there through this collection?
"GK (Gawad Kalinga) means "give care,” and when you do, it means you give your time, effort, and support. As a result, they become hopeful and more productive. In this case, our support encouraged our weavers to weave with love. They no longer saw it as unfulfilling work. They were inspired by their craft. Their weaving awakened the greatness in themselves. The message I want people to get out from this collection is that it is when you have nothing, that’s when your creativity shines. Hence, you can make the impossible, possible. "
Other artists tapped for the project includes Amina Aranaz, Joel Escober, Gerry Sunga, Dong Omaga Diaz, Malou Romero, Happy Andrada, Joyce Makitalo, and Joey Enriquez. The exhibit and bazaar will run until the December 30 at the 2nd level of SM Makati and its proceeds will help improve and sustain livelihood projects within local communities like Gawad Kalinga.
Photos from @macocustodio and @kulturafilipino on Instagram.