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This Local Brand Is Reviving the Art of Banig Weaves

This should change the way you see the local banig.
This Local Brand Is Reviving the Art of Banig Weaves This should change the way you see the local banig.

Traditional weaves and locally-made textiles are back in the spotlight with the help and support of budding designers and independent groups. With this collective effort, we're brimming with optimism that age-old traditions and art forms won't cease to exist. They need to be seen more than just as pasalubong and memorabilia, which is what Lara strives for.

"Lara is a visionary brand transforming indigenous materials of Samar into contemporary fashion and lifestyle creations. It is the brainchild of Samar Governor Ann Tan along with Spark Samar, the tourism arm of the province," Lara's brand manager Yen Pomida-Nacario explains.

IMAGE Courtesy of Lara

According to her, "Lara (which means 'to weave' in Waray-waray dialect) puts Samar banig (woven tikog grass) into the limelight with our main product lines—bags, footwear, accessories, and home décor. The brand is a collaborative passion project between Spark Samar, the artisan banig weavers of Basey, Samar, and a pool of creative consultants."

Below, she gives us an insider scoop on what we can expect from this brand that's slated to launch this March 10.

1. How would you describe your design aesthetic and philosophy?

"Lara is a reinvention of the traditional art of banig weaving, a century-old craft that is the lifeblood of one of the oldest towns of Samar—the Municipality of Basey. The weavers draw inspiration from the changing times, while remaining grounded on the old ways. They have mastered how to tweak and tinker with weaving and patterns, transforming the banig into modern fashion and lifestyle pieces that pay homage to the evolving scenes of their day-to-day lives. No two pieces are exactly the same because each pattern has a different story to tell. Through the delicate weaving and intricate patterns, the weavers are able to translate their devotion to this art form.

IMAGE Courtesy of Lara

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"As a creative platform, Lara posed as a challenge to the weavers of Basey to modernize the banig as a means to rebuild their communities after Typhoon Yolanda. Because of the support and encouragement given by Gov. Tan and Spark Samar, the weavers have developed a deeper sense of confidence design-wise. They are now twice as eager to innovate and push boundaries, transforming traditional banig products into contemporary pieces like bags, accessories, shoes, and even home décor."

IMAGE Courtesy of Lara

2. Do you have a signature design or key element evident through your collections? 

"Our pieces are made from indigenous materials of Samar like the tikog grass, a jointless grass sturdier than pandan or buri, which is dried and woven into different shapes and patterns."

IMAGE Courtesy of Lara

3. Is there a specific person you have in mind when you create your collections? What makes a Lara muse?

"She is young and young at heart, with an eye for contemporary fashion and a deep appreciation for traditional elements. The Lara muse is her own boheme chic with a heart that beats for local flair."

4. What should we expect from the brand in the future?

"Lara is a creative platform to produce design forward pieces that will elevate and modernize local products of Samar, provide long-term sustainable livelihood to various communities, promote socio-cultural and environmental awareness among the people, and integrate a contemporary handle on tourism through fashion and style. That being said, Spark Samar is 100% set to make Lara global. 

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