Two classes of skin matter in Fino and Alexa Cheng’s vocabulary—first is local leather, second is native beauty. Both inspired puso, a rice delicacy from Cebu wrapped in woven coconut leaves that became a key collection concept. What was initially a soft croc embossed leather wristlet for Spring/Summer 2016 transformed into streamlined apparel that recognizes the intimacy of culture with the body.
We talk to Fino's Ina Chua about the collab that appears in this month's fashion editorial Shift Switch.
How are you? Could you introduce us to the role you played in accomplishing this collaboration?
We're great! We're very much excited for this collaboration and for what's in store for the year ahead.
From Alexa's vision, it was our challenge to bring her sketch to life by using both traditional and contemporary leather production techniques, while at the same time, manipulating the leather to be as malleable as fabric.
Tell us about the story, materials, and inspiration behind the collaboration. Who were the people involved and what was the work dynamic like?
Each artisanal hand-loomed and hand-woven piece fuses the luxury of leather with the uniqueness of distinctly Filipino elements, inspired by the local culture. The Pusô Wristlet is particularly inspired by the of "hanging rice" puso delicacy popularly known in Cebu.
The Puso delicacy that inspired Fino.
For our Spring/Summer 2016 collection, which we featured at the Manila Fashion Festival last October, we collaborated with Luis Espiritu. It's interesting that after a couple of brunches, we were able to create, touch and see the ideas and sketches come to life.
The brand's collection at last year's Manila Fashion Festival.
Our group's dynamic was exhilarating and inspiring. As we built on each other's ideas and suggestions, we injected fun in between with random spurts of chitchat, light teasing, and cups of coffee in between.
"Our goal was to make it fit like a glove, hugging the model's curves like it was second skin."
The designer Alexa drew her inspiration from was the Pusô Wristlet, made of a soft croc embossed leather with a semi-matte semi-glossy finish. We have yet to release this type of leather out in stores. We met Alexa over a lighthearted chika-filled lunch at Rockwell. It was actually Andre Chang who introduced us to her. A few days after, she sent a Viber (or Whatsapp) photo of her sketch. Our whole team immediately fell in love and gave the go signal. It was as simple as that.
Coming from accessories, what challenges did you face while being involved in designing and producing something beyond your usual line?
We are currently in the development/production stage of this collaboration. Possible challenges we foresee is the manipulation of the leather to act like fabric.
Another big challenge will be perfecting the fit of the garment, since we've never done such an endeavor before. Because of its design, a sloppy fit will easily be scrutinized by a discerning eye. Our goal is to make it fit like a glove, hugging the model's curves like a second skin (pun intended).
Read the rest of the feature in our May issue here.
Main image photographed by Koji Arboleda