The bayong is no longer just confined to your trip to the wet market or for packing your pasalubong from a trip to your hometown province. This homegrown brand is shining the spotlight on this woven gem and just in time for summer, too! We got in touch with Bayongciaga’s Javier Villaruel to know more about the brand.
What were the first reactions you got when you started marketing the bayong?
“I just posted on my FB account and a lot of friends were very receptive, or excited if I must say. I received a lot of orders on the first post alone. It was crazy. Blew me away honestly.”
The name has Ilonggo roots (Bayongciaga—bayong + sya ‘ga—literally translates to “that bag, my love”) but surely there’s also the obvious play on the brand name Balenciaga. When you hear the brand Bayongciaga, what do you want people to associate it with?
“I just want the market to connect to Pinoy creativity, whether you are a Filipino or not. This is the real soul of the brand. It’s a very basic but fun Pinoy bag. It’s not even of course my original; this Pinoy bag has been around for ages. It’s time the bayong takes its rightful place back in mainstream fashion. My team and I are super happy that so many Filipinos and even foreigners have taken interest in our bayong. My partner and I even brought some to Paris on our trip last year and you would be surprised how the French and other Europeans who saw the bags bought and loved it.”
Was it a conscious effort to create a brand around something local?
“I am from Negros Occidental. I grew up seeing a lot of beautiful local products at the Negros Showroom for export. But I never thought I would be somehow paving the way to popularize something very Pinoy, which was a dream for me. Bayongciaga just happened by accident and I am very grateful.”
Why do you think championing local and handmade products from the Philippines is important?
“This goes without saying we have to love to our own. We have so many talented and expertly skilled artisans all over the country and the most talented Pinoy designers for clothes, bags, and furniture. Just check out the amazing creations of Zarah Juan, Kitkat Cuzi, and Jorel Espina, good friends of mine who I look up to. I also recently met fellow Ilonggo Patis Tesoro and she’s a genius. Their creations are all world class. And what’s great is the livelihood that is being supported.”
What are your bestsellers?
“I get this a lot from customers and I always say all Bayongciaga SKUs are bestsellers and I am not kidding. I always run out of stocks. Each size and color has its own purpose that fulfills a certain need and lifestyle of my clients. The Carry All (large size) is for weekend bags, and some even use it for the gym. The Go (medium vertical) finds its way to the office because it is the perfect size to carry the laptop. The Classic (regular) is for everyday use. Women style it on their own, by adding twillies, pompoms, etc. That’s why I just sell it plain, as customers get inspired so much to style it [their way]. The Handy (small) is for baon, kikay stuff, and even for little girls.”
Are there any products in development that your customers should be looking out for in the future?
“The weavers are very creative and we work with them to explore a lot of sizes and shapes. Some even just surprise us by sending us new creations of theirs that we can market. We also now have the Candy Backpack, hampers (large and junior sizes), toy bins, and pouches. So many artists also paint on Bayongciaga bags and their creations are amazing. We have also received a lot of proposals for collaborations to use other materials but we are still so busy filling up current orders; but we will get to it.”
Who is the Bayongciaga customer?
“She is the confident woman who is tired of the usual bags she has been using for years. She now just wants to have fun!”
What’s their lifestyle like?
“She is on-the-go, balancing personal errands, work, and social life. That’s why she has a Bayongciaga for every role that she has to fulfill every day.”
Who’s a style icon you can imagine rocking a Bayongciaga bag? Your dream client?
“The Queen of the Universe Pia Wurtzbach, no doubt. I can create a PIA Bayongciaga!” [Laughs.]
Where do you see Bayongciaga in the next 5 years?
“Rocking the streets of major cities of the world. We already have some resellers in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and getting a lot more inquiries as word continue to get around. A lot of Pinoys would also bring back to other countries as pasalubong especially in Europe and the Middle East. Long live Pinoy Creativity. Weave only just begun.”