The COVID-19 pandemic has made a lot of people contemplate on their views on fashion. Prior to the global health crisis, most fashion retailers big and small were all about fast-paced consumption. The pressure to release new collections at a monthly rate has become the norm for most brands. But with the coronavirus keeping everyone at home in self-isolation and curbing customer wants, shopping has come to mean buying only what’s essential.
We’re not saying it’s wrong to want a glittery platform heel or the latest It bag in the time of COVID-19 (I’m still guilty of that), but it does make you question the value of each purchase. Meaning, if you’re going to spend on a non-essential, it has to be worthwhile—sustainable at least and somewhat an investment piece. Or it simply has to mean something to you.
Which is why, when we heard about Tropik Beatnik’s special capsule collection, it struck the perfect balance between style and substance.
Preview spoke with Tropik Beatnik founder and designer Carla Cruz about creating stylish accessories with a far-reaching purpose. “With Sibol, we hope to not only empower our community [of women], but also to give everyone hope for better things to come,” Carla shares, “We are hopeful, and we believe that despite the situation that we’re facing, fashion can, in some magical way, help us in finding our way back.” Every piece in the Sibol capsule collection will benefit the women who have helped create these beautiful accessories. 80% of the proceeds will be donated to a Gawad Kalinga community at Sitio Pijo in Quezon City, and the mothers who’ll be receiving financial assistance are stay-at-home moms with no regular income. And during this community quarantine, we all know that having work is as good as gold.
Read on to discover more about this beautiful and heartfelt collection in this insightful interview with Carla, and find out how your love for fashion can help save lives.
What urged you to make a capsule collection specifically for the purpose of giving back to the community?
"Although it’s been a difficult few weeks, and a confusing time for many in the local fashion industry, we knew that we needed to do something to continue providing for our partner mothers, especially during these trying times, where most of them have become the sole breadwinners of their own households.
"With this in mind, we decided to come up with this special collection as a way to help out our makers, who we’ve been working with closely over the past year. They’ve been instrumental to the humble success of our brand, and we feel it’s our responsibility to take care of them and provide them and their families with whatever security we can offer during these times."
Can you talk more about the community benefitting from this capsule collection?
"They are a small community of stay-at-home moms at GK Sitio Pajo in Quezon City that we were able to tap via Gawad Kalinga early last year. We have worked with them since. We are hoping that with this capsule collection, we’d somehow be able to provide them with a source of steady livelihood to help tide them over until this situation is resolved."
What inspired the collection? Can you talk about the design?
"This collection is called SIBOL, which means to bloom, or to grow, which we can also attribute to new beginnings."
The Araw earring in Bahaghari, P780, TROPIK BEATNIK, INSTAGRAM @tropikbeatnik
Sibol Flower Fringe earring in Amihan, P550, TROPIK BEATNIK
Sibol Flower Fringe earring in Liwayway, P550, TROPIK BEATNIK
"It’ll be a collection filled with color and texture, where we combined our signature clay pieces with brass, retasos from our design collaborators (Anthill Fabric Gallery and Coral Swimwear), and reimagined these into new, as well as familiar silhouettes that we wish will inspire HOPE—hope for better and brighter days where we can begin again, make more thoughtful choices."
Yakap Link earring, P850, TROPIK BEATNIK
"With what we’re experiencing now, a global pandemic that’s forcing us to re-examine the way we live and the way we do things, we feel like it’s only natural to want to change, to make better choices, and just to be more thoughtful in the way we live.
"With Sibol, we hope to not only empower our community, but also to give everyone hope for better things to come. We are hopeful and believe that, despite the situation that we’re facing, fashion, in some magical way, can help us in finding our way back.
"The unexplainable light that it inspires in people is something that we hope we can rekindle after this is all over, allowing everyone once again to see the beauty in things and to simply celebrate being alive."
How has the current situation changed the way your business functions? How is it like for a small fashion business during this time?
"With the enhanced community quarantine, it’s been a challenge for us in so many ways.
"We’ve had to make some adjustments when it comes to production, but we still consider ourselves lucky that we are able to operate remotely and are making the best out of the situation, much like I’m sure other businesses have been doing."
Sibol flower drop earrings in Diwang, P550, TROPIK BEATNIK
"I honestly think that this industry we belong to, the fashion industry, can in no way compare to other businesses that provide essentials like food and medicine, among others. So it’s been quite confusing for us, trying to figure out how to continue with business as usual during these times with the thought of selling 'unnecessary' products will seem superficial, and just plain impractical.
"On the other hand, despite wanting to be sensitive to the current situation—with our frontliners risking their lives for us out there every single day—we are still, at the end of the day, a small business, and we must continue to operate to survive for the sake of our team.
"So right now, the struggle is in trying to find that balance between sustaining the business while still remaining sensitive to what’s going on. We are trying to make the most out of the situation and hope we’ll be able to sustain this until things get better."
Why is it important for everyone to donate and help during this time?
"I think now, more than ever, we should all help in any way we can. It doesn’t have to be a grand donation; you can start with those around you—your local sari-sari store, your favorite fruit vendor, the manong guard at your 7-Eleven, the possibilities are endless. There are so many ways to help without having to leave home being posted on social media and it’s a great opportunity for all of us to get involved.
"Also, although this current situation is a difficult time for many businesses out there, this cannot be compared to the front liners who risk their lives every day for everyone.
"This said, It’s been particularly challenging to sell during a time like this for us in the fashion industry. So if you must purchase something (not just fashion), I encourage you to choose LOCAL. It’s a difficult time for many businesses out there, and we need you all more than ever to help us get through these uncertain times.
"We are hopeful and sure that we can all get through this together, by mutually supporting each other and helping in any way you can, big or small."