Indigenous materials for sustainable fashion: British expert elevates Filipino design

Top Quote 52nd Manila F.A.M.E. International on October 18-21. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) September 04, 2010 - Independent British fashion consultant Maureen Tomaney was resource speaker and facilitator to the recently concluded Fashion Definition Workshop held last August 2-6 at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City, reported the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

    Tomaney is a Research Fellow in Ethical Issues and Fair Trade at Central Saint Martins in London, where she is involved in the creative side of the fashion industry as well as the advancement of sustainability in fashion and textiles.

    "Fashion is not only about aesthetics, but most certainly also embracing the content.The designer's role [becomes] more complex, being part of the effort of greening the fashion world," said Tomaney, discussing an emerging sensibility for environmentally-sustainable fashion pieces before an audience of trailblazing fashion talents like Mich Dulce, JC Buendia, Jojie Lloren, Patrice Diaz, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, and Cristina "Twinkle" Ferraren.

    "Slow fashion will develop from being a diffuse buzzword to signifying quality in production and product; [for example], in working to turn artisan crafts into fashion - and into profit for the locals - and to producing long lasting clothing," she added.

    The workshop, organized by CITEM in partnership with the British Council of the Philippines and the Garments and Textile Industry Development Office (GTIDO), is part of a three-month Merchandise Design Consultancy Program (MDCP) geared towards the further improvement of existing fashion exports to meet current global market demands, particularly pieces crafted from indigenous fibers and materials.

    19 noted local fashion designers and fiber manufacturers participated in the event.

    Developing a Philippine brand that is globally competitive was key as Tomaney discussed local, regional, and international fashion markets; forecasting trends in color, product and fabric; translating local skills into a sustainable market; and export facilitation and international value chain.

    The fashion prototypes developed will be featured at the upcoming FASHIONation zone of the CITEM-led 52nd Manila F.A.M.E. International on October 18-21. To be staged at three venues, namely: the World Trade Center, the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Manila F.A.M.E. is the country's premier trade event for design-driven pieces.

    "Through workshops like this we equip our fashion designers in showcasing our designs and fibers to the world," said Thelma Dumpit-Murillo, Deputy Executive Director of CITEM and Project Director for GTIDO-related projects within the agency. "With the continued support and cooperation between the public and private sectors, we hope our local talents will be given even more of the venues and opportunities that they need in order to grow and spread their wings."

    In 2005, total export earnings from local fiber manufacturers reached US$ 90.51 million, signifying rising demand for indigenous Philippine fibers like abaca (Manila hemp), piņa (pineapple), and banana for their various uses and applications.

    "[From the workshop] I learned processes of incorporating aesthetics with profit margins as well as the value chain. I was reminded by a realization that other designers are not competitors but are rather allies to make the world beautiful," shared Curitthy Manzanero, representative from Shelmed Cottage Treasures, a local abaca exporter for over 30 years.

    "I learned more about exporting and its technicalities," said Mich Dulce. "We're not as strong individually as when we are together as one. Government has an active role."

    A multi-awarded fashion designer, Dulce recently won the International Young Creative Entrepreneur (IYCE) award for fashion at the 2010 London Fashion Week, one of the most prestigious fashion trade events in the world.

    "Before, I undervalued exporting. But now I realized that the Philippines is a brand and seeing Made in the Philippines is such a big consolation... Working together is important," agreed JC Buendia, fashion designer to such high-profile personalities as Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and former president and current congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

    Buendia is also the current president of the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines (FDCP).

    To find out more about the indigenous fibers and materials you can find at Manila F.A.M.E., visit

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