Source : https://www.forbes.com
The textile and garment industry in the Philippines is almost non existent.
A more brutal way of putting it would be that it is dead. It saw its demise decades ago when producers invaded the local market with low cost cottons and fabrics. Today, the supply chain model for local fashion retail brands will show a disturbing dependency on imported fabrics. It costs less to source out fabrics, retail businesses will defend. It is also more economical to mass produce items in major industrial countries like China, India and Vietnam.
Fast fashion products are largely characterized by the fact that they are produced in major industrial cities. These power players are able to produce in larger quantities. They can also offer prices that are far more competitive compared to smaller businesses. Little wonder they have become staples of the supply chain in the fashion world. But here are the hard facts. Since this massive revolution in garments and textiles, the fashion industry has become the second biggest pollutant in the world (only second to food).It has also killed small to medium-size enterprises that honor craft in creating fashion items.
In the Philippines, the tradition of weaving has slowly faded through time.The younger generations, realizing that there is little income from hand looming fabrics, are opting to seek work and opportunities in other professions. Location in far flung areas and limited resources also make it difficult for weavers to engage in profitable trade. For this reason, most of these artisans are forced to seek opportunity doing other tasks.
The Great Women Project aims to give women of the local industries sustainable livelihood through collaborations, professionalized marketing and standardization of processes. To prepare these small enterprises for global, larger scale trade, the project sets in place world standards from use of threads down to measurements of fabrics. Seeing as most of these artisans are located in remote areas, they also help to make these products more accessible. Through Great Women, producers and their clients are also able to more seamlessly conduct business so that there is professional accountability and streamlining of processes.
Collaborations and partnerships are at the heart of their operations. Chief Visionary Officer Jeannie Javelosa explains, “We partner with private sectors, companies, organizations. As development program, we are supported by fund from the Canadian government.Just recently they partnered with French luxury maison Christian Loubotin in the creation of Manilacaba bags. It was a feat that brought the work of women weavers to the international stage. This milestone also “closed the loop from the bottom of the pyramid to the global luxury market.”
“Our aim is to create sustainable livelihoods by introducing innovations,” shares Jeannie. From threads, loom, patterns, colorways and even design relevance, Great Women works closely with women in the weaving industry to help bring them into the new millennium. This year, the program partnered with luxury hotel, Makati Shangri-La in mounting a month-long celebration of women called, TAPESTRY Celebrating the Great In Women. “After Louboutin, the next collaboration had to be of the same caliber. It has to be the Shang,” emphasizes Jeannie.
The event, which kicked off last March 5, features an exhibit of Great Women textiles. This unique showcase, configured to reflect ethos of circular economy and inclusivity, highlights the new colors and materials developed by women weavers from all over the country. Other events taking place at the Makati Shangri La until March 31 include Filipino Afternoon Tea at the hotel’s lobby lounge. Sustainable ingredients from women producers of ECHO Store will be the focus of the special tea set up inspired by local flavors. A special cocktail, aptly called Great Women, will also be on offer at the hotel’s Sage Bar. This refreshing concoction was made using calamansi liqueur from Destileria Limtuatco, rhum, lime juice, elderflower syrup, almond syrup and fresh lime juice.
A trunk show by month’s end will also take place at the hotel’s function room. This three-day selling event will serve as a platform for producers and buyers to come together in a design and cultural exchange. There will be fashion and lifestyle items on the selling floor. Designers who have collaborated with the platform will also be showcasing their creations using textiles from Great Women.
This inspired event will culminate in the Great Women Fashion on March 30 at the Lobby of Makati Shangri-La. Since the 90s, this airy space has been a venue for fashion spectacles and this year sees a redux of this golden age. A contemporary re imagining of Great Women textiles like hablon, habi and other weaves from the Bagobo Tagabawa and Maranoa will take centerstage during this much-anticipated spectacle. Pieces in the collection were intended to carve out the rightful place of local weaves in modern fashion. But more than that, they are design statements that remind us that there is power in uplifting each other and working together for a common goal. “It is a statement that says we can make the change,” ends Jeannie.