How would you define your brand and who is it aimed at?
We are a concept brand showcasing woven textiles and artisan products from communities around the Philippines with a special spotlight on Mindanao. I’m from Zamboanga City and Sulu while Carol is from Cagayan de Oro City, so we wanted to bridge the gap between the communities and the global marketplace by way of our products, with respect for tradition and culture. We wanted to integrate Filipino textiles into everyday wear while giving foremost consideration towards tradition.
How did your collaborations with Filipino artisans start? And why do you collaborate mainly with artisans from South Mindanao?
For now because of financial limitations, we are not yet able to sustain an entire community. What we do though is we prioritize peace conflict areas and give these people a steady source of income by purchasing their products in a fair trade atmosphere. Two years ago we started with Yakan weaves from the communities in Basilan and the first collection received an overwhelming response.
We later moved on to using weaves and textiles from Sulu. We’ve explored using weaves that were not necessarily woven by artisans but represent the region’s deep Malay influence such as Batik fabric. This was because we saw how the textile markets in places like Jolo had stocks and stocks of textiles but were moving slowly because of its inaccessibility.
So for us, any way we can help the communities get more commerce is also a way to collaborate and help sustain them.
We focus on Southern Mindanao because my family is from there and the peace conflict areas had amazing products but was inaccessible so we wanted to help.
How important is helping to preserve local craftmanship?
Very if not the most important. Tradition and history are our bird’s eye access to the past, the reason why we are here. Between modernization and tradition we will lean towards tradition but the constant challenge for us is to marry both worlds without offending or erasing a tradition.
Can you tell us about your upcoming collection?
We are working on collection #2 for our website www.wearherman.com.
This will display another facet of the Pinoy lifestyle— easy living in a tropical country; we have loose dresses in shapeless silhouettes to accommodate most body types. We are also working on a few collaborations with some of our favorite stores and a few pop-ups are in the works.
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