Expect to see the finest in Philippine-made textile products as the annual market fair of HABI, The Philippine Textile Council returns on its 8th year

Dubbed as "Woven Voyages: 8th Likhang Habi Textile Fair 2018", the three-day event pays tribute to the country’s traditional weavers who hail from communities supported by HABI. Their unique skills in weaving fabrics were given tremendous exposure during the previous fairs and this expertise has since  become a viable source of income for them. The fair will take place at the Activity Area of the Glorietta Mall in Ayala Center, Makati City on October 12 to 14, 2018.

Organised by HABI,The Philippine Textile Council–a nonprofit organization–the fair is designed to showcase the artistry of the country’s indigenous weavers. HABI co-founder Maribel Ongpin revealed that more than 80 exhibitors will take part in the event, making it HABI’s biggest trade fair to date.  And for the first time, the show will include textile exhibitors from the ASEAN region, namely, the weaving communities of Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

HABI is placing special emphasis on products made of natural fabrics and will include the colorful merchandise of established brands that use the fabrics made by the weavers. To entice shoppers are the fashionable bags adorned with the resplendent cloth made by the Yakans of Basilan. Not to be outdone are the hand-woven blankets, covers, and napkins from the Ilocos region. Toys and novelty items made by local craftsmen should also be popular for early Christmas shoppers.

Among the exhibitors are established brands and manufacturers such as Rurungan sa Tubod Foundation, Interweave, Yakang Yaka, Manila Collectible, Casa Mercedes, Filip+Inna, Gifts & Graces Foundation, Good Luck, Humans, La Herminia Piña, Liwayway Handicraft, Creative Definitions, Kalinga Weaving,  Ayala Foundation, Inc., and items by noted Filipina artist and designer Ditta Sandico.

HABI advocates the uplifting of the country’s indigenous weavers from places as diverse as Kalinga, Ifugao, Mindoro, and Basilan. It has done so by convincing them to use natural fabrics. It was explained to them how using natural fabrics in lieu of synthetic ones, will improve quality, increase the value of their works, lower their carbon footprint, and enhance the sustainability of their livelihood.

 

Tatler Asia
Above Yakan weaver

The fair is held each year to provide a major venue for the local weavers to present their wares. It offers them the opportunity to tap Metro Manila’s consumer market by giving them free space in the show. It also allows them to deal directly with wholesale buyers, foreign buyers, and stores. “This way, the middlemen, who had been buying the products from them at lower rates and selling them at much higher prices, are eliminated," said Ms. Ongpin.

The trade show also opens other lucrative opportunities for the weavers, some of whom have been contracted to supply materials to prominent fashion designers, bag manufacturers, and gift and novelty shops. As a result, more indigenous people are given livelihoods. Many members of the younger generation, often eager to seek employment in the big cities, are thus enticed to stay and engage in the old tradition of weaving. Ultimately, a cultural heritage is saved from extinction and the economies of these communities are given a tremendous boost.

With the fair, HABI is also capturing a market composed of fashion-conscious female shoppers, especially the younger women.  “We also want to attract more fashion designers,” says Ms. Adelaida Lim, the Baguio-based businesswoman and an active member of HABI.  “We want them to discover how these fabrics can be used for contemporary fashion, and not just for traditional costumes.”

 

The participation of the weavers from the ASEAN communities may also open new doors for their local counterparts, said Ms. Ongpin. “The weavers from each country can learn from each other and they may have the opportunity to tap each other’s markets,” she said.

On the other hand, the fair isn’t just about selling a product, it’s also about educating the public on the use of earth-friendly raw materials, sustainability, and preserving old traditions. During the three-day event, HABI is presenting various programs that will impart the organization’s advocacies in  an entertaining way. A fashion show highlighting the woven fabrics promise to impress shoppers and mall goers. There will also be an exhibit featuring the textile art of the Filipina-French artist Olivia d’Aboville, and the works of the winners of the Lourdes Montinola Weaving Competition. Other highlights are workshops and lectures on sustainability, and a tribal food lounge.

Tatler Asia
Above Philippine cotton threads