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Through her local brand Amarie, 'fashionpreneur' Anne Marie Saguil promotes traditional embroidery while providing jobs and protecting the environment

For someone who has a team of about 40 artisans under her tutelage, working hard to keep the business afloat is not an easy task. But for the fashion designer and entrepreneur Anne Marie Saguil, this challenge keeps her going.

As a young girl, she would have her mother’s dressmaker make clothes for her, clothes she designed herself. This innate interest in fashion drove her to complete a degree in textiles and clothing at the University of California, Davis and in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. After graduation, Saguil worked in the New York fashion scene for years until she returned home to establish her own fashion brand, Mosaic. Later, she started to appreciate the craftsmanship of local embroidery, giving birth to her brand, Amarie.

See also: Amina Aranaz-Alunan of Aranáz Releases 'Raw Start' Collection Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

I am fascinated by: the embroidery of the barong Tagalog. After ten years of a successful retail business, I decided I wanted to explore a different avenue of fashion, to design in a more thoughtful and slow-paced manner. When I conceptualised Amarie, I decided to put emphasis on the beautiful embroidery craft that Filipino artisans offer, which I felt was not celebrated enough at the time.

I felt it was important to our identity and culture that the craft of Filipino embroidery be more visible in our everyday lives. It was already the norm for men in the office barong Tagalog, but women preferred more modern silhouettes, fabrics and colours. I thought the most natural thing to do was to create a barong-inspired dress in a fresher and more vibrant colour palette, using denim for a modern yet functional casual edge. That barong-inspired dress in various iterations has since become a sought-after iconic staple for the Amarie brand.

My team consists of: around 40 embroiderers. We started working together since the inception of Amarie and this working relationship has slowly developed and thrived through the years. I try to remain constantly aware of their needs and livelihood, which also becomes a priority in my design and production process. Most importantly, at the core of this relationship is mutual respect, admiration and trust. It is a partnership in which we are each committed to putting out beautiful products, and at the same time ensuring that we all thrive in our personal lives.

Inspiration comes to me in: many forms and ways. I am inspired instinctively by my daily life in a tropical country. The Philippines is a tropical island, but my life is in Metro Manila, which also has a cosmopolitan vibe, and thus my clothing design is a reflection of both. My pieces are perfectly worn on the beach and resort getaways but can also be worn for casual days in the city or entertaining at home.

Related: Tesoro, Dizon, and Aranaz And Their Lasting Impact On The Philippine Fashion Industry

I prefer to work with: natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. I also use local hand-loomed weaves and recently I developed a tie-dye collection. I also work with abaca and t’nalak for my bag collection.

My collections are built around: the ease and comfort of staying home and weekend trips to open air spaces. This stems from the effects of the pandemic and an awakened sense of protecting our environment. Amarie pieces are meant to be worn for years to come, which hopefully also inspires everyone to be more mindful of the consumption of the purchases we make and the effect this has on the environment.

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