Friday, September 17, 2021

Habi pushes culture and heritage in fashion

TO PROMOTE the Davao’s exceptional artistry and cultural heritage than a fashion accessories competition of sophisticated artisan’s products was among the highlights during the Kadayawan week.

Thus is the concept behind Habi Kadayawan, a fashion accessories design contest that seeks to integrate the patterns and features of the 11 tribes in Davao City.

A total of 13 professional local fashion designers, students, and hobbyists with innate passion for arts and crafts made it to the final list of the first ever Habi Kadayawan last August 17 at SM Lanang Premier.

Each designer took the challenge in transforming local products, pulling it off into a more sophisticated, trendy and high-end fashion style with youthful vibe a Dabawenyo couldn't even think of is possible. All the designs, flawlessly carried by models, certainly fit the taste of the modern market.

Products ranged from bags, beaded and embroidered designs, high-fashion shoes with Mindanaoan hand-woven textile, fine jewelry and many more. For years, focus has been on designing clothes with ethnic accents. Nothing was done about accessories, which by itself is a whole industry that has a global market potential much higher than apparels and haute couture.

Kadayawan Festival Director Gatchi Gatchalian thus thought of introducing the fashion accessories competition to give the local designers a chance to display their proudly Dabawenyo products to boost the industry to be known in the global scene.

“Kaya ko naisip 'to kasi pwede itong maging industry at maging regular business for our designers. If we have this design competition tapos naka focus sa fashion accessory, we can now explore in coming up with an industry na kahit hindi pa tayo sikat, we can start something new,” he said. Gatchalian added that this is a great start for Dabawenyos as well as for local designers to venture into this sector. He looks forward to having this competition again in next year's festival.

Habi winners

The panel of judges composed of renowned fashion guru in the country’s fashion industry admitted that they had a hard time choosing whom to win among the finalists given all the epic local designs that dominated the catwalk.

These judges include Ann T. Pamintuan an award-winning furniture and jewelry designer; Neil Felipp San Pedro - British Council Look of Style Awards Fashion Accessory Winner, Ann Ong - New York Fashion Now Best Product Design Winter 2017 Winner; Interior Designer Leonardo Rey "Bing" Carino, a former Sub-Commission Executive Committee Member for Visual Arts of the National Culture and the Arts (NCCA), and Anna Marie Alzona, representative of the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions.

Singer-songwriter Maria Anathea "Maan" Chua emerged as the grand champion in her debut as accessory designer as she won over the judges with with her detailed craftsmanship in her fashion accent called “Agung”.

Chua said she was inspired by the Kulintang, a musical instrument that is common among the different tribes that has lived in Davao. But she opted to focus on the Ahungan of the Bagobo tribe, a standing kulintang.

“This beaded mandala-like accessory I am making is my first attempt in converting home accessory to a wearable accessory. The first series I have done were wall decors and were all framed at home,” her profile reads.

Chua said she was surprised by the results as making creative accessories was just her hobby since 2006. This is her first time to join such a competition as she was more inclined to join songwriting competitions.

“I am a singer-songwriter by profession and I write about the culture and beauty of Mindanao. So I thought if I were to make an accessory inspired by one, if not most of the tribes, I should give it justice, one that I would wear myself… proudly,” her profile added.

According to her, it took her three to five days to finish her entry by herself and one of the challenges for her in the process is the touch ethnic that does not compromise the high fashion and global appeal.

Meanwhile, Jun Artajo, an independent fashion designer snatched first runner-up for his Segun, a wedge-type footwear using T'nalak cloth, while Lala Chua was hailed as second runner-up for his Vinta shoes, also T'nalak inspired.

Other finalists are Carmela Alcantara, Lisette Castillo, Bea Abrigo, Renee Sinfuego, Arwin Meriales, Andi Amora, Mai Ongkiko, Goldie Siglos, Yvette Marie Punzalan, Sharen Arriola.

The Winners took home P100,000, P50,000, and P30,000, trophies, certificates and consolation Prizes.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte congratulated the participants and hopes that the exposure of the local designs would help in improving the lives of the Lumads in far-flung areas to better mainstream their local traditions and spark deeper appreciation.

Growing industry

The Davao Fashion and Design Council Foundation (DFDCF), which is one of the organizers of the activity alongside with Kadayawan Executive committee, took this activity as an good platform to develop local talents and showcase it in the international area to redefine the Davao’s artistry.

“Davao should be known also to accessories because we have rich materials. Now, we also want Davao to be part of it [fashion industry],” DFDCF former President Aztec Barba said in an interview. With plethora of natural resources, Barba said that the challenge ahead for Dabawenyo artists is how to maximize these resources and translate it into aesthetic designs.

“We have plenty of talents here and we just have to develop them at the same time entice them to join fashion accessories competition may it be here or outside the country,” he added.

The council has now 10 members and is still growing, geared to improve the Davao fashion scene. For aspiring designers, he said that they must continue dreaming and trust in their capacity. He added that they are willing to assist them in their journey.

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