Elegant, trendy and chic—these just some of the adjectives thrown at the Philippine tropical fabric (PTF) outfits modeled at the recently heldBagong Habi, Salinlahi: Cutting Edge Philippine Textiles fashion show at the InterContinental Hotel Manila. Among the audience were executives, fashion designers and stakeholders of the textile industry who were dazzled at the seeming metamorphosis of indigenous fabrics into classy, eco-friendly fashion pieces.
Spearheaded by the country’s lead textile research and development agency, the Philippine Textile Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PTRI),Bagong Habi: Salinlahilaunched fabrics made of native Philippine plants such as piña, abaca, and banana. The real revelation, meanwhile, was the introduction of newly-developed fabrics made from water hyacinth,saluyot, and maguey. All garments were dyed using natural plant sources, namely: mayana, guava, mahogany, achuete, indigo,talisay,and coconut husk.
The featured designers showcased a wide array of stylish garments created from tropical fabrics—from cocktail dresses to office uniforms, bridal pieces, and casual to formal wear for men and women. Special ethnic fabrics from different parts of the country were also incorporated in several designs to pay tribute to local craftsmanship and culture, namelyinabelof Ilocos,piñaandjusiof Aklan,hablonof Iloilo, andinaulof Maguindanao.
Excitement filled the grand ballroom as models flaunted their attires individually on the runway with accompanying Filipino music of various rhythms, beats and genres. Meanwhile, through audio-visual presentations, the audience learned of DOST-PTRI’s step-by-step processes in manufacturing various tropical fibers and natural dyes.
Among the designers of the fashion collection were Bon Gavino-Gautier, chair of the Uniform Manufacturers Organization and Designers Association (UNIMODA), Jamie Espadilla of The Jaime Collection, Curitthy Manzanero of Shelmed Cottage Industries, Emeretha Daniel of Nooks Co Ltd, and Anthony Cruz Legarda, featured designer based in New York and the fashion show’s creative director.
“Bagong Habi: Salinlahiis all about making new, innovative and world-class textiles and a showcase of designs for different facets of life. It is synergistic—it was made possible through the collaboration of individuals who are passionate about our own culture, natural resources, and great talent in manufacturing,” Legarda said.
“Bagong Habi: Salinlahiaims to iron out all misconstrued perceptions towards indigenous fabrics that they are impractical, itchy, uncomfortable and drab,” said DOST-PTRI director Dr. Carlos Tomboc.
Meanwhile, according to Ms. Nora Mangalindan, R&D Team Head at DOST-PTRI, the tropical fabrics used by the designers in their collections were enzyme-treated to eliminate their itchiness. The fabrics, in addition, are no longer stiff, have a softer drape, and can easily comply with any design. Washing will be easier, too, as they no longer require dry-cleaning.
“The clothes are surprisingly light and comfortable. I love their feel. I am really not a fan ofbarongbut these (barongs) are stylish, unique and perfect for those who want to be fashionistas for a change,” said Miguel Masigan, one of the night’s models.
“They are very comfortable, trendy, and not itchy. I feel good wearing them. It is so likeme,” quipped Veronica De Castro, another model. (By George Robert Valencia III)