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Uniting Talent To Preserve Heritage: The Handiwork and Style Of Inabel 2018 Fashion Show

The novelty of handwoven or handcrafted items tend to diminish over time if these don’t fit with a modern lifestyle; but in this year’s Inabel 2018 fashion show, featuring  Ilocano weave products, this isn’t so.  Dr. Joven Cuanan, founder of Pinto Art Museum and organizer of the Inabel fashion project, points out that by promoting cotton farming in the Philippines it will help revive the Inabel woven cloth market.  The word itself, “Inabel” means “woven” in Ilocano, and represents the intricate livelihood involved behind the scenes in this textile enterprise. 


Venue of Inabel Fashion Show


Bundles of Inabel fabrics 


Dr. Joven briefly shared the core cause behind the support for Inabel production, to preserve a cultural heritage of Ilocano weavers. “In Ilocos, there is a Magdalena Gamayo, who is being named a national treasure. This is really the inspiration for that particular project. From three weavers, now we have about eight weavers doing it; and from zero farms for many years, there are now 22 hectares of land that is planted for cotton. We hope that we will be able to sustain this effort, and we are making sure that other places in Ilocos will start cotton farming.”


The chosen collections for the show were brought to fruition by 3 Filipino designers: Inabel’s round up of kids’ wear by Nina Corpuz, streetwear by Otto Sacramento, and formalwear by Edgar Madamba.  These collections brought delight to fashion seekers.  Held at Antipolo’s well-loved posting point, Pinto Art Museum, the sunny afternoon picked for the Inabel 2018 fashion show began with a delicious buffet, inclusive of the North’s famed on-site crafted Ilocano empanada with light cocktails as refreshment.


Designers Edgar Madamba, Nina Corpuz and Otto Sacramento


The first showcase of Inabel style was by Nina Corpuz, who released a versatile casualwear range, combining varied colors of Inabel fabric with durable yet comfy denim.  “Because my kids are growing up, they're going to mature from wearing pink and cute, to colors like black, white, and deep red.  So that’s the evolution.  Last year, we had the first fashion show and I used bright colors, but this year I chose the darker colors.” 


Otto Sacramento’s Ottomondi streetwear collection presented contemporary masculine silhouettes and geometric cuts combined with paneled patchwork, stripes and checked patterns.  All together, the collection was a more laid back rendition for the preppy male urbanite, slightly underdone but chic nonetheless. Otto pointed out the utilitarian beat present in his design choices, many based on uniforms from varied industries “Meron akong inspirations like a doctors uniform, and I also have big pockets. Everything is really for working people and I made it look more [like] streetwear.”


Edgar Madamba’s wonderfully flirty retro 50’s-inspired Filipiniana appeared to be the formal toast of the catwalk that night. With a boost of retro music and models dancing, not just strutting in style, the movement of Edgar’s clothes caught everyone’s attention. 


Given the time constraints, Edgar was quite surprised he came up with a substantial collection. “You won’t believe it, siguro mga 2 weeks pero cramming.  Puyat kasi I still had other works to do.  I was able to manage it.  It was not really that easy [working with Inabel textile]. But then I am so used to it because I am from Ilocos, so I know the fabric so well.  So hindi na ako masyadong nahirapan.”


By the end of the night, viewers got an exciting glimpse into the wonders of Inabel, and the many wondrous possibilities of the Ilocano heritage.



Photos by Julia Arenas