Empowering Filipino women through fashion
It has been a trend to the titas of Manila to frequent weekend local pop-up stores. There are many things to find from abaca home decors to inabel modern tops. One thing in common that drives weekend shoppers to these events is not only retail therapy but the cultural impact their purchase makes. Their purchase support local communities and artisans from various communities across the regions of the Philippines. There has not been much innovations on technology for cultural preservation of fabric weaving. These are still woven manually in looms causing the high price and demand. These heirloom techniques made by hand have been passed on from generation to generation.
A modern Filipiniana brand that I created, called Nuevo Ystilo, supports women weavers in various regions across the Philippines. They are mostly stay-at-home mothers who support and tend to their families. As a side hustle, they weave or sew to provide additional income to their household. As women entrepreneurs, it is our responsibility to create a sustainable livelihood for them. We ensure to make the users of their products see the value of the craft beyond their purchase.
Women entrepreneurs lead to empower other women in their workforce. It is our responsibility to ensure sustained development, income, and quality of life of our employees. Our commitment to patronize the local products from communities is what gives them value. We innovate using their designs and techniques to give them access to both local and international market. Currently, there is a high demand for local woven fabrics but the communities cannot supply these due to the lack of weavers. As women entrepreneurs, it is also our responsibility to preserve these fabrics and techniques. Educating the community about their worth in society and history is essential in cultural preservation. We encourage them to continue and pass on the traditional techniques. We also help discover new ways to make production more efficient to keep up with the market demand. We create channels and opportunities for them to grow their supply of fabrics.
Philippine textiles locally sourced and produced are abaca, piña, silk cocoon, and jusi. The Philippine textile community needs the support of the government to improve quality and speed of production of these fabrics. We should work together as leaders and entrepreneurs to innovate rather than compete against each other. We empower one another to reach a common goal rather that divide the market and achieve nothing. The demand will always be there, it is just a matter of finding your market. We use fabrics that use traditional weaving techniques such as the Yakan Seputangan fabric from Zamboanga and Abaca T’nalak from Lake Sebu. Nuevo Ystilo gives honor to our local women weavers and tribes who have kept the beauty of Philippine textile alive through the years.
With each purchase of products made by women, you are empowering their community and tribe. In this day and age, we try to build a society where women should not be struggling to be seen and heard. We let women shine in their own glory. We create a world where everyone has equal opportunities to show their skill and talent regardless of race, color, and religion. Our brand empathizes the beauty not only of women but of Filipina women across the regions of the Philippines. By patronizing Filipiniana wear, you are doing your part in empowering other Filipino women. You become part of the community that fuels the economy and impacts the society while preserving our culture and heritage.
Ella Santos-Sol is a social entrepreneur that founded Nuevo Ystilo, a modern Filipiniana brand. She focuses on women empowerment and is conscious of slow fashion. The inspired vision started as an undergraduate thesis in University of Asia and the Pacific. She wanted to showcase the beauty of traditional wear to modern women. Nuevo Ystilo is the realization of Ella’s goals—to promote Philippine craftsmanship and artistry through fashion.
Women Who Lead is an initiative of the Philippine Women’s Economic Network (PhilWEN).