A recent exhibit was staged in a bid to relive the Ilocano weaving tradition of inabel.
The iconic inabel is a traditional woven cloth from Northern Luzon, particularly in the Ilocos Region and some areas in the Mountain Province. Commonly made from yarns of cotton and dyed from the sap of a plum called sagut, the inabel is known for being colorful and strong. Manually woven through a wooden loom, an abel fabric is made up of pure creativity, imagination, positivity, respect, discipline, and keenness.
However, inabel is currently facing several challenges—with weavers getting older, young people willing to learn the intricate patterns and raw materials like handspun cotton thread getting fewer, and natural vegetable dyes getting scarcer.
Pinto Art Museum and SM Aura Premier hence have teamed up to stage "Pinto x Aura: Inabel" to create awareness of traditional weavers and the handwoven fabric, as well as introduce the concept of sustainable fashion to the market.
Dr. Joven Cuanang, Pinto Art Museum owner and one of the founders of House of Inabel, is an active supporter of Barangay Lumbaan Weavers Association. His interest in inabel started after hearing about Magdalena Gamayo who, at 88 years old, was given the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or National Living Treasure Award in 2012.
He was saddened when he found out that there were only three active weavers and the farmers have already stopped planting cotton, preferring to plant tobacco instead.
Dr. Cuanang then pushed for the revival of the cotton industry and in 2015, encouraged farmers to plant cotton again. He provided them with a pump, the initial seedlings, and a two-hectare tract of land. Today, they now have a 22-hectare plot dedicated to cotton farming. They were also able to encourage more locals to try weaving. Currently, there are 18 weavers of inabel.
During the exhibit, the designers showcased the beauty and versatility of inabel. Couturier Edgar Madamba showcased his intricately woven beaded elegant gowns, a few of them with a twist of modern Filipiniana.
Broadcast journalist and fashion designer Niña Corpuz of Niña Inabel, on the other hand, showed how inabel could be worn by all members of the family, highlighting her holiday collection for kids, as well as those for Kids and Moms, her take on Denim and Inabel, and her bestselling Inabel V-neck square tops.
Corpuz, who enjoys dressing up her daughters using inabel fabric, said that is where her career as a fashion designer started.
Filipino-Italian Sherwin Otto Sacramento of Ottomondi Red Label took a more casual approach with street wear and t-shirts as well as hats and bags accentuated with inabel fabrics. Sacramento was one of this year’s winner of Bench Design Awards.
Guests included Dr. Cuanang, Greenfield president and chairman of the board Jeffrey Campos, Kannawidan Foundation’s Betty Factora Merritt, curator Rene Guatlo, broadcast journalist Julius Babao, and travel writer Gabby Malvar and wife Ginngay.
Miss Earth Philippines 2018 Silvia Celeste Cortesi, Miss Earth Eco-Tourism Philippines Halimatu Yushawu, and Miss Water Philippines Berjayneth Chee, as well as Barcino’s Teresa and Jordi Rostoll also attended the event.
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