The devil is in the details as the saying goes, and in fashion, a series of beads strategically placed can make all the difference from turning simple into something truly special. It was the attention to detail and fabric that caught my eye when I spotted an old friend, Len Cabili, sporting a colorful jacket at a party. Looking closely at it, I was reminded of the prints and patterns of the traditional garb I often saw in pictures worn by those hailing from the region of Mindanao. It turned out, her jacket was not only inspired by the malongs worn by the Maranao, but were also made by them. Cabili, who founded Filip+Inna clothes in 2011 (although she started making them in 2010) grew up in Iligan City in Mindanao. “As a child, I remember how I loved to watch my mom dress up for special occasions, the Maranaos would sometime come to our home in their colorful malongs. It made such a lasting impact on me — I learned to appreciate fashion and tradition. Then I took up my BS in clothing technology at the UP Diliman,” she says.
Although Cabili confesses she has to “wear many hats” as founder and creative designer, she credits a true collaboration between her and the artisans from the different indigenous groups around the Philippines, stating that “they are the reason why I put up the brand.” This collaboration is what gives Filip+Inna creative exclusitivity and excellence. The clothes are made by different groups and the clothes travel wherever the group is, traditional meets contemporary as both “old” and new are intertwined in the designs. Everything is handmade, so you are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind piece. This unique stamp also brings Filipino culture to the forefront especially when viewed by overseas or foreign buyers. “I love looking at the traditional textiles, clothes and accessories of the different indigenous groups,” says Cabili. “We are such creative people and we have a rich culture — the stage is set for the design, when people look at the clothes they will look for the inspiration behind it and see the Philippine culture.”
One can choose to make a statement such as wearing the Hiroko (P12,500-P18,500), a floor-length kaftan made from Thai silk with full embroidery, all done by hand by the Tboli, can grace any formal occasion and turn heads. Or something a little more subtle like the Tboli vest (P3,000) also inspired by the Tboli which can turn a casual outfit into something a little more cutting edge. One bestseller is the Anya dress (P13,500) made out of cotton chambray, while those who favor pants to dresses would love the colorful dynamic of the Petra pants (P6,500-P8,500) in linen. For a cool cover-up, the Subi jacket (P5,500-P7,500) which is also fully beaded on metallic linen is a great travel-worthy addition to your closet. Locally, the clothes are already gaining recognition as they are quite unforgettable, but Filip+Inna has also been recently picked up by Atelier360 for their store in Connecticut and carried online via www.Indagare.com in the US.
For 2013 the designer looks forward to launching her first full collection this month. “We’ve been doing capsule collections for two years! Next is something for men, and then hopefully a children’s line by late 2013.” Each piece will be part of a collector’s series, almost like an artwork with tags showing the number of series as there are limited runs of each item color and design. Getting your hands on something truly Filipino could be akin to finding national treasure.
For more information on Filip+Inna, visit www.filipinna.com. Also available at Itsie-Bitsie in Joya Towers, Rockwell, Makati.