HABI Puts the Spotlight on Filipino Cotton Weavers
Gone is the idea that local is inferior. In the past decade, the “support local” movement has been growing steadily, with entrepreneurs setting up shop, whether for food, art, or design, in different parts of the country.
When it comes to local textiles, in particular, there’s definitely been a resurgence of artisanal brands. From social enterprises to designer couture, homegrown labels making use of local fabrics are on the rise.
It’s a welcome development for the HABI Philippine Textile Council, which has been bringing the plight of local weavers to light since 2009. Founded with the objective to preserve traditional weaving practices and sustaining weaving communities, the group works to revive the use of cotton yarns spun from crops in provinces such as Ilocos Norte and Iloilo.
“Textiles made from cotton and other natural fibers are in vogue due to the current slow fashion movement,” says HABI. “The demand is for organic and ethically produced garments. Environmentally aware designers seek pure cotton textiles that have a gentler impact on the environment in terms of waste and energy use.”
The council works with farmer communities to increase the land space of cotton farms and build micro-spinning facilities. HABI works on these changes so that locally grown cotton can be spun for weavers and production costs can be lowered while increasing the quality of fabrics.
To further promote the livelihood of cotton weavers, the council founded the Likhang HABI Market Fair, an annual bazaar that allows startup enterprises to showcase their products and nurtures weavers to become entrepreneurs, too.
Now on its eighth year, the Likhang HABI Market Fair has come a long way from the 12 participants it began with at its inception. At this year's “Woven Voyages” fair, close to 80 vendors showcased their handwoven textiles and ethical fashion and lifestyle products. Aside from Philippine textiles, other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam also presented their collections.
Slow and ethical fashion may be in style right now, but we also have to start putting money where our mouths are by supporting our weavers. Here are a few places you can start: