Lara, Waray for ‘weaving,’ is the brainchild of Samar Governor Ann Tan in collaboration with tourism arm Spark Samar. Though the brand was initially created to uplift the plight of the Basiao Native Weavers’ Association (BANWA),” it has evolved to become a sustainable livelihood project that offers contemporary fashion and lifestyle creations.
Speaking to Preview, Lara's brand manager Yen Pomida-Nacario shares, “Lara is a reinvention of the traditional art of banig weaving, a century-old craft that is the lifeblood of one of the oldest towns of Samar—the Municipality of Basey. The weavers draw inspiration from the changing times, while remaining grounded in the old ways. They have mastered how to tweak and tinker with weaving and patterns, transforming the banig into modern fashion and lifestyle pieces that pay homage to the evolving scenes of their day-to-day lives.”
The brand gathered the four biggest banig houses of Basey to fashion bags, shoes, and accessories in innovative designs. They use indigenous materials native to Samar such as “tikog grass, a jointless grass sturdier than pandan or buri, which is dried and woven into different shapes and patterns.” What makes Lara special is the fact that every product is expertly crafted and ingrained with each artisan's unique touch—making no two pieces ever exactly the same. Through the brand, the weavers are slowly rebuilding their town and their lives and restoring what was lost during Typhoon Yolanda.
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With their woven creations, Lara aims to “elevate and modernize local products of Samar, provide long-term sustainable livelihood to various communities, promote socio-cultural and environmental awareness among the people, and integrate a contemporary handle on tourism through fashion and style,” says Pomida-Nacario. In addition to that, however, the brand hopes to enter the global market and put the spotlight on the dying art form of weaving and the banig.