When we, at ANTHILL, followed the trail towards sustainable fashion nine years ago, contemporary weave wearing and cultural appreciation were fresh, ambitious concepts.
The T’nalak of the T’bolis, the Abaca Pinanggabol of the Daraghuyan-Bukidnon tribe, and the Binakol of the Ilokanos were fabrics that belonged to us as a people, and were, in fact, part of us, our heirloom, our lineage. Our ancestors considered them our second skin but, with time, they became distant and disconnected, lost to a modern world.
But it’s 2019 now, and the landscape has since shifted thanks to maverick makers and weave wearers, a community that refused to let our beloved identity go. Words like “local”, “sustainable” and “handmade” are popular draw-ins. Weaves are cool now. Weaves are fun. Weaves are empowering (we’d like to think we played a significant role in that) and we’ve since claimed them as our own, but here lurks an unforeseen question still to be answered: do we, in this age of accessibility, know where they came from?
Take the death blankets of Kiangan, Ifugao, and a young designer’s use of the sacred ceremonial cloth in his gowns, table runners, and bed covers. Treading between cultural appropriation and appreciation is indeed a tedious and ongoing process.
We cannot work with a missing link. We should be a colony bonded in the drive to strengthen and honor this connection between maker and wearer. This is the solid foundation that makes ANTHILL’s ecosystem sustainable, and it’s imperative for us to check and balance ourselves and the community of wearers with which we thrive.
For many years, the Fashion Revolution Campaign has asked us to do one simple thing: to ask brands #whomademyclothes, to look at the socio, economic, cultural and ecological impacts of how our clothes are made. While we’ve treaded miles from where we came from on our trail towards accountability, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Never before has Fashion Revolution’s campaign been more significant than it is now in this stage where we raise our collective voices to let our movements mirror our mantra: Wear with intention. Honor the connection. We honor mother nature as our source of sustenance from which our natural fibres grow. We honor the designers, our collaborators, the seamstresses, and tailors who innovate our textile and bring them to life. We honor our storytellers and Proud Weave Wearers who with their beautiful tapestry of words ensure that those #whomadeourclothes are made visible; that they are seen, and they are enough.
Your questions encourage us to tell more stories, to be more transparent, to always hold us accountable to our commitments. Because we know you value every fibre of our heart woven cloth, we design with you in mind. We design with intention. We design our weaves to make them more wearable, accessible and versatile for your everyday wear. We also honor the weaves that have reached the end of their journey with you through our circularity program -- The Weave Exchange. Your old weaves aren’t thrown away. They are passed on with love and will soon be launched under a pre-loved line, Re-Weave.
Lastly, we honor the skills and heartwork of our Master Weavers- every mother, every woman weaving dreams into this world. Our mission powerfully emanates from them, and their constant affirmation to keep the value of weaving and weave-wearing alive. And if you, dear weave wearer, want to honor the same value, dare to ask brands you advocate for.
Ask difficult questions. Challenge all makers, big and small, to answer the question #whomademyclothes until the faces behind every piece of clothing become as accessible as the price on the tag. With something as important as our second skin, we deserve no less.