LONDON - From the impoverished neighborhood of Payatas in Metro Manila to the international fashion showcase of London Fashion Week, bags were created with an ethical business model in mind.
Rags2Riches is a social enterprise that primarily uses upcycled fabric scraps, organic and native weaves sourced from indigenous communities in the Philippines.
Bags with bold, intricate weaves were made by empowered women of Payatas.
“There were nanays there who were weaving our scrap cloths who were earning 20 dollars a day because of middle men. That's how we started, with intention to help the group of mothers,” said Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, president and founding partner of Rags2Riches.
Handbags and accessories by style icon and bag designer Amina Aranaz were also showcased to represent the Philippines.
Aranaz exclusively uses locally-sourced raw materials from various parts of the Philippines to create timeless, classic pieces.
They proved to be scene stealers in the fashion showcase.
“I've always been a supporter and I always like pushing Filipino design, Filipino craftsmanship, Filipino materials. I really wanted to showcase our variety of natural materials and our wealth of craftsmanship,” said Aranaz.
Aranaz said many who came to see her exhibit could not believe her high fashion handbags were made out of coconut shells, abaca, and mother of pearl.
“Here, they are very surprised when I tell the story behind each piece, what its made out of. They are amazed at what our materials can look like,” said Aranaz.
She supplies handbags to world-renown brands and labels but she hopes to sell the Aranaz bag label in the international market in the near future.
“I love being able to surprise our audience that this is what we can do that we can go beyond arts and crafts items, that we can create pieces that are creatively designed and showcase our artisanal skills,” she added.
“It's a privilege to be here. Its high fashion, its Fashion Week, its all things beautiful but I think its high time for us to know the stories behind the products,” Ruiz said.
Rags2Riches and Aranaz handbags were the Philippine's pride in the London Fashion Week, joining 110 international emerging designers.