NEW YORK — Twinkle Ferraren's design style features traditional Filipino handwoven fabric made for modern everyday wear.
It's an uncommon combination but the Filipino designer rose to the challenge to make it her own distinct style.
"I love tribes. For me tribes speak about our heritage, our culture. It's the soul of a country. It's how you know who you are," she said.
From Benguet Province to Sulu, Ferraren has been working with ethnic and tribal communities around the Philippines to find that special heritage materials that would give her design a distinct Filipino look and feel.
Her modern silhouettes are hand-embellished with embroidery, bead work, and print-painting. Inspired by tribal artisans, the geometric details of her creations are organic and natural.
"A lot of it geometric, because of the weave meanings, some of it are mountain, turtle, frogs, crabs, fishbone, the ocean. So you can just imagine this is the kind of area that they are living in," she said.
A designer for 10 years, Ferraren learned what it takes to make her ethnic designs relevant to the modern fashionistas. Even her swimwear and island wear collections are everyday wearable fashion.
For young Filipino American customers who are always on the lookout for designs that would showcase their ethnic roots, the wearability of Ferraren's creations is also a big plus.
"It's really great because it provides a jumping point for me to talk about the Philippines with my friends, even strangers," New Yorker Stephanie Chrispin said.
Founders of the Second Annual Ethical Pop-Up Shop said Ferraren's designs are a big hit in the Big Apple.
Andy Katz, co-founder of Jewel Lotus Global Ethical Market Place, said, "There's something really unique and special about the designs coming from the Philippines. They're a bit more like an earthy grounded feel. Some of the weaves and the thread that are being used, they're so incredible."
Ferraren said, "We have everybody from all over the world here in New York and then they appreciate it. So then you realize that it's not only for Filipinos, but it's for the world. So it's exciting, she said.
The Jewel and Lotus Ethical Marketplace for a Better World runs until August 23 at the Mark Miller Gallery in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
Read more on Balitang America.