What's your personal advocacy?
At our workshop, we try to create through slow design and conscious crafting.
What was the turning point that first got you interested in it?
It began with a lament over a table cloth. Our grandmother had this mantel - a table cloth - which was made of fragile piña fabric and filled with motifs, all of which had been embroidered by hand. It seemed to us, as children and as adults, impossibly long and so delicate. Our mother told us that it would take a whole group of women, seated together at a single table, months to finish a piece. We asked our mother, 'Where are the women who made these? Why were people not making things like these anymore?'
We think that imagined vision of women creating something together was as powerful and as beautiful an idea as the designs that were rendered in piña. It's only now, in hindsight, we realise that these questions sparked a fascination and devotion for the heritage of Philippine embroidery and beadwork - a curiosity in the matrilineal kinship that it fostered.
How do you live it out daily?
At work, we have always been advocates of craft, the artisan's hands, and trying to create season-less, engaging pieces of quality. In our case, we aspire to create modern heirlooms that are meant to be passed down from generation to generation.
With the way we had set out to build the physical structure of the workshop, the idea of natural light and natural ventilation was always at the forefront of the design so that our space would always be bright and open, relying on minimal electricity.
It is a matter of choices, large and small, the details that you string together daily. The phrase 'where your ethic and aesthetic unite' is what we try to build towards. We try to create pieces with long lifespans and through a long view lens.
Words to live by
As we begin our craft with tiny, hand-held pieces, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's words 'God is in the details' has always resonated. Through the years, we've learned how poignant and necessary Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese concept of finding beauty in imperfection, is. There is a harmony between the two ideas. It is something we search for and explore at the workshop constantly.
Personal definition of sustainability
It's the good seed that grows into a great forest. A connected system that can endure by creating, regenerating value - living traditions.
To paraphrase from The Life Lore Institute, living traditions depend on tradition bearers and their supporters to keep them alive. Typically handed down through generations, they continue to hand down specific cultural practices to others in a living chain, often involving oral transmission as a key element. It's critical to find one's own blend of innovation and traditionalism, infusing the heritage and legacy of each tradition with life through their living, breathing contribution to the practice of their craft.
Tips for individuals who want to start adopting a more sustainable lifestyle
The shift can be done through choice and information. We'd say the simplest way would be to read and to research about it. There is so much information that can spark awareness. It is already quite accessible in the food industry, with the rise of organic farming and produce - and that's a wonderful starting point too, as it's what we put into our bodies daily.
In terms of fashion, we believe there are a few areas that are easily adoptable. Consciousness about cost is a good place to begin. If something does seem too inexpensive on the retail floor, there is someone else on the opposite end of it who is paying the price, in kind, for that.
In terms of utility, there are old school ideas that seem fresh and relevant again - mending, sharing, resale, swapping. These keep the garments and accessories in use for longer. So, it is ideal to invest in pieces of quality and value.
Personally, between us sisters and a few friends, we've shared baby clothes that have passed down from daughter to daughter, with the same clothes reappearing throughout the years with different memories fastened on to them.