Why we think it's worth saving
We live in an industrial world that values speed and efficiency and is predisposed towards convenience and mass market goods.
We believe that there's a great deal of good that comes with modernization but also, that there exists a delicate balance that needs to be maintained.
We believe that there's value in maintaining our ties to the past.
We believe that there is space in the contemporary world for something artisanal and lovingly made by hand.
In sharp contrast to factory-produced goods, the inabel fabric is handwoven on ancient looms by Filipino women. It takes 2 weeks just to set up a pattern on a loom and a loom can produce only about 2 meters of fabric a day. The process is intricate and time-consuming, the result, breathtakingly beautiful.
Today, there are less than 10 inabel master weavers alive. Within a generation, the inabel tradition may vanish - unless we do something about it.
A living fabric infused with history
The inabel fabric is a handwoven textile that is intimately connected to the people who create them. The tradition of weaving is passed down from one generation to another along with the stories that emerge from the fabric's patterns. The fabric itself is an expression of the culture, identity and history of the ancient Filipinos, often depicting the harvest cycle and symbols of prosperity. The fabric is present in all the key moments of a person's life, often presented as a gift during birth, a marriage, and death.
We designed the collection around the inabel fabric because we wanted to create modern products that are infused with our identity as a people, underscoring the belief that our heritage should not exist as an artefact within a museum but as a living fabric that follows the threads of our lives.
The intimate tension between warp and weft is one of balance, in much the same way that there's yin and there's yang, the past and the present, modernity and antiquity.
The advocacy: what we hope to achieve
The weaving tradition dates back several centuries and is an intrinsic part of the Filipino culture. However, with the rise of industrialization, the world has shifted dramatically towards factory-produced goods, with prices dropping as quantities rise.
As we continue to move in this direction, the number of weavers and pocket communities that uphold the tradition of weaving get smaller and smaller and consequently, more women are losing their source of livelihood. As it stands, there are less than 10 master weavers left in the country.
Given the nature of handcrafted goods, the weavers of the Philippines cannot produce items at the speed and price of mass market goods. Artisanal products, however, are not meant to replace factory goods, but to enhance them; to co-exist in the present as our link to the past.
We designed a collection around the inabel fabric in an effort to:
- keep the tradition of weaving alive
- help support the livelihood of women from Ilocos
- marry traditional techniques with modern products
- create something that we could fall in love with: artisanal products that have both form and function and are truly one of a kind
We chose travel as a theme because the modernity of travel, combined with the heritage of inabel make for a fascinating contrast.
Travel is also a metaphor for movement: the complex movement of the weaver, the loom, and the thread is essential in bringing inabel to life
The result: products that fit the present, while reminding us of the past. Through our efforts, inabel can also have a future.
Which reward is right for you?
Clicking on the product photos below will redirect you to our Pinterest page where we've uploaded a few catalogue photos of the product should you want to see it in greater detail.
Inabel Luggage tag
A basic necessity when travelling. Style up your boring old suitcase with a luggage tag that tells your nomadic story. Crafted with the inabel custom cotton kundiman pattern and genuine leather. The inabel luggage tag can also be used as a metro card holder in your tote bag or your secret stash money holder.
Inabel Passport Sleeve
One's love for travel is often matched with exotic mementos from each of your previous destinations but a well-worn and multi-stamped passport is the ultimate travel trophy; the sleeve that it comes in should speak for what's inside. Sate your wanderlust in style with an inabel passport sleeve. The fabric has been reformulated using a custom cotton-poly blend and the leather interiors will age beautifully over time.
Inabel Cotton Shawl (a Kickstarter Exclusive)
Unlike the other items offered in the collection, this limited edition token is produced from start to finish by a pocket community of weavers from Sabangan, Ilocos Norte, the Philippines. We have commissioned the weavers to create 50 pieces to give out as an exclusive reward to the Kickstarter community.The item itself will not be made available for sale as part of the collection. The item in the photo features a binandera pattern, originally used on sail cloths and head scarves during the 1600's.
Here's a detailed look at the shawl:
Inabel Pocketed V-neck Shirt (a Kickstarter Exclusive)
A newly added token. How can we forget that our basic V-neck is everyone's favourite travel uniform. It's made extra comfortable with 100% cotton, and a perfected fit. We made a deep V-neck for the ladies to add a little sexiness and style. The inabel pocket comes from excess fabric from the inabel master weavers themselves. Not wanting to throw them out, we decided to turn them into shirt pockets. Since the pockets are made of excess inabel material, the shirt pocket will be sent at random, giving you a surprise one-of-a-kind shirt. They come in XS, S, M, L, XL sizes and will be selected via survey upon the end of the project. Delivered with a special TDLG x AVA gift box to your doorstep.
Inabel Travel Pillow
Your ultimate R&R companion. We have perfected the travel pillow making it less bulky, lightweight, and of course over the top luxe. We understand your jet setter needs and have added this token to complete your journey with something you might need right from the very beginning of your adventure. It comes with an envelope pouch to help make storage in your carry-on luggage a breeze. The pillow measures 8.5" x 12.5"
Inabel Dopp Kit
The Dopp Kit was originally meant for all your toiletry needs but as we toyed around with the product to test its durability, we found that the dopp kit's size also made it a perfect carrying case for the following:
- iPod/iPhone/iPad and mobile phone cables, laptop chargers, our portable hard drive and universal plugs
- Fits a pair of shoes perfectly! So far, we've gone up to a size 9 and were able to fit a pair of loafers, plimsolls, oxfords, ballet flats (2 pairs!), and 3" heels comfortably. Athletic shoes were a bit of a stretch, though.
- Mini-emergency kit for our kids which we kept in the trunk of our car; dopp kit contained 1 extra shirt, an inhaler, a small stainless steel bottle/snack container, baby wipes and a small bottle of hand sanitizer
Inabel iPad Folio
The iPad Folio crafted out of inabel fabric and genuine leather perfectly marries the history of the past with the lifestyle of the contemporary age. Product features a slip pocket for your tablet, a roomy zippered pocket, and retractable strap. Expands comfortably up to 2 inches when stuffed with documents (folded), a pen and a stylus.
Inabel Travel Robe
Nothing is more indulgent than bring along your one-of-a-kind robe to your destination. Crafted using a custom cotton-poly blend and features a red-orange kundiman pattern combined with an elegant japan crepe material for that luxurious jet set feel. Still way more affordable than your 5th Ave. department store find. One size fits most.
(measurements: across shoulder: 17.5” / body length : 36” / collar length: 16” / sleeve opening: 9” / sleeve length: 18” / belt length: 70”)
Inabel Weekender Bag
No self-respecting travel afficionado would be complete without luggage. The crown jewel of the collectionis an oversized weekender bag that shows off the inabel fabric beautifully. Item features two main compartments, an exterior slip pocket, a leather bottom and corner guards for added durability. The product ships out with a matching luggage tag and a drawstring dust bag that doubles as a laundry bag.
Travel Essentials Set
Travel basics for the seasoned few who have perfected the art of packing: lean, light and just the essentials. Because these people understand that you always come home with more items than you left with. Bring what you need but always come back with something new.
Our Best Reward! Travel to the Philippines and Experience Inabel
Hands-on weaving workshop in Ilocos, the Philippines. Learn the basics of weaving from the master weavers themselves. Weaving workshop will be at Ilocos and will run for 3 days. Immerse yourself in the art and beauty of the inabel craft!
The process: bringing inabel to life
We've been developing the inabel collection for over a year now.
In collaborating with designer, Tweetie de Leon, we wanted to produce a collection that can 1.) have global appeal, 2.) educate a wider audience about design and textile history, and 3.) make a positive social impact to a community.
We then met Al Valenciano, Director of the Study Center for Traditional Textiles in the Northern Philippines. Al and the AVA team shared the same vision of making a positive impact in artisan communities by providing them market access for their products.
We travelled to Ilocos, in the Northern Philippines, to meet the weavers and understand the process behind the fabric.
Al hosted us in his house, where we got to see stacks of inabel!
Inabel can also be used in wide variety of products.
We then spent a great deal of time ideating what products can work best. One dilemma was whether to feature several inabel patterns, or to feature one. We decided on the latter so we can focus on ensuring quality.
03 march 2014: THE STATUS QUO
We've finished prototyping each of the items in the collection and have approved the final samples and are ready for production to begin. One important decision made during the product development stage was to use a custom cotton-poly blend instead of the traditional pure cotton threads used by the weavers. Historically, the inabel fabric was used primarily to create the traditional abel iloko blankets. They were 100% cotton and got softer and fluffier with use. We decided to switch from pure cotton to a poly-cotton mix in order to improve the durability of the product. The custom blend prevents the fabric from fraying and getting linty over time.
We've invested a great deal in ensuring that the products are ready for market: we travelled to Ilocos to get to know some of the weavers and see the fabric made, we've consulted with traditional textile experts, and we've stress-tested the products to death. The $4,000 funding goal that we've set is the last leg of funding that we need in order to bring these products to market.
The funds that we raise on Kickstarter will go to manufacturing and producing the collection and purchasing a second batch of fabric from the weavers in Ilocos.
This is the first step in a longer journey. Our bigger vision is to create an online retail platform for artisan products and social enterprises from Southeast Asia. This allows consumers in the United States or Europe to bypass layers of middlemen and access unique merchandise from Southeast Asian countries, each boasting its own unique culture and tradition.
Meet the team
About AVA. AVA is an online retail platform for women in Southeast Asia. The brainchild of a Harvard Business School graduate, AVA believes in supporting emerging designers, up-and-coming brands, and artisan communities and we do this by helping them to produce and market their collections and connecting them with a global audience.
To date AVA has featured over 200+ brands in categories ranging from apparel, jewelry, home, eco-friendly and social enterprise goods. Majority of AVA's brands come from independent merchants and women entrepreneurs. With the retail supply chain in Southeast Asia controlled by large companies and layers of middlemen, AVA provides these merchants with an online retail channel to directly reach customers. AVA's been around for almost three years, and is backed by prominent investors in the Philippines, including Kickstart Ventures, Hatchd, and the Segovia Group.
About the Designer: Tweetie de Leon is one of the Philippines’ most recognized faces. Tweetie rose to stardom when she was chosen to represent the Philippines in the Ford Supermodel of the World competition. After a successful acting career on primetime TV, Tweetie became host of Project Runway Philippines and is now a successful designer of statement accessories, and a mother of four. A woman of passion and persona, Tweetie de Leon teamed up with AVA to create a unique collection around the inabel fabric in an effort to keep this dying tradition alive.
A VERY SPECIAL THANKS TO:
AL VALENCIANO from Balay ni Atong
Al is the Director for the Study Center for Traditional Textiles in the Northern Philippines. He has singularly taken on the project of documenting the inabel process via his study center in order to preserve the tradition and process of weaving for future generations. Al works closely with the pocket communities of weavers in Ilocos and continues to be our resident "inabel expert" for the project.
AGNES SEVILLA MENDOZA
Egg, as she is fondly known, was instrumental during the sampling and product development stage of the project. With more than 16 years of fabric, design and product development experience under her belt, she was, and continues to be, a valued consultant for the project. Without her help and expertise, the final products would not be as finished and polished as they are.
Our friends from Rockwell, Hannah and Tracey, for generously opening up their Proscenium home for us to shoot and work in.
Risks and challenges
Given the nature of the product, the most challenging part of this project are our timelines. The intricacies of weaving by hand require a great deal of time and a great deal of work. As such, we can only produce a very limited number of items per batch. It takes 2 weeks to set up a loom and a loom can only accommodate one pattern in a particular colorway at a time. A loom requires 2 people to operate it and it can only produce 2 meters of fabric a day. Before the weaving process can even begin, the threads must be dyed and spooled. And only after the fabric has been woven can the manufacturing process begin.
As of the project launch, we have about 18 yards of fabric on hand, allocated for Kickstarter rewards. We have completed the sampling and prototyping stage of the project and our manufacturers have perfected the patterns for each of the products. We can begin production for the tokens and begin weaving a fresh batch of products as soon as the funding goal has been reached.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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