The Likhang HABI Market Fair: Reconnecting with cotton and other natural fibers
The sixth Likhang HABI Market Fair, showcasing traditional Philippine weaves, will bring into focus the amazing development of locally woven products and their growing ability to survive and thrive in the market.
HABI’s goal is the preservation, development, and marketing via entrepreneurship of the Philippines’ unique and varied indigenous fabrics. Think inabel from Northern Luzon; silk from Negros; the Cordillera fabrics of Sagada, Banawe, Kalinga; piña from Aklan and Palawan; plus the colorful weaves from all over Mindanao.
In the annual market fair in Makati’s Glorietta Activity Center, buyers are introduced to a wide range of woven products, while weavers and vendors exchange ideas on the marketing, creative design, and modern use of the fabrics with traders, designers, and other interested parties. Entrepreneurship comes to the fore as weavers from all over the country are exposed to current trends and tastes and are encouraged to upgrade, update, and refine their products.
HABI also links weavers with institutions that can provide technical support. For example, the Philippine Textile Research Institute has helped a number of weavers and textile industry partners create special threads combining pineapple with silk and cotton with pineapple. Other projects in the works experiment with the use of natural blends, mixing cotton with materials such as bagasse, a fibrous by-product of the sugar industry. These efforts open niches for local weavers in global fashion trends.
A pet project of HABI is to support a return to pure cotton in weaving. In today’s trending slow fashion, hand-woven 100% cotton is a highly valued item. In past centuries, cotton cloth was a major feature of the Philippine economy, being traded for porcelain jars from Chinese merchants and exported to the Old World in the Spanish galleons. The cotton plant itself is endemic, and its seeds are an essential element of native rituals and lore. Philippine cotton is equivalent in quality to the best Egyptian cotton, but its cultivation and use has almost died out in the country. HABI encourages the planting of cotton, to provide weavers the material to create masterpieces in this and many other natural fibers to help bring Philippine textiles into global view.
The 2016 Likhang HABI Market Fair will be held on October 14 to 16, at the Glorietta Activity Center, Glorietta 2, Makati City.