PH Embassy in London Previews Mindanao Textiles on London Fashion Week

Mindanao-based designer Martha Rodriguez (center) showcases her latest collection in London featuring the woven textiles of the Tausug, T’boli, and Yakan indigenous groups during The Philippine Embassy in London Previews, a private viewing of the collection organized by the Embassy for London’s fashion and style elite. (London PE photos)

LONDON 24 September 2018 – In line with London Fashion Week, the Philippine Embassy in London launched “The Embassy Previews,” a platform to bring the works of emerging Filipino fashion designers under the radar of London’s fashion influencers and trendsetters on 12 September 2018.

“Through ‘The Embassy Previews,’ the Philippine Embassy hopes to put the spotlight on world-class Philippine brands built on sustainable fashion, fair trade, and impeccable design. The program is aimed at providing emerging Filipino fashion designers a stage not only to show the world their masterpieces but to also honor the work and heritage of various Philippine artisan communities that the designers are in close collaboration with,” said Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio M. Lagdameo.

The program’s debut featured Vesti, a Mindanao-based brand founded by award-winning designer Martha Rodriguez.

Vesti, which came from the term bestida meaning “to dress or “to clothe,” grew out of the designer’s urge to breathe new life into a dwindling weaving community she accidentally stumbled upon in Laguindingan, Cagayan de Oro in 2012.

Since then, the brand has developed dramatically and is poised to expand its global presence.

The event showcased Vesti’s new men’s collection, which is inspired from London’s fast-paced lifestyle. This was something the designer observed during her brief stay in the city as she was completing her MSc in Fashion Business Creation from Glasgow Caledonian University – British School of Fashion London in 2017.

Also featured is the brand’s women’s line featuring bold and vibrant fabrics from the T’boli, Yakan, and Tausug communities.

Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio M. Lagdameo holds one of Martha Rodriguez’s designs which features bespoke Yakan weaves. The Ambassador received Rodriguez during a courtesy call on 11 September 2018. The designer shared with the Ambassador her experiences in partnering with Mindanao’s artisan communities and the place of Philippine textiles in global fashion. (Stacy Garcia photo)

Ms. Rodriguez works closely with Mindanao’s indigenous weaving communities such as the T’boli, Yakan, Tausug, and Maranao, among others. Throughout the development of each collection, Rodriguez spent time with the artisan communities whose weaves form the epicenter of each design.

In 2013, she visited the T’boli community in South Cotabato where she learned about the intricate process of weaving t’nalak from Lang Dulay, a T’boli princess who was recognized in 1998 as one of the Philippines’ National Living Treasures.

“Vesti is an homage to the rich cultural heritage of my home, Mindanao,” said Ms. Rodriguez, who named one of her masterpieces after Lang Dulay, a respected T’boli weaver who was named one of the Philippines’ National Living Treasures.

“Through my designs, I hope to let the world see the side of Mindanao that many of them have never imagined existed—one where art, culture, and heritage continues to thrive and enrich Southeast Asian culture,” she added.

During “The Embassy Previews,” the designer shared with the guests her experience in co-creating each piece with Mindanao’s artisan communities.

“The artisans are my partners and we both learn so much from each other. Each piece you see tonight is an attempt to weave together the dreams and aspirations of Mindanao’s indigenous communities and the hope of the new generation of Mindanaons for a community designed for peace,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

The next installment of “The Embassy Previews” will feature another sustainable Philippine fashion brand, which will be revealed by the Embassy in the succeeding London Fashion Week.

For more information, visit or and @philippinesinuk on Twitter.

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