Fun, festive and comfortable enough to dance in all day.”
That’s what audiences can expect from new fashion brand Piopio, when it presents its “Barrio Fiesta” collection in its debut fashion show at Bench Fashion Week on Sept. 7, according to brand founder and designer Paloma Urquijo Zobel.
After Piopio’s love letter to local weavers and artisans in its initial offerings, Urquijo and her team have now come up with apparel and accessories that “reflect the spirit of traditional fiestas with the lifestyle of modern festivals.”
The favored material in Piopio’s first collection, inabel, the traditional fabric of Ilocos handwoven on wooden looms and typically used in blankets and bed linens, is still at the heart of the collection, “but we have fun mixing up the colors and designs and finding new ways to wear our local weaves,” Urquijo told Lifestyle.
“Weaves, patchwork and ikat patterns make a comeback. We have also explored unconventional denim stitching and treatments using local organic dyes and stitching from the south.”
Previously, Urquijo and team designed resortwear using inabel and Yakan fabrics, and also incorporated thrifted denim apparel with inabel for an upcycled take on the patchwork denim trend.
“We are constantly discovering new techniques and weaves around the country which we then apply to our pieces,” she said. “We source fabrics first and then design the pieces around the fabrics and not the other way around, in order to make sure we highlight the craftsmanship… We also try to implement a zero waste policy so we find ways to use our leftover fabrics, which is why a lot of our pieces feature patchwork.”
The Zobel scion, 26, who studied business administration and product design with a master’s in strategic marketing, launched the Piopio brand in late 2016, in the run-up to the opening of Lio, Ayala Land’s ecotourism development in Palawan. There, she and her mother, Bea Zobel Jr., are setting up an artisans’ village where Filipino artists and crafstmen can showcase and develop local crafts. It’s where Piopio’s flagship store is slated to open in 2018.
Urquijo is elated at the good reception of Piopio, which was also shown at a pop-up in New York City recently.
“We still get inspiration from traveling around the country, listening to our customers and most importantly collaborating with our local weavers and artisans to promote their craft,” she said.
“I’m extremely lucky that I have an amazing family who have been a constant resource throughout this process and who teach me along the way. I meet regularly with my cousin Mariana and brother Jaime to pick their brains and gain insights from their business perspectives, and I also consult with family friends such as Ino Manalo, whose knowledge of the history of this country points me in the right direction.”
But as with any fledgling brand, Piopio hasn’t been without challenges. “There’s been a lot of discussion recently surrounding culture appropriation, and we have been facing a few challenges in that realm,” Urquijo said. “My aim for Piopio is to shine a light on Filipino culture, and promote traditional textiles. Our challenge daily is to stay as truthful to our culture and traditions without offending anyone, but still making our pieces relevant and more accessible to a new generation.
“We truly feel that by allowing these textiles to take on more current shapes and forms, we are helping them to be enjoyed and shared by more individuals, than would be otherwise. We repurpose these textiles in the spirit of respect, and in an effort to keep our traditions alive and more relatable, while supporting our weavers.”
For announcements on its monthly pop-up stores, follow @piopio_ph on Instagram.