The interest in handmade items by local artisans continues to grow, even with the popularity of mass-produced apparel and home furnishings. Discerning buyers gravitate to handcrafted pieces—whether loomed, beaded or embroidered—and are willing to pay more for these limited editions.
“They’re more interested in finding more about the makers and where they’re from,” said Cedie Lopez-Vargas, one of the organizers and curators of ArteFino, the annual selling event to be held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at 8 Rockwell, Makati.
There will be over 70 exhibitors selling a wide range of items, from brass-handle t’nalak serving trays and banig-pattern clutches to beaded jackets by a tribe in Davao and personalized floral-print stationery.
Visitors can interact with the makers.
“The younger generation is willing to spend on products they know will provide income and livelihood or help keep a tradition of handmade products alive. One school has even scheduled a field trip to ArteFino for over 100 of its high school students because the teachers see the value of learning about social entrepreneurship,” Lopez-Vargas told Lifestyle.
She and members of the ArteFino committee recently flew to Davao to meet with the Bagobo Tagabawa tribe whose intricate beadwork will adorn jackets to be sold in the fair.
“Since we moved out of the Museum Foundation (which mounted the annual MaArte fair), the focus of our advocacy has turned to local communities. We’ve chosen to focus on the Bagobo Tagabawa through our HeArteFino Development Program,” she said.
Entrepreneur Zarah Juan, who has worked with the tribe on footwear and accessories for her own brand, was the first recipient of the program grant.
This time, she designed jackets that were beaded by the tribe.
“The pieces will be presented by Juan and the Zonta Club in the fair,” Lopez-Vargas said, adding that they “intend to sustain this engagement with our pilot community.”
The four-day event will have a wider range of apparel and accessories for men, even if the buyers are predominantly women. Lopez-Vargas noted how the men last year were “clamoring” for more choices.
“These men, including ABS-CBN’s chair emeritus Gabby Lopez, my brother Federico Lopez (chair and CEO of First Philippine Holdings) and Sen. Sonny Angara, are opinion makers and influencers in their line of work,” Lopez-Vargas said.
For the men, she and the other ArteFino organizers, including Susie Quiros, Marimel Francisco, Maritess Pineda and Armita Rufino, chose exhibitors whose product range includes handcrafted items.
“Our male customers don’t know that they need it yet, but when they see it, they’ll know,” Lopez-Vargas said.