By Maya M. Padillo

DAVAO CITY — Global Shapers Community-Davao Hub, a network of young leaders which was started by the World Economic Forum, has taken a global campaign to link fashion and sustainability to Mindanao through “Unstitch: A Fashion and Sustainability Fair.” Jesse B. Madriaga of Global Shapers Davao said the definition of fashion has been changing, with more and more conversations revolving around clothing and accessories that “value people, planet, creativity, and profit in equal measures.”

“More than ever, there is a growing number of people who are becoming interested in how their clothes are made and the story behind it,” he said at the Kapihan sa Davao forum last week to promote the Unstitch fair which was held on April 27 and 28, at the Philippine Women’s College (PWC) of Davao and the Lara Mia Café and Bistro across the PWC campus.

The fair was timed to coincide with the global Fashion Revolution Week.

“We are doing this fair to take the global movement at the grassroots…,” said Dianna U. Santiago, another member of the Global Shapers Community, who noted that this was the first time that the fair was held in Davao, after previously having been held in Cebu and Manila. “We are trying to introduce these aspects (of sustainable fashion) to the Davaoeños, as well as serve as platform to meet other sustainability advocates,” she added.

The two cited as an example the Akaba brand, which works with different communities in the Philippines such as the T’boli in Mindanao and Ifugao in Luzon to produce bags and other items that are available at the Go Lokal stores in the country as well as being exported to the United States and Canada.

“When I posted these (Akaba products) on Facebook, a lot of Davaoeños wanted to buy it because it’s new,” Ms. Santiago said.

Mr. Madriaga said the growing market for sustainable designs is largely composed of the younger generation which is becoming more conscious of the link between sustainability and what they wear and other consumer goods they use.

“Sustainability is multifaceted, it includes cultural sustainability and being aware of the situation of indigenous people, and be aware of what they need to sustain (their culture and traditions),” Ms. Santiago said.

“We need to think of the long-term effects of our clothes and also the social aspect of sustainability: Who made our clothes, are they paid well, received benefits?” she added.

The fair featured pop-up shops, workshops, talks, and networking. One of the main activities of Unstitch over the weekend was the forum “Clothing and Community: Artisan Storytelling.”

This put the spotlight on Mindanao fashion makers such as Sesotunawa, a community of artisans and cultural workers who bring together the culture, arts, and stories of the T’bolis of Lake Sebu, and Nurainie D. Ampatuan, who describes herself as a “modest fashion” designer who celebrates her culture by incorporating Maguindanao’s traditional woven cloth, inaul, in her pieces.

“As most of us know, Mindanao has a lot to offer when it comes to cultural heritage. And to continue the enthusiasm and promote inaul, I made it as our brand (Hilyah’s) signature and combined it with imported materials,” Ms. Ampatuan said.

“I want to give more meaning on how we use or wear inaul and change the mindset of how our community (traditionally) wears it… And I think it is the best way to promote not just the product itself but also our identity as Maguindanaon and as a Muslim Filipino,” she said.