By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio, Special Features Writer

In the fashion scene, looking for pieces designed from locally and sustainably sourced materials has been increasingly minded by many consumers. But designers and weaving communities are faced with a dilemma concerning connection.

These were recognized by the co-founders of Panublix, therefore developing an idea of a sourcing platform that enables designers to connect with sustainable tropical textiles and artisan crafts by means of ‘transparent and impactful’ sourcing.

“The co-founders realized that most designers are having problems with sourcing local textiles since they have no connection with local artisans,” Panublix told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.

“Noreen Bautista, CEO [and co-founder of Panublix], lives in Iloilo City and has access to Hablon, the local fabric of Iloilo, which also made it easier for them to study and see the gaps in the textile industry,” the company added.

Iloilo was once known as the textile capital of the Philippines. Thus, Panublix got its name from the Hiligaynon word ‘panubli-on,’ which means ‘heritage.’

“Knowing that there are a lot of communities whose livelihood is weaving but has difficulties bringing their products to the market, while there are also designers who have problems with connecting to artisans led to the establishment of Panublix,” the company shared.

Panublix seeks to connect designers, local artisans, and sustainable materials in a single platform.

Designers are thus enabled to source and have direct access to sustainable raw materials and textiles as well as reach local artisans. It could also help them bring their designs to the international market.

Meanwhile, continuous orders could support the livelihood of local artisans, who are also provided access to sustainable raw materials. The platform also helps artisan communities to the digital world and gives an opportunity that could allow them to take their crafts to the local and international market — all while preserving their culture and heritage.

This then gives consumers access to sustainable designs and products, including learning about the background and culture of artisans who crafted the products and supporting their livelihoods.

Panublix has so far onboarded 23 partner community enterprises that include 10 weaving enterprises, eight artisan communities outside Western Visayas, two indigenous communities, two garment makers, and one raw material fiber supplier. During the pandemic, the startup has helped generate 284 jobs.

The service of Panublix has also expanded since its founding in 2020, and it already has plans to innovate further.

“From the narrative of simply bridging the gap between designers, local textile, and artisans craft through transparent and impactful sourcing, Panublix recognized that there is first the need to solve the problems with raw materials and its sustainability to be able to be competitive globally,” the company said.

In partnership with the Department of Science and Technology — Philippine Textile Research Institute, it has access to Philippine-made yarns and weaves, which are 100% Philippine cotton, cotton-abaca, and cotton-piña.

And apart from weaving yarns, it has extended to crochet yarns and began its first Craft Jam, in cooperation with the Philippine Fashion Coalition.

The startup is also preparing to launch a collaborative service with designers providing customized designs, a new product called Co-design.

And to further support designers and artisans to set up and grow their online commerce presence and get access to raw materials, Panublix raises funds to carry out the Panublix Weaving Enterprise Digital Enabler (PWEDE), which could also help connect to global markets.

Based in Iloilo, Panublix wants to promote and innovate the handweaving culture from its heritage. It looks to see a thriving Philippine tropical textile and artisan craft economy by 2030.

The startup can also set the stage for sustainable fashion. According to Panublix, the long-term goal is to shift from polyester and make way for using natural fibers in the fashion industry.

“One of the core values of Panublix is innovation and it aims to create a more sustainable future, thus it would continuously better its service and offerings with respect to culture, humanity, and biodiversity,” the startup said.