It’s not what you got It’s what you give It ain’t the life you choose shirt, hoodie, tank top

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5 min readFeb 22, 2021

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Blue long dress made using 100% handwoven Bagobo textile from CAMLU

Under-the-radar brands are gems in a world where one’s outfit is almost always a replica of another’s. One of the reasons why slow fashion labels, no matter how simple or elaborate, are intrinsically special is because they come in limited batches and made using purely hand crafted materials. So chances of running into someone wearing the exact same thing are slim to none. CAMLU is a fashion secret only accessible through its Instagram platform. Founded by creative director Luis Espiritu and fashion designer Camille Villanueva, the brand was created out of a desire to support sewers and makers who’d lost work during the pandemic. “Our sewers are our reasons for starting the brand,” said Luis.

Gray shift dress made using 100% handwoven Bagobo textiles by CAMLU

With access to precious textiles entirely handmade by various communities around the country, the duo envisioned a collection of resort pieces for a compact wardrobe edit. In upholding ideals of slow fashion, they thought to come up with designs that would cross over seasonality and geography. Dresses work beautifully both as a cover up on seashore excursions as they do for days in city. The same concept goes for tops and other garments highlighting traditional embroidery.

Apart from dresses, tops and tunics, CAMLU has become known among the well-heeled for introducing footwear designs that are ahead of its time. The brand works with makers from Aishe Footwear in Liliw, Laguna, creating pieces that you actually want to walk in all day. They are that comfortable, and molded as if to your foot’s specifications.. Long before the big brands began storming social media with their new take on nomad sandals, this well kept fashion secret was creating stripped sandals using Kalinga weaves in small batches. Working exclusively with abaca and woven fabrics, these pieces are the stuff of effortless sartorial style. More recently, CAMLU also launched a limited collection of Step-Ins (or in modern context, slides.) In staying consistent with their choice of woven materials, artisanal Inabel fabrics were this time utilized, highlighting vibrant color ways and remarkable patterns done solely by hand.

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Silk satin scarf from the Baul Collection of When I was doing my thesis on local fabrics, one of the experts who evaluated my work commented: “Your study lacks depth where textile design is concerned.” He expounded that without a strong textile design component, a local textile industry or business will never flourish. “It is necessary for brand identity and it is often overlook by other brands. They would rather buy finished fabrics — either in bulk or smaller quantities — and apply their designs on those.”

In the Philippines, you will be hard pressed to find a label that creates its own prints. There are only a handful and among the most impressive of this lot is fashion icon, photographer and now retail ingénue .is a visual album of memories, adventures and passions. “As real as it gets,” said the brand’s Instagram post. Her pieces are artistic narratives the hope to bring the past into our everyday lives, and a lot of it has to do with the creative process.

Digital prints for the Barong ni Tatay collection

Top with digital prints of photographs

Inspiration for collections are usually ignited by daily encounters spanning both the mundane and milestones. The launch of coffee table book, Fashionable Filipinas, for instance, saw the birth of her first collection, Baul. A trip down memory lane inspired a set of prints capturing details of the traditional barong. first few collections saw an application of her very own digital prints on satin silk scarves. The brand’s distinct approach for creating prints soon expanded into the creation of robes, tees and aprons. Silhouettes are decidedly easy and simple, which is very much a reflection of Joann’s distinct style sensibility. To create a sense of fluidity and elegance, works with Balotelli fabrics for the creation of its apparel. uses graphic printing to apply poignant photographs onto scarves and other garments.

Like photographs that live through the ages, colors and imagery of transport one to various eras and realms. One piece will bring back childhood memories of snooping around your grandmother’s chest, or sneaking in to try accoutrements from your mom boudoir. Then there are prints bursting with life, taking you to far off locales or secret gardens. does not follow seasonality or trend. Instead, the brand chooses to work instinctively, drawing from a rich well of experience: everyday life.

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