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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

UP grad now a world-class designer promoting Pinoy culture

Leonora Luisa “Len” Cabili, a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, is now a world-class fashion designer who is committed to promoting Philippine culture through her international clothing brand "FILIP + INNA."

Aside from being a Clothing Technology graduate of UP, Cabili was also a former member of The Bayanihan Philippine National Dance Company, which became her avenue for her
love of tradition and dance.
During her years with the dance group, Cabili was drawn to their costumes which are often traditional Filipino wear.

These Philippine costumes exhibited intricate patterns and color combinations that are recognizably local and some, even tribal. 

These eventually became Cabili’s inspiration for her international brand FILIP + INNA, which she started in 2010.
Asked how she managed to make her clothing brand global, Cabili told GMA News Online that   “there are no shortcuts, work hard on creating the best product and always stay true to your vision and mission. Also, pray for opportunities.”
The FILIP + INNA line features designs exclusively embroidered and handcrafted by several
Filipino tribes, namely, the T’boli, Maranao, Gadang and B’laan.
Len incorporates these distinct Filipino elements with classic silhouetes to produce one-of-a-kind pieces.

She commissions tribal women to embellish, weave and embroider the clothes and since they are handcrafted, most patterns vary from one another.

FILIP + INNA items are also considered exclusive, making only a maximum of 10 pieces per design.
The uniqueness of the designs and the labor of love that goes to every piece are some of the brand’s formula that captured the international market, Cabili said.

“They appreciate the work that goes into each dress. They love the fact that it is made by hand and they enjoy hearing stories behind the brand. They are amazed at the work done by the different groups," Cabili shared.

"I am grateful and hopeful. The challenge to do better for each collection is constantly before us,” she said.

FILIP + INNA is a brand exclusively sold abroad through trunk shows, travelling souks and global sites.

It already boasts of a following in the United States for it has been around New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and The Hamptons.

FILIP + INNA also just finished a successful run of sales in neighboring Asian countries like Singapore. International designer, Tory Burch and American Socialite Amanda Hearts were recent patrons.

FILIP + INNA will also soon sell in Europe.

This year, it is launching a new accessory line and adding both a men’s line and a children’s line of clothing.
“The dream plan is to open a store in New York! Only God knows when that will happen - but I pray for it. There is so much hard work before that dream becomes a reality,” Cabili said.
FILIP + INNA not only helps in preserving the indigenous craft but also enriches the lives of tribal communities because portions of its sales go to funding a school for the tribes.
“I am inspired by anything Filipino. This is my main design philosophy," Cabili said. 

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