Reuse, Repurpose, and Regenerate: ArteFino Festival 2023 Continues to Champion Local Craftsmanship

August 15, 2023

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By 

Rick Formalejo

ArteFino Festival 2023 is coming back for another edition starting from August 24 to 27, 2023 at The Fifth at Rockwell and the North Court at the Powerplant Mall. The most awaited artisanal fair continues its commitment in championing local creativity, heritage, and craft. This year, the festival will showcase more than 130 Philippine brands from fashion, home, design, and lifestyle categories with theme: Reuse, Repurpose, and Regenerate. 

From the time of ArteFino’s inauguration in 2017, the artisanal fair positions itself as a cultural movement meant to evolve, inspire, and grow. It has championed Philippine creativity, heritage, and craft by nurturing an inclusive community that has continuously expanded throughout the years. 

ArteFino’s festival grounds have served as a launch pad for countless local designers, social enterprises, and emerging sustainable brands. It has also welcomed and nurtured a new generation of conscious consumers. The movement have empowered Filipino makers, designers, brand owners, and communities to tap into a wide network of like-minded individuals that share a passion for promoting Filipino design and craftsmanship.

Founders of the ArteFino movement, Cedie Vargas, Marimel Francisco, Maritess Pineda, Mita Rufino and Susie Quiros observe: “Over the years, we’ve seen the market grow. Younger consumers are now more conscious about purchasing locally-made products that create positive impact–socially, environmentally, and culturally.” They also emphasize the key role that ArteFino vendors play in the movement’s success. “Our partner brands are important to the growth of our community. They are always at the back of our minds when we put together the ArteFino Festival. Throughout the year, we are also looking out for new brands.”

Participating brands of ArteFino also pay homage to the archipelago’s rich history of craft through contemporary designs that emphasize the global wearability of time-honored Filipino weaves and fabrics.

Fashion, Design, and Flavors at The Fifth and North Court

The Barracks, a dedicated space for men curated by Ram Lopez-Vito Bucoy, will showcase 12 emerging Filipino brands. It will present a fresh new take on men’s fashion and lifestyle, highlighting Philippine craftsmanship. Ram shares, “The Barracks this year is a world traveler’s closet. When you travel a lot, you want your space to be a place that is relaxing and restful, but with pieces that remind you of your travels. The Barracks will be a place filled with eclectic and colorful memories that remind you of exciting places.”

Hand-picked selections by the ArteFino team will be on feature at the ArteFino Finds booth. The ArteFino team expounds, “Finds is a space for brands that we felt would add variety to our offerings.” Filipino flavors also make up the complete experience this year as 12 homegrown food concepts join the festivities. These include, among others, The Seven Pantry and Gourmet Garage.

According to Susie Quiros, the festival’s theme of reuse, recycle,and regenerate also informs how the festival grounds are designed and built. “When able, we do our best to apply the same ideas to our signages, decor and other materials used to dress the event.” She adds that the fairgrounds serves as a continuation of the main display showcase.

A Tribute to The Grand Dame Of Piña Fabric and Philippine Fashion, Patis Tesoro

ArteFino’s founders disclose, “A tribute vignette when you step into The Fifth will tie all of this in.” Conceptualized and designed by acclaimed scenographer and costume designer Gino Gonzalez, the lobby entrance will be transformed into a harvest field that traces the journey of craft—from the time Patis Tesoro paved the way for the preservation of ethnic Filipino clothing up to the present. “It revolves around harvest or a kaban. But instead of ani or agricultural produce, it’s some of the best Philippine crafts gathered by ArteFino in one space.”

Marimel Francisco ponders, “Patis Tesoro was an impetus and inspiration for our movement and our vendors.” The founders all agree that a tribute to the Grand Dame of Piña Fabric and Philippine Fashion would set the tone for unique ArteFino Festival experience in 2023. Fitting forms dressed in iconic, one-of-a-kind pieces by Patis Tesoro will be exhibited with hand woven hammocks as its backdrop. An island of bilao’s (circular hand woven trays) float over rice fields containing showcase pieces from the festival. The opposite wall will feature more key pieces from new collections of participating brands, framed by hand woven trays.

The walkthrough space takes the guests through the past, present, and future. It captures how the work of Patis Tesoro first planted the seeds for Philippine fashion and its heritage of craft. And through platforms like the ArteFino festival, the noble and prolific work of the Grand Dame continues to grow, multiply, and reap more harvest. Gino muses, “Hopefully it resonates as a celebratory space–one that feels uplifting.” Enlisting Gino to work on the vignette was a lot like finding a perfect match for the ArteFino team. Susie affirms, “He immediately understood our DNA and what we are all about.”

HeArteFino: The Heart and Soul of the Festival

Tireless advocacy for craft and community remains the centerpiece for the ArteFino movement. According to the founders, “The HeArteFino advocacy has helped us to grow. It is also what anchors us in all that we do.” It has also inspired innovation and collaboration among members of the community to share in the mission of supporting artist-entrepreneurs and partner communities.

Proceeds from the ArteFino festival and its ticket sales will go to to The HeArteFino Foundation and its programs. These go to fund and invest in chosen communities around the country. Cedie emphasizes that programs of the foundation are long-term. “When we partner with communities or makers, our aim is to empower them to run sustainable businesses. Our collaborations run for several years so that we establish long term relationships and create real impact.”

Beneficiaries of HeArteFino’s development program include beaders of the Bagobo Tagabawa community from Davao and fabric weavers of Kabankalan in Negros Occidental. HeArteFino has more recently set its eyes on the future of zero-waste textiles. In 2019, they reached out to Anya Lim of Anthill and the weavers of Argao in Cebu to explore the many possibilities of zero-waste textiles in the fashion, design, and lifestyle space.

Output from partnerships forged under the HeArteFino development program are refined and developed into retail pieces that also make their way to the trade fairs. It’s the circular nature of the foundation and its programs that allow and fuel long-term, sustainable partnerships. Susie elaborates, “For the first time, we are immersing deeply in the entire supply chain. This year, we found ourselves working closely with both makers and the designer.”

TELAStory, a design, sourcing and manufacturing collective, created garments for the collection. Susie adds, “We also worked with women artisans of Tondo and makers from Not A Day Dream for the accessories and bags.” For the team, the experience of putting together this year’s HeArteFino collection was a learning experience that allowed them to delve deeper into the process.

This year, the HeArteFino booth will showcase deadstock fabrics from Anthill and Great Women. Marimel furthers, “We commissioned Carol de Leon of Angkan World to create a collection using fabrics from Anthill and Great Women.” After a visit to Argao in Cebu, the founders felt compelled to find a way to support the community. “We saw all the inventory that needed to be unloaded so that they could continue working.” Products created through HeArteFino are continuous works in progress that take on various forms and iterations each festival. They are a testament to the spirit of innovation that both the foundation and movement endeavors to foster.

The ArteFino Experience Beyond the Fifth

Other areas of the Powerplant Mall will also showcase ArteFino’s curation for home as well as the inspired Maker’s Lab at the Edades Lounge (near Zara). “The North Court of the Powerplant Mall will be a space for all of our home and lifestyle products,” says the founders. “Home is such an important sector we feel should be highlighted at the festival.” The section also puts the spotlight on ideals of Filipino craft and heritage, but in the context of modern living spaces.

Brands located at the North Court include Abel.ph, Amparo’s Apothecary, BalaiKamay, C&C, Caro Wilson, HoliCOW, Katha, LARA Samar, Larone Artisans, Likha-Mundo, Pinky Lizares, Pulido, Sustainably Made, The Fine Life Market, Touch of Craft, TravelFund by SiriusDan, and Uswag Artesano X Abre Linea.

Maker’s Lab, an ArteFino initiative that engages and opens the floor for the entire creative community ushers in a new chapter in their on-going upcycle challenge. This year, however, the theme will focus on “The Modern Filipino’s Pamana.” Mounted in partnership with Security Bank, this year’s Maker’s Lab will highlight heritage stories told through craft, design, and use of upcycled materials. “The previous Maker’s Lab resulted in inspired output from our makers. This year, we want to highlight this, especially since the theme pushes our maker’s creativity and vision.”

With all the many highlights and activities that will unfold during ArteFino Festival 2023, the founders advise, “Breathe. Take your time and stay inquisitive.” The four-day event will unveil countless artisanal finds, products, ideas and stories to enjoy. “It’s a cultural experience and the only way to enjoy it is to marinate in the moment. Every product will tell a story. When you discover the journey of each product, they become even more special and unique.”

Photos Courtesy of ArteFino

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