Filip + Inna is a social enterprise that partners with artisans from indigenous groups to create unique clothing and accessories. Each piece incorporates handmade traditional embroidery, weaving, and beadwork that are native to specific communities.
Upon its establishment in 2008, Lenora “Len” Cabili, founder and Creative Director, initially promoted the brand abroad. At that time, fast fashion largely dominated consumer behavior in the Philippines and she feared that the market would be unreceptive to high-end locally made apparel that may take weeks or months to finish. The decade that followed showed a gradual change in the behavior of Filipinos who started to embrace native products.
Presently, Filip + Inna has a network of 19 indigenous groups from all over of the archipelago, including the Gaddang from Cagayan Valley, Mangyan from Mindoro, and T’boli from South Cotabato. Len provides the garments and materials while the artisans are given free rein to use their imagination in their stitchwork, allowing them to breathe life into each piece.
Filip + Inna’s current roster of products include coats, dresses, shirts, trousers, shoes, and bags designed for the contemporary Filipina. They keep its distinctly Filipino flair intact, owing to the respectful application of time-honored artistic practices.
During the 2020 pandemic, Filip + Inna was fortunate that its supply and demand chains were not gravely affected. Len attributed this to the nature of slow fashion in that the focus is more on creation than on mere consumption. She was also grateful that the relationships they had built with clients over the years helped them weather uncertain times.
The crisis gave rise to surprising opportunities. Four months into the pandemic, Filip + Inna launched its e-commerce website. Through this, the brand is able to showcase and sell its ready-to-wear collection, something that it only used to do through trunk shows and pop up stores. Filip + Inna also introduced F + I, a Client Partnership Program wherein artisans forge creative relationships with clients to deliver tailored and made-to-order pieces. During this time, Len and her team were also able to map out future endeavors. For instance, a Home Line and a Men’s Collection are in the pipeline.
Even in the midst of less than favorable conditions, Len’s motivations remain the same: To sustain a means of livelihood for artists, preserve indigenous traditions, and ultimately uplift the lives of the people in the communities.