Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Kiculo Crafts: The Pandan Bag Ladies

For the ladies who lunch, the woven pandan bags of Kiculo would probably be fodder for the day’s topic.  Angular, roomy, lightweight, organic and elegantly embellished with crochet, faux pearls, or shiny metal pieces, or combined with genuine leather,  Kiculo bags exhibit the craftsmanship the artisans of Negros are known for. 

Kiculo, which is a combination of the first two letters of the creator’s names (Kitkat Cusi Lobaton), was born in 2003 to provide a source of livelihood for weavers in the family farm in Victorias City.   The farmhands underwent training in the art of weaving using pandan leaves as its primary material.  High quality was a foremost consideration for the finished products while sustainability was the motivation to continue producing the brand’s distinctive designs.

Today, the same standard and motivation guide the company’s direction in the fashion industry.  Fifty to eighty percent of the materials must be locally sourced while labor should be one hundred percent local.  The bags are colored with ecologically-friendly dyes.  

Kiculo’s bags are categorized as Office Accessories which include satchels,  envelope bags that are ample enough to hold documents, and even iPad cases; Casual that has shoulder bags and handbags; and Formal for clutch bags.  As a member of the Association of Negros Producers, Kiculo had opportunities to join the Negros Trade Fair in Manila, and its products have always been popular among the upper crust. 

Kiculo bags are luxury, hand-crafted pieces.  These are artisanal products that harness creativity as much as the weaver’s skill in producing classic pieces an elegant woman would be proud to carry.  A bag, for example the “Isabel”, an envelope bag, takes two days to weave, one day to dye, and one day for finishing.  Bags take from five to seven days to make; a wallet, two days.   There are also chic tote bags made from genuine leather sourced from a Bulacan tannery.

It takes three full-time weavers, and about eight to twelve seasonal or part-time workers to keep the business going.  Workers are paid per piece and, to fulfill their vision to “create an innovative fashion with compassion”, bag linings are outsourced to workers in Gawad Kalinga (GK) Handumanan. 

Visitors to the Annual Negros Trade Fair at the Glorietta in September would be pleased to know that the faux pearl-accented bags and the bags with handles of laminated patadyong (indigenous hand-woven checkered fabric) are available there.  These are Kiculo’s most popular items among its twenty-five collections which cater to hip pretty young things to fashion-conscious women who have arrived.  May these women not forget that each lovingly crafted accessory fulfills the weavers’ hopes and wishes as they realize their own.

Written by Betsy Gazo

31st Negros Trade Fair "One Sweet Spot"
September 14-16, 2016, 
Glorietta Mall, Makati


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Author & Editor

The Negros Trade Fair is the longest running provincial trade fair in the Philippines held annually in Metro Manila since 1985.

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