DOST-PTRI Co-organized SewsTELAbility: A Fashion, Sustainability, and Textile-related Discourse, and Workshops
By: Sharmainne Rhey B. Caoili
Technology Transfer, Information and Promotions Staff
The Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST – PTRI) joined the Fashion Revolution Philippines and Wear Forward in sewing together SewsTELAbility, a two-day session of a webinar, and a sewing workshop promoting sustainability in textiles and fashion, in time for National and International Earth Day celebrations.
This event, conducted on April 22-23, 2021, is part of a global and annual campaign for the Fashion Revolution Week with the theme, “Rights, Relationships and Revolution”. The annual event seeks to raise awareness of the fashion industry’s critical problems while advocating for ethical and sustainable practices for fashion.
The first-day SewsTELAbility event featured the sub-theme “Innovations and Initiatives Toward Sustainable Textiles” with representatives from the government, MSMEs, NGOs, and the academe gathered to discuss the various takes, issues, actions, and plans toward local and sustainable textile production and consumption.
The government’s action, through the DOST-PTRI, was presented by Dir. Celia B. Elumba. The relevant technologies and services that promote local and natural textile production were discussed as they form part of the TELA (Textiles Empowering Lives Anew) Pilipinas ecosystem of soil-to-skin textile production and use. Dir. Elumba shared the Insitute’s initiatives, innovations, and continuous support mechanisms for the local textile industry.
This was further supported by Mr. Michael Claparols of Creative Definitions, representing the MSMEs, who highlighted the enterprise’s current and upcoming products, such as the Lakat Sustainable Sneakers shown below. Its development was made possible through their partnership with the DOST-PTRI, and other government agencies. With this support and the linkages to local raw material suppliers and handloom weavers, Creative Definitions has been able to come up with innovations as they tap local sources and skills and hope for the support of Filipinos, here and abroad.
Ms. Tere Arigo of Fashion Revolution represented the non-government organization, while fashion educator Ms. Irene Subang of School of Fashion and the Arts (SOFA) and iAcademy, and Ms. Sharen Jose, brand-owner of Tasia, represented the academe. The panel discussion among them talked about their initiatives in promoting sustainability through their campaigns and teachings.
A sewing workshop capped the second day of the event. The Basic Sewing and Upcycling or refashioning workshop, which was attended by students and fashion enthusiasts wanting to learn how to stitch, sew, mend, and upcycle, also showed techniques to prolong the life of fashion items and to create new textile products instead of throwing them away to become textile waste. The participants were instructed to prepare the materials before the conduct of the workshop, which made it possible for them to work on their versions alongside the demonstration of the resource person. Ms. Jose started the demonstration with different basic hand stitches, the foundation of the various sewing activities for the day, before proceeding with the making of the face mask. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Face Mask Workshop was incorporated to teach participants how they can use their spare and scrap fabrics to make their very own face masks, an essential face covering to protect against microbes and particulates in the air.
Ms. Evangeline Manalang of DOST-PTRI, Head of Technology Transfer, Information and Promotions Staff, discussed the initiatives and services that the Institute undertakes to respond to the pandemic. In particular, she discussed the REwear Face Mask Made Smart Project, face mask testing services, and the Textile Product Development Center’s digital production services, including the Face Mask Resource Kit with the Tech Pack, which were referenced by Ms. Jose for the face mask pattern and the conduct of the facemask-making workshop.
Finally, Ms. Subang discussed pre-and post-consumer textile wastes and upcycling before she started the refashioning workshop. She demonstrated the techniques on the use of scrap fabrics to make flower-patterned fabrics for accessories and fabric design.
During the Question-and-Answer part of the program, it was noted that local and sustainable textiles are not readily accessible to the market. The audience was reminded to equip themselves with the knowledge and information about what sustainability really means and how they can further support and stand for its cause.
As Dir. Elumba advised, “It’s easy for us to say that we are for sustainability, but to what extent? I have simple criteria: Take a look at (the label and) what the content is. If it is made of material that is not going to be what you will consider environmentally friendly, don’t buy it even if it’s cheap, beautiful, and fits you nicely. Take a position. Second is, you also have to layer criteria. Do I want to put the money in that country or in that province? Your choice. No one will tell you what to do. You have to therefore impose it upon yourself. If you want to call yourself a sustainable fashion warrior. The third is you buy for good. Buy things that last that have meaning that has value. You become a mindful consumer, and you live within those norms and those terms. We start with what is available, but it takes effort at ‘yong effort na ‘yon, may kapatid ‘yon na value o halaga.”