Manansala’s granddaughter teams up with fashion accessories designer for collection
MANILA — What happens when a fashion accessory maker collaborates with an artist of distinguished lineage and unique talent?
Gina Nebrida Ty of Agsam Fashion Fern and one of the founding members of Fashion Accessories Manufacturers of the Philippines (FAMPh), recently unveiled her impressive line of products featuring the unique artwork of Khristina Manansala, granddaughter of national visual artist, Vicente Manansala.
The Agsam Fern x k.Manansala capsule collection symbolizes and inspires hope and resilience in the face of the pandemic. Both brands share a deep passion for timeless handcrafted designs that truly represent Filipino craftsmanship and ingenuity.
Each Agsam x k.Manansala handbag, beautifully and painstakingly handwoven by indigenous women of Surigao del Sur, features Manansala canvas as she personally hand-paints her timeless artwork onto each Agsam bag. Fern.
Ty came across Manansala’s works in August 2020, through a mutual friend who posted some of the latter’s works on Facebook.
“I was so impressed with her unique and stunning artwork that I immediately called our mutual friend and the same day I got to meet Khristina, digitally,” Ty recalled.
“She was immediately enthusiastic when I floated the idea of collaborating with her to use my fashion accessories as a canvas. My goal was to create beautiful masterpieces of bags that are not only functional, but also worth collecting, just like a collector’s artwork.
The collaboration happened sooner than expected by Ty and Manansala. “The day I met Khristina and spoke to her on the phone, I shared with her that the concept would be rooted in a woman’s resilience, strength and hope, so very timely in these trying times. And that this collection is also about women helping women,” Ty explained.
Since this is Ty’s first collection of handcrafted bags, her fashion accessories being mostly custom jewelry, she asked Manansala to specifically create images of women’s faces that would inspire and invoke resilience and hope.
“After a few prototypes, we created three distinctive hand-painted images that beautifully portray a woman’s strength and resilience, while embracing her grace and feminine side,” Ty said.
“For example, one of the hand-painted bags called Redonda [round in Spanish], has a captivating hand painted image of a woman with a fish on her face. It may sound abstract, but it’s Khristina’s creative genius at work, as she translates my design concept into a beautiful work of art.
“The fish on the woman’s face represents the job of a fisherman and that any woman can take a job as a fisherman or any job, if she wants to. So, the artwork portrays the beauty and grace of every woman, but beyond that beauty is her reliability and her ability to survive, despite the odds.
Collaborating with Manansala has been an exciting experience for Ty. “Our shared ideas and concept always resulted in beautiful prototypes, so much so that it was hard to choose the best piece of art because they were all just stunning.”
Before talking to Manansala on the phone, Ty researched the artist’s paintings and immediately fell in love with her works. Manansala’s works have graced various exhibitions in other countries. She describes her style of painting as “bold and fearless”, resulting in incredibly exquisite works of art.
“Although her artistry is in her DNA, being the granddaughter of national artist and illustrator and cubist painter, Vicente Manansala, I was impressed by Khristina’s style of painting – bold and fearless,” pointed out Ty.
“His subjects were often focused on women. It is no wonder that his paintings end up in private art collections, both in the Philippines and abroad. She has also participated in various exhibitions in New York, Germany and Malaysia.
However, this is not the first time that Ty has worked with an artist for his creations. Three years ago, she released a heritage-inspired collaboration with National Living Treasure (Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan, or GAMABA) award winner Eduardo “Mang Ed” Mutuc, considered the country’s finest metal craftsman.
“Called the Agsam x Mutuc collection, the works translated Mang Ed’s concept of the value of Filipino heritage and craftsmanship into excellent pieces of metal art that served as embellishments for my necklaces and bracelets Agsam,” Ty said.
The limited edition collection was well received as stocks of Ty products at SM’s Philippine Kultura stores and Manila’s FAME (Furnishings and Apparel Manufacturers’ Exchange) exhibition were sold out by the time they went on display.
As the fashion industry was hit hard by the pandemic last year, with trade shows and exhibitions cancelled, as well as the intermittent closure of retail stores, Ty’s initial fear was how to keep his business going. afloat.
“The new normal would mean low production of our handcrafted accessories,” she admitted. “So providing a sustainable income for my artisans will be a challenge. So I immediately had to find a way to make our products easily accessible, while still being visually appealing to our customers, while still being safe in the comfort of your home.
“As my company produces on demand, it was also difficult to outsource locally produced raw materials due to ECQ [enhanced community quarantine] and travel restrictions.
“But it didn’t dampen our spirits, as we sat down with our workers and told them we had to do an AFC – Adapt, Find Ways and Carry On. And going on, we did that by instantly boosting our digital presence, first and foremost.
As fashion brands were impacted by the cancellation of trade shows and everyone was forced to adjust to the new normal, Ty viewed the ups and even downs of business as a learning curve for her.
“It was imperative that our brand be more visible than it was before the pandemic,” she explained. “Before the pandemic, while we had active social media accounts, there was no shopping experience.
“My products were readily available at the nation’s largest retail chain, SM’s Kultura Filipino, where our products were displayed in 12 key branches nationwide, for the past six years.
“With the new normal, we have created a seamless shopping experience (www.agsamfashionfern.com) to ensure that our valued customers can easily purchase their favorite Agsam Fern fashion accessories from the comfort of their homes.”
Ty was forced to redirect its marketing efforts. “B2B [business to business] to B2C [business to consumers]“, she argued. “The old way of doing business is not going to resume any time soon, if at all. So those who will survive and thrive will be those who watch carefully and immediately adapt in ways to function given this new normal.
As customer preferences and behavior shifted towards the new normal, Ty’s Agsam Fern strengthened its digital presence. “We also created a collection that would be relevant and functional for the times,” she explained.
It is for this reason that the Agsam x k.Manansala capsule collection was born. “Besides our artisan Agsam Fern bags which are hand painted with Khristina’s vibrant artwork, we have also released limited edition art care kits and tote bags or simply called We-Care set.
“The care kit, featuring digitally printed artwork by Vicente and Khristina Manansala, includes a washable neoprene face mask and three personalized bottles that can be used for personalized alcohol, hand sanitizer and hand lotion.
“While the black tote bag that can be used to store your PPE [personal protective equipment] set or other essentials, also comes with a washable neoprene face mask and a pair of removable Agsam Fern earrings, for added style and pop-art style, which you can also wear anytime. The tote bag and face mask have the same digitally printed artwork of Khristina Manansala.
Ty insists she was compelled to continue creating “products with purpose” through her new collection, as she always had been. “But this time, to make our customers understand and appreciate more that when they buy Agsam Fern products, they are not only helping a community of artisans, but they are also helping us to preserve and promote our magnificent heritage and our culture,” she said.
“The new normal has also seen increased consumer interest and patronage in sustainable products. So our brand’s unique history of creating charming fashion accessories made from sustainable materials and using a 45-year-old weaving heritage is also how we stay meaningfully relevant.
“Consumers are now buying less, but buying better quality products that are tailored to their needs, so this is where Agsam Fern stands out. We are and always have been clear with our brand ethos and unique selling proposition and it has served us quite well, in the midst of the pandemic.
Ty also highlighted the rise of work from home as part of the new normal mode. “We saw this as an opportunity for Agsam Fern to further promote our collars.
“I call it the era and power of ‘self-adornment’, as fashion-conscious consumers try to look their best in online business meetings or virtual get-togethers with family and friends. their friends. So, most of our social media posts focus on vibrant necklaces and how they can be worn in different ways.
Gina Nebrida Ty, Agsam Fashion Fern, Philippine fashion accessories makers, Khristina Manansala, Vicente Manansala, bags, fashion