Whether it's a fashion statement or a vessel for your things, a bag is a vital accessory. You bring it with you wherever you go that it may as well be your best friend. And, just like a BFF, you want your purse to have substance. It's more than mere canvas or leather sewn together to hold your key essentials.
If you want your bag to be a little extra, the good news is that you don’t have to look far. There are several bags proudly and wonderfully made by Filipino brands that put local creativity and craftsmanship at the forefront.
Take the case of bag labels such as Aranáz, headed by Amina Aranaz-Alunan. This Filipino designer counts royalty among her clientele, including Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium, who owns several Aranáz clutches. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands also owns Aranáz creations, including the bestselling Rags2Riches collaboration whose backstory she loved.
While these are definitely top-of-the-line Filipino labels, they are hardly the ones. Other homegrown bags champion local craftsmanship and creativity while making a difference. In a way, these Filipino brands share similar qualities to the classic Pinoy trope of making it abroad thanks to their talent, hard work, and ingenuity.
Add some local flair to your wardrobe or bag collection and check out these Filipino brands that give you every reason to be proud of the tag “Made in the Philippines.”
As one of the first Filipino brands to set foot on the global stage, Rags2Riches proves that style and sustainability can coexist. Founded by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, the label started as a social enterprise that empowers women from the impoverished community of Payatas to weave and create bags from upcycled, overstock cloth and indigenous fabrics. These days, Rags2Riches is one of the most popular Filipino fashion retailers.
Esteemed designers such as Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz-Alunan are some of its passionate supporters, lending their skills to the brand. Rajo designed the Stella Clutch, a handwoven evening bag that costs less than PhP2,000, while Amina designed its most-loved piece, the Buslo hobo bag that is less than PhP3,000 (mid-sized).
Well-loved for its stylish waxed canvas and leather bags that are popular among urban creatives and weekend adventurers, Gouache has made its mark offering locally made bags and accessories that are created with a high level of craftsmanship. From its crowdfunding beginnings in 2013, Gouache has grown into an admired lifestyle brand that provides livelihood to bag makers and artisans from Marikina.
Zarah Juan’s designs have burst into the scene with her chic and unique pieces inspired by facets of Filipino culture. Her woven bags are wearable art and feature intricate and character-filled designs that highlight their handcrafted nature. Some examples include the well-loved Jeepney Tote and the Takatak Bag, which takes the shape of a horse. Every piece is born out of a collaboration among different artisan communities, which encourages younger generations to keep weaving and handicraft traditions alive.
https://zarahjuan.com/pages/frontpage – Zarah Juan
Husband-and-wife team Migs and Bunnie de Guzman are proud to acknowledge the artisans from Marikina who craft their bags. Known for their frequent appearances in pop-up events around the metro, Ni-QUA, whose bags are made of 95% locally sourced raw materials, has grown to become one of the most popular Filipino leather brands.
Purchase items under its Scarte collection (which chicly uses leather scraps) and you can help make a difference. Part of the proceeds is donated to Real Life Foundation, which holds feeding programs every Saturday for impoverished children ranging from three to 14 years old.
Ni-QUA’s bag prices range from PhP2,600 to Php6,000.
Ni QUA Leather Bags Bespoke Accessories Manila Philippines (ni-qua.com)
Want genuine leather items without the hefty price tag? Check out Katre, a local leather goods brand that boasts high-quality craftsmanship and materials. Katre offers a wide range of styles, including hip backpacks at PhP7,300, classic totes at PhP5,500, and evening clutches at PhP2,500.
Katre also partnered with Kids’ Journey and Life Coach, Inc. to create an ethical tote –– 100% of the profits go to children with special needs and autism so they can continue to attend therapies as part of early intervention.
katre brand | chic leather goods (shopkatre.com)
Creative, innovative, and resilient –– these Filipino brands represent the best of the Pinoy spirit, especially as they make waves overseas. It's not far-fetched to consider them modern heroes, as they provide much-needed support and livelihood opportunities for local artisans who keep our traditions alive.
These Filipino brands share common qualities with another set of modern-day heroes – OFWs who work hard, endure sacrifices, and use their skills and talents to achieve success overseas. At the end of the day, even heroes need sidekicks, such as an insurance and investment plan that secures their family’s future and well-being even when they’re abroad. FWD's Family Hero plan protects your family at home from unexpected health-related setbacks, while providing passive income that has the potential to grow your family’s wealth.