Former trade official unveils t’ nalak’ clutch bags

Mar 11, 2014 | 0 comments

By Cheche V. Moral
Philippine Daily Inquirer | August 24, 2012

Entrepreneur and former DTI Undersecretary Carissa Cruz Evangelista gets congressional spouses to model her products on the Ultimate Pinoy red carpet.

It was good an opportunity as any. The congressional spouses were all gathered for the State of the Nation Address, and Carissa Cruz Evangelista thought it would be a good time to unofficially unveil her pet project, a line of clutches using indigenous materials, which she began selling in May at Kultura, SM Department Store’s specialty handicrafts shop.

Evangelista, daughter of Rep. Gina de Venecia and herself a former undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, charmed the women, all dressed in their Filipiniana best, to model the bags for her camera. The congressional spouses gamely played along.

Evangelista had worked with the regional operations group of DTI while she was undersecretary, touring the countryside and meeting small communities that produced indigenous crafts. On those trips, she came across different weaves of t’nalak, an indigenous fabric made from abaca by South Cotabato’s T’boli tribe, and found them quite interesting.

When she left office, the entrepreneurial woman approached SM; she wanted to sell a line of purses made of t’nalak and other indigenous materials. Working with a foreign consultant with inputs from SM, Evangelista proceeded to develop the line, to create clutches that are “young and world-class”.

Not so Traditional

“We wanted to use different weaves so they don’t look so traditional,” she says. T’nalak is material that’s widely used in fashion and home accessories. But Evangelista’s goal was to create a line like “something you would see in New York and Paris but is made in the Philippines”. The bags are made by different manufacturers in Mindanao, and are now available in major SM branches. Since May Evangelista has produced 16 designs in a variety of colors. She also uses banig and jute materials. She’s also developing bags and accessories using Philipine calf leather and fish leather, surplus fish skin from tilapia and parrotfish.

“I think everyone in the Philippines should proactively buy Filipino and own things made in the Philippines.” she says. “Buying Filipino creates jobs and feeds families.”

This niece of international fashion designer and entrepreneur Josie Natori disagrees that if it’s made locally, it’s design is also “ethnic”, and therefore, would appeal only to tourists and balikbayans.

“Fashion is about individual style,” Evangelista says. “We could pair a clutch made in the Philippines with a foreign brand-name belt and locally branded jeans. How we put together our outfit reflects our individual style.”

Read the full article with Congressional Spouses Photo Shoot

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