A Glimpse Into the Future of Filipino Fashion: These Ifugao Weaves Will Soon Be Available As NFTs

NFTs or non-fungible tokens have stolen the spotlight in the recent return of the fashion weeks of Paris, Milan, London, and New York. Some say it’s just a passing fad. For Kandama CEO and Creative Director Victor Baguilat Jr., it is “the future of Filipino fashion.”

Kandama, is a social enterprise on a mission to preserve the tradition of handloom weaving and provide opportunities for women in Julongan village in Kiangan, Ifugao. It applies commercial strategies to make its social impact sustainable. As such, Baguilat has announced that it is set to launch its own collection of artisanal fashion NFTs.

NFT refers to a digital asset that is unique and non-interchangeable. One sort of enters the asset into a blockchain technology that forever keeps it in record that a document, an artwork, or, in this case, a digital twin of a fashion piece is an original and doubtless owned by the artist or buyer.

During the showcase of his latest collection, “The Emancipation of Maria Clara,” at the New York Fashion Week in Manhattan last September 9, 2022, Baguilat realized how NFTs can further promote the masterpieces of Ifugao weavers and the deep tradition of their community.

“There were three other brands that just launched their NFT collection. When I heard that some brands that are familiar to me started doing NFTs, that’s when I realized that maybe that’s really the right direction,” Baguilat said in an online forum last October 19.

Baguilat is partnering with Filipino-led blockchain firm Tetrix to produce the digital twins of some indigenous fashion pieces like those worn by beauty queen Pia Wurtzbach for her Vogue Italia feature, and those that were showcased during the past Paris Fashion Week, Melbourne Fashion Week, and several global fashion events.

Baguilat says turning to Web3 and blockchain technologies will make their pieces more widely accessible, and owners of the iconic pieces can bring their designs into the metaverse.

Each Kandama NFT has its own unique code, proving the authenticity of the physical garment it represents and reflecting its lifetime journey from raw material to design and from sale to resale and recycling. Additionally, the Tetrix-powered digital wallet Pitaka will be used for the settlement of transactions and will be the official carrier of the Kandama NFTs.

“As an artisanal and cultural enterprise, it’s very important for us to be able to tell our story, the story of how our garment was made, the story of who made the product, the story of where it came from, and where it will be used,” he said.

“Innovation is key to preservation,” Baguilat tells the listeners. “Infusing technology with tradition is essentially part of my vision. The other important thing we’re looking at is ensuring that ethical credentials will be easily ascertained by our customers. It can guarantee our products’ authenticity and prove to our customers that we are truly a sustainable cultural and social enterprise. Web3 is the future of indigenous weaves.”

Kandama is a social enterprise that was incubated under the Young Social Entrepreneurs Program of the Singapore International Foundation in 2016. Its mission includes providing economic opportunities to indigenous women, preserving the tradition of handloom weaving, and helping the community protect the environment that sustains the rice terraces, specifically in Julongan village in Kiangan, Ifugao.

Victor Baguilat Jr. is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer featured in Vogue Italia. His works were featured in New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, Melbourne Fashion Week, and several global fashion events. He was nominated as International Designer of the Year at the International Indigenous Arts and Fashion Awards in Toronto, Canada, in 2020.


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