Choosing Local

Ever since I watched the documentary The True Cost, a film that follows the lives and working conditions of the workers, mostly women, who make garments for high street brands like Zara, H&M and Forever21, and saw the horrible situations the women live through day in and day out, I made a conscious decision to buy more local brands. Fashion people, watch it on Netflix! It’s high time these start-up businesses get the recognition they deserve and given the good quality, positive feedback and true Pinoy ingenuity, our all-out support is what they need to make it big.

I’m ecstatic to have these choices in our shores at a time when there are staggering options from international brands that can overpower smaller entrepreneurs. I often worry about how our local businesses survive and how newbies can get the break they need. But with new names popping up all the time, there is room for all the players, old and new. Here are some of my personal favorites, whose websites I often stalk for the latest offerings and sale announcements. This is in no way a paid post, I simply just love them.




Fino’s leather goods stand the test of time and are so well-made it can compete with old school Italian brands for a fraction of the price. The Verona Zip and more can be viewed at 



Renegade Folk’s sandals are hands down one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. No need to break them in! It’s hard to buy just one pair when they continue to come up with the most stylish designs. The all-leather footwear are made by artisans from Marikina, so buying from them keeps the local shoe industry alive. Her in Zebra available at 




Working women, moms and students have been going gaga over the “classic with a twist” garments of Unif0rm. Borne out of ingenuity and resourcefulness of owner Pia See, it’s a reflection of her own impeccable taste and dress sense. The Bow Topper can be ordered from their catalogue 




Nawa is a new brand of brass bangles made with love from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Every piece of bangle sold supports the Lake Sebu School of Living Traditions, preserving and promoting the T’boli culture. It also gives the women who weave the pouch livelihood and a sense of worth—reasons enough to support this brand even more. Find them on Instagram at




This online shop of my friend Mikka Padua has been a go-to of mine since their launch in 2013. Every new style story they come up with never fails to get me excited—and it seems most women agree. You need to be vigilant to acquire their often out of stock pieces like this  Azilal Embroidered Caftan at




Ever since I chanced upon R2R’s kiosk in Glorietta, I was enamored with the polished weaving skills of the women who make them. It started with a floor mat that I still use to this day to the mini Buslo bags that are just the right size and mix of chic local design. Brown Buslo from





When C2 re-launched a few years back under the helm of seasoned designer Rhett Eala, it has put the brand back on the map—literally—when he used the Philippines as a print on the shirts. It was a hit with balikbayans and as pasalubongs to friends on my trips abroad. I was really pleased with the quality and cool designs that to this day, under new designer JC Buendia, I continue to be a fan. Photo from

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