style by Alyssa Castillo

Meet Your New Favorite Hobby: Weaving 101 with Rags2Riches

Rags2Riches’ S/S2017 collection is a testament to the talented Ilocano artisans and their use of Binetwagan indigenous fabric.

Rags2Riches is a constant reminder that women are loving daughters, hardworking mothers, goal-setters, compassionate Filipinas, and purposeful citizens. The true R2R Woman is a versionary—an innovator full of wisdom.

The brand’s S/S 2017: VERSIONS collection is all about “embracing beautiful complexity” and “adapting to the multiple transformations the R2R Woman makes every day,” all while “weaving together the values she carries.” Communities such as the R2R Urban Artisans, the R2R Workshop Artisans, and artisans from Ilocos were all involved in making this collection come to life. Together with the signature R2R weave in red, teal, and mustard, the collection also showcases the indigenous weave of Binetwagan from Ilocos by the only living Abel Iloko textile weaver named Dedicacion Arriola.

As an NBHD gal, I was lucky enough to have been invited to the press preview of VERSIONS as it allowed me to experience weaving with the R2R Workshop Artisans along with several R2R friends from the media pool. But in a state of mid-weave because, well, it takes a lot of focus and discipline to actually get through it—especially for a beginner like myself.

You’re not required to be equipped with special skills to become a weaver, but weaving in itself requires a great deal of patience and diligence to get the work done. It seems intimidating, I know. And it didn’t help that I chose the bold, glaring color of red rather than the friendly mustard or the calming teal.R2R-gif

It wasn’t a contest, no, but I felt the pressure on my slow hands when it dawned on me that I might get left behind everyone else. It was a group workshop—can you blame me? But I learned, during the process, that this was something that I couldn’t rush. Similar to writing, rushing will not only jeopardize the outcome of my work but also kill the experience. Weaving, for one, was actually very therapeutic for me (I might even go back for some volunteer work).

Like any maker, you want to see your own reflection in your own work. I just wanted mine to look decent, at the very least. But eventually, I got the hang of it after a couple of lags and errors.

Once I finished, I felt a sense of fulfillment—like a making-it-before-the-deadline kind of accomplishment. I felt good about myself. Maybe the R2R artisans feel this way too after hooking the very last thread of each weaved bag and, perhaps, this is one of the reasons why they love what they do.

After the mini workshop, I got to take home my own Riki bag in red. I was proud enough to tell my friends, “I weaved this!” which was simply met with them teasing me about my ability (or lack thereof) to do anything creative with my hands—let alone weave—but whatever, I was too ecstatic to mind.

As Rags2Riches Inc. unveiled their newest collection before my eyes, I also saw the literal versatility of VERSIONS. The Riki can be a flat tote or a cross body pouch. The Anna can be transformed from a flat tote to a hobo cross body bag. The Maria can be a trapezoid tote or a sling bag. The Frances could be a drawstring backpack or a simple pouch.

It’s been exactly a decade since the brand was born, and since then, Rags2Riches has proven to be a fashion and design social enterprise that’s built to last. With their latest and most innovative collection to date, it’s unlikely they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

Art by Mags Ocampo

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @alyssakcastillo.
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