Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Just about every woman carries a handbag. In a way, bags are key barometer of our times which shows the pivotal change in women's role in society. The rising number of working women factors in the evolution of this fashion accessory, propelling it to an industry on its own with the high demand for variety to cater to a host of occasions from day 'til night.  

To some, a bag is a survival kit, an investment, a status symbol, an expression of individualism or an accessory that complements any outfit or mood. It goes by different labels, designs and craftsmanship. But whether it's fashionable or functional, utilitarian or accessorial, practical or luxurious, a bag is very personal as it carries you through the day's mission in any destination.

Making bags stand out in this competitive industry is the main challenge for all designers. Creation involves constant improvisation, reinvention or deconstruction of traditional styles, study of trends and experimentation. When it comes to resources, materials and fabrics, it's recommended to shop for best prices without sacrificing quality and durability. 

While most follow the standard philosophy of form and function, 25-year old Davao-based designer Basil Yap Cabaral adds 2 more elements into the creative process resulting to a modernized take on native utility bags. 

Sustainability and Local Heritage
"The NinoBasilio brand takes pride and inspiration from the traditional Filipino bayong," explains Basil. We want to give a new twist to this iconic commodity, to make it look modern, sleek, trendy and versatile. The body is made of woven dried pandan leaves --- colored and polished ones which are abundant in Negros. The bag handle is shaped out of treated mahogany. As accent, we made use of man-made leather and we are now exploring other fabrics like maybe the T'nalak and other indigenous materials."

Woven dried leaves are usually type-casted as relating to tropical settings and daywear. Basil explains how he recreated the model for today's urbanites. "I wanted to design the bag in such a way that it can still be fashionable and adaptable to all kinds of events, whether indoor or outdoor, day or night."
"How did I take it to the level where fashion meets function? Aside from playing with different shapes and sizes, color is one of the key elements which make our designs adaptable to street and high fashion. Say, our multi-colored patchwork bag to accentuate that all-black attire. We also have a variety of subdued tones and vibrant plains which go well with any printed or structured ensemble."

Basil, who is no neophyte in the retail industry, values his exposure to culture and arts through his "regular" day job in one of the city's premier malls. As Visual Display Officer, he gets to experiment with colors and various materials, research on trends and explore art techniques. "It fuels my imagination. It's like the warm up exercise to the actual workout routine which is my other job as a bag designer. I discover new things and, in a way, I also get to do cross training in fashion merchandising because of the nature of the mall and retail business. I'm happy that I live and breathe in a world surrounded by creative minds."


Currently, Basil's bags are only on a per-order basis. "I had a chance to display my products in a mall event back in August and, since then, orders have started pouring in. It was a feat to have such overwhelming reception from locals and tourism players, given that it was my first venture and production only began in June. Imagine, what came as a cure to my mid-life crisis turned out to be the most rewarding and fulfilling investment I've made to date," gushes the young entrepreneur. "I have so many plans for this brand, see it go places and to make it grow past the 7-year itch. Eventually, if budget and resources permit, I'll work on putting up a store of my own. I want my bags to be readily available for anyone who wishes to buy on the spot, especially visitors from other regions and countries. My bags are not only unique in form and style, but they also showcase a part of our culture and heritage."

Follow NinoBasilio Bags on Facebook and Instagram for more product details. For orders, please contact 09173211652 or 09255211552. Some pieces will soon be available at Martish specialty shop located along J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City.
Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.
A1 and A4, Indulge, Edge Davao, Vol. 7 Issue no. 132, 17 September 2014.



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