Young Filipina turns her grandma’s clothes into chic, modern pieces

Published October 1, 2020, 7:05 PM

by John Legaspi

It’s about time to check the hidden treasures inside your lola’s baul

We will always have a soft spot for our grandmothers. They are kind, gentle women who have helped shape us. One thing we always admire about them is their unique style that is made more elegant by time. It was through clothing that Kassandra Jaen Pepito, 22, and her grandma created special moments. 

“She worked as a seamstress back in the day, hand sewing anything that had tears or holes in it. I myself enjoyed sewing Barbie clothes as a kid and she knew it,” Kassandra says. “That’s why when she got older and couldn’t properly see anymore, I became her personal sewing machine. I never complained though because I love her to bits!”

When her grandma passed this year, she decided to honor her by creating looks out of her grandma’s closet. Little did she know it was going to be the thing that would set off something bigger.

“Thrift lifting” is an initiative Kassandra has been pushing for quite a while. With the help of her grandma’s special pieces, it helped her build the core for her dream sustainable brand—making beautiful clothes out of old ones.

In a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, the Cebuana architecture student shares the legacy her grandmother left to her and why adopting a much eco-conscious closet is important now more than ever.

What initiated this idea

My lola was the most caring, humble, selfless, and religious woman I know. She was also the proudest of our smallest achievements and the happiest when we are in complete attendance. Her name was Sebastiana Villamor Pepito. Unfortunately, she died on June 29 9f old age. My family didn’t know what to do with her closet as she had tons of well-kept clothes from when she was younger. I was already starting my “thrift lifting”project that time and realized, “Why not rework my lola’s clothes for myself instead?” That way, I will always feel her close to me, guiding me in everything I do. Now that I think of it, I realize that my lola did become my guardian angel. She was never the type who would take pride in her clothes but I’m glad that I made it possible today. I got here because of what I did and I think this is something she’ll be most proud of.

How did you create the pieces? 

I’d known the basics of hand sewing since elementary but I did watch a lot of DIY clothing transformation tutorials on Youtube. Later on, I was already able to make my own patterns and experiment on more complex designs without a sewing machine. I don’t know how to use it yet.

‘My lola did become my guardian angel. She was never the type who would take pride in her clothes, but I’m glad I made it possible today.’

What’s your upcoming ethical brand Chag Co.?

Chag Co. is all about encouraging people to live a more sustainable lifestyle through fashion. We want to share how we transform old and outdated pieces into trendy outfits that anyone would want to wear and inspire people to do the same. Our goal here is to lessen the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. The more people we gather, the faster we will achieve our goal.

Why is it important for everyone to adopt a greener lifestyle?

I believe it is our responsibility to protect and preserve our planet for the future generations. Shifting to a more sustainable lifestyle is definitely not easy but doing small things like avoiding the use of single waste plastic, buying from second hand stores, and even getting into the habit of bringing your own water container instead of buying bottled water makes a big difference in the long run.