These new rattan bags from Cal the Brand are perfect for the modern Filipino

Published December 28, 2020, 3:02 PM

by Kerry Tinga

Callie Ahmee, the 17-year-old daughter of Dimples Romana, is forging her own path and promoting local fashion

This may be a bit of a controversial opinion, but rattan bags always seemed a bit touristy to me. The classic, circular-shaped rattan bags are often seen on backpackers and sightseers, a sign that they have visited our tropical isles, or a gift to bring back home for their loved ones. Luckily, local rattan bags are getting their much-needed touch up from Cal the Brand.

Founded by 17-year-old Callie Ahmee, daughter of actress Dimples Romana and entrepreneur Boyet Ahmee, Cal the Brand promises to promote local craftsmanship for the modern Filipino and Filipina. Their first collection, launched earlier this month, is a three-piece capsule collection of handwoven pieces made from only premium rattan.

From left: The half-moon bag, the oversized tote, and the pyramid bag / Photo from Instagram/CaltheBrand

“When I had the idea of starting a business, I wanted to start with something that I was passionate about and that was fashion, specifically local fashion,” says Callie. “The first collection was based on my interpretation of the rattan bags that became popular last year.”

It is clear from the collection that Callie’s interpretation respects both traditional craftsmanship and the natural, sustainable material: rattan. Rattan’s organic beauty can easily embrace various shapes and formations, limited only by skill and imagination. Working with highly skilled craftsmen, Callie infuses a young design aesthetic into an old favorite.

These aren’t the sort of rattan bags that only look right in a tropical setting (i.e. touristy). These are the sort of designs that the modern Filipino and Filipina would be proud to wear anywhere and with any ensemble, from minimalist to maximalist, from boho-chic to edgy-modern.

Look how Cal the Brand styled their pieces below:

And who is the modern Filipino and Filipina that Callie has in mind?

The young entrepreneur shares some of her inspirations, including fashion-forward women like Kim Cam Jones, Shaira Luna (who photographed the first collection of Cal the Brand), and Gabbie Sarenas. They are all, in their own ways, pushing the boundaries of Filipino fashion and creativity.

And now Callie follows suit, adding a youthful vibrance and fresh point of view to an age-old industry.

Callie Ahmee (left) with Shaira Luna (right) who shot the collection of Cal the Brand / Photo from Instagram/CallieAhmee

But this is just the beginning for both Callie and Cal the Brand.

“I’m developing at least three collections right now that are not limited to fashion items,” adds Callie. While it sounds like there is a lot of work to be done, she has a whole team behind here. “I just want to say thank you again to my parents for the non-stop support, and to Ate Shaira for all the help, especially with the visual and media side.”