Kaayo merges culture and protection in one collection

The brand is also launching its digital store this month.

Kaayo AnyWEAR

Resolved to get back on its feet, the Philippine fashion industry is again promoting the “buy lokal” initiative, encouraging everyone to purchase locally-made merchandise to keep Filipino-owned businesses alive and going. It is sad to think that months before the pandemic, the rise of all things local—food, clothing, home décor—was at its peak. What’s even more depressing is that the victims who took major setbacks from the pandemic are the industry’s unsung heroes – local craftsmen, weavers, and other indigenous communities that now face greater livelihood challenges on top of the coronavirus threat. 

What’s on top of the list for Marga Nograles, creator and proprietor of clothing brand Kaayo Modern Mindanao, is keeping her team intact, helping others, and ensuring that the legacy of Mindanaoan weavers will not be forgotten.

“When this crisis hit us, we paused only for a brief moment then got back on our feet working from home,” she says. “We worked with weaves, beads, and threads that our tribes had stocked at home, and upcycled everything we could find. At this time, when we were given the choice to evolve or repeat, we chose to evolve.”

Karlo and Marga with their kids

Just like her husband, cabinet secretary and co-chair of IATF Karlo Nograles, Marga has been on her feet, helping medical workers and other frontliners with her Beat Covid-19 campaign.

“In light of all the things that are happening, our quick response to the pandemic came in phases,” Marga says.  “First, we set up a feeding program for our frontliners in Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao.” 

She also collaborated with the Immaculate Concepcion Academy (ICA) batch 1998, and created face masks and other protective wear for sale. As the second phase of her philanthropic work, the collaboration allowed them to buy medical grade masks and suits to be donated to hospitals around the country.

“Our sewers reached out to us for help,” she says. “We asked them to make cloth masks for us so that we could donate more for the frontliners.”

Taking inspiration from her team and weavers, Marga has created a collection that embodies both the Mindanaoan spirit and the sense of safety and protection the current market needs. 

“We realized that we needed a collection that was current and relevant. Something that tells the story of hope and faith, believing that we can constantly work with anything that is thrown at us,” she says. “Mindanaoans have fought long and hard for as long as I can remember, and although this has been the greatest crisis we have ever faced, and we are used to fighting the hard fights. To win from this, we learned that we had to listen to our clients and study what the world needs right now.”

After two months in community quarantine, Marga and her team have come up with the Kaayo AnyWEAR collection. It features water repellent jumpsuits and coats, track suits, cloth masks, PPE bags, and face shield visors, all bearing the intricate handbeading of the T’boli tribe. 

A true versatile piece, the collection’s jumpsuit has been donned by strong women braving the pandemic such as Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat, broadcast journalist Karen Davila, PR maven Apples Aberin, and Department of Justice undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar. The collection also has pieces for the gents as seen on Sec. Karlo and Dr. Z Teo, CEO of the Aivee Group.

As from her other releases in the past months, Marga is donating proceeds from this collection to the brand’s partner charity groups.

“Each piece from this collection tells the story of people fighting for sustainability, courage, and hope,” she says. “The world needs hope. It needs us to keep on going. We decided not to let the pandemic take over us. We chose to rise above it and go with it.”

The Kaayo AnyWEAR collection will go live and ready for purchase on its website www.kaayoph.com on July 27 at 10 a.m.  New collections will be presented on the brand's digital store every week.