The story of cotton

Pintô Art Museum presents ‘Algodon,’ featuring Pepito Albert, Vic Barba, JC Buendia, Tonichi Nocom, and Randy Ortiz

LOOM WEAVED FOR MEN Inabel makes its way in menswear through this sharp, trailing vest featuring binakol prints by Barba

Cotton—the soft, fluffy, and extremely durable agricultural product—will take centerstage at Gallery 7 of Pintô Art Museum on Feb. 5, Sunday, in what may be a definitive fashion event of the year.

Dubbed “Algodon,” the Spanish word for cotton, the by-invitation-only show will feature the evocative creations of some of the most talented Filipino fashion designers, namely, Pepito Albert, Vic Barba, JC Buendia, Tonichi Nocom, and Randy Ortiz. Bearing their respective signature styles, the designers will demonstrate the beauty, subtlety, and versatility of inabel fabrics made of pure cotton and dipped in organic dyes.

DANCING DRESS JC Buendia creates a couture confection in this ballerina skirt using inabel

For Dr. Joven Cuanang, president and founder of the museum, Algodon is “a celebration of the revitalization of cotton farming in Pinili, Ilocos Norte.” Dismayed that most of the inabel fabrics in the market were made from a combination of polyester and cotton, Dr. Cuanang initiated a cotton development project in Pinili in 2016. His vision was for the farming community to supply sufficient fibers for the weavers to produce 100 percent pure cotton inabel. With the help of the local and national government, what initially began as two hectares devoted to cotton farming ballooned to 20, enough to keep the weavers’ hands busy and the looms humming.

Once the grassroots cotton production was set in place, it didn’t take long for the designers to get their hands on these fabrics. Long champions of local materials, Albert, Barba, Buendia, Nocom, and Ortiz transformed inabel into heart-stopping creations, from embroidered bustier to patchwork jackets to breezy resort wear to couture spectacles with contemporary silhouettes. The fashion show, to be directed by Jackie Aquino, will tell the story of the inabel cotton—its agricultural origins, its centrality in the farming and weaving communities in Ilocos, and its eventual triumph on the fashion stage.  

‘Farm-produced cotton has its rightful place in our times. It is part of our cultural heritage.’

The event hopes to emphasize that sustainable, ethically-sourced cotton used for fabrics is now available and that inabel, a precolonial cloth, may be fashioned in a variety of ways, not least of which as material and inspiration for the imaginative play of designers. “Algodon,” says Dr. Cuanang, “is a statement of an idea put into action. Painstakingly, over the last six years, we nurtured it from the seed farm to fiber to fashion. Farm-produced cotton has its rightful place in our times. It is part of our cultural heritage. It should be revitalized all over our country.”

Pintô Art Museum is at 1 Sierra Madre Street Grand Heights Subdivision 1870 Antipolo City.