Flora created the brand Ethnique PH, a brand based in the Philippines, from a love for travel and the accessories that are reminiscent of that affection. Each component is handmade by artisans in India from materials all over the world. The owner hopes each product of the brand appeals to the sensibility and allure of finding just the right item, one that inspires expeditions of both the body and soul.
She further explains this lovely juxtaposition of modern aesthetic with artisanry passed down through generations. “We have a very clear understanding of our brand’s identity— all items are artisanal and handmade, colorful, and quirky. Hence, every time we design a bag, these are the qualities we fulfill to stay true to Ethnique’s DNA. Therefore, our display will showcase this very spirit.
In the past few months, we have been obsessed with recycled fabrics (the Raya collection), and intricate beadwork: How to elevate what could be seen as a shabby rug made of strips of old fabrics, for the product to not only be sustainable but also luxurious? And how to juxtapose traditional, labor-intensive beading with modern and fun designs? So we have been exploring ways of expressing our aesthetic using those; and they would be a big part of our NY NOW selection. “
Each piece involves intricate handiwork- each piece again reflecting the boho chic and luxury attitude of the brand. Some items involve weaving, others, like their celebrated beaded bags, ask the artisan to draw from time-honored skill and practices, incorporating both elegance and quirk of contemporary tastes.
“As for the beaded bags, we are just completely in awe of the process, talent, effort, and time required to make each and every piece. For instance, it takes about 2 days to make one Mati bag. We think of the patterns, designs, colorways; but the artisans deserve all the praise for the work they do to bring to life our ideas. Their skill, and the care and patience they demonstrate in practicing that skill, are truly amazing,” Flora explains.
Beadwork is the heritage of generations, requiring an artful eye and delicate skill. Fabric is first stretched, then attached to a bed or table. The ascribed pattern is first drawn out in white ink before a long needle is used to thread seven or eight beads at a time. The needles are utilized to attach the beads on top of the fabric. Each thread is then knotted by hand and the process is repeated until the design is completed. This repetitive act is done on a flat surface to ascertain a measure of slack needed to fold or shape the bag once the beading is completed. Such complexity requires patience, but the ultimate results deliver bold and joyful fruitions from a design perspective.
Flora further qualifies, “It is for this reason that when we get high volume orders, we do ask for an extension for delivery since: One, we cannot just hire new people to hasten the work. As of now, we only work with a small group with a high level of artistry; two, we cannot compromise the quality of our beaded pieces by rushing our artisans. Again, it is an art, and the process for such things must be respected.”
These extraordinary, and funky, statement pieces will be exhibited for potential buyers at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource February 4-7 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/ethniqueph