Held on September 12, 2023, the Connecting Weaving Artisans Consultation Workshop brought together artisans, designers, and experts for an interactive exchange between the Philippines’ and the United Kingdom’s weaving ecosystems.
This event is part of The New Landscapes Project of the British Council and University of the Arts London (UAL) Fashion, Textiles and Technology Institute which aims to push forward the global sustainable fashion and textiles sector through innovative research and development initiatives. Panublix is one of six selected businesses that received funding, business guidance, and academic assistance to further develop R&D concepts in sustainable fashion, textiles, and technology.
The workshop was moderated by regenerative design strategist Sarah Queblatin and began with a round of introductions with participants from the UK and the Philippines. Attendees from the Philippines include three Panublix co-founders Ria San Gabriel, Claire Juanico, and Noreen Bautista, former PTRI Director Celia Elumba, and Marlon Martin of Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement. Hailing from the UK are Justina Alexandroff from Colèchi, material futurist Steph Rolf, and textile designer Alice Timmis from the University of the Arts London Fashion, Textiles and Technology Institute (UAL FTTI).
During the workshop, participants engaged in an exploration of key issues in each country’s weaving industry, guided by the following questions:
- What are the barriers faced by the weaving industry in your respective countries?
- How does policy, design, and supply chain affect weaving practices? Are there other notable factors to consider?
- How can we create a more inclusive weaving ecosystem between the UK and the Philippines?
Some insights from the Philippines:
- Administrative work such as business registration and protecting designs pose a significant challenge for weavers.
- There’s an absence of regulations that safeguard traditional textiles from being replicated by machines.
- Supply chain limitations, particularly the high cost of natural fabrics like cotton and abaca, make weavers reliant on synthetic materials.
- There’s a lack of data on production value and capacity.
- There’s a need for more formality in cultural tradition and weaving education.
- Weaving requires extensive efforts and the substantial time needed for weaving setup alone has implications for pricing. This reality has prompted a shift towards knitting due to the relative affordability of knitting machinery.
- High cost of certification - Compared to big brands, small-scale producers are greatly affected by the financial burden of scaling up operations and sustainability certification costs. There is a need for to share more knowledge about the cost of certifications across the supply chain especially to consumers.
The workshop wrapped up with a brainstorming session focused on practical solutions to overcome the above challenges. From the Philippines, suggestions include consumer education and mapping of indigenous communities. From the UK, the concept of “hot desking system for machinery” was raised, providing easier access to weaving machines and help with cost efficiency.
For Panublix, the workshop was a valuable opportunity for us to learn from and connect with our overseas partners, strengthening our commitment to preserving traditional weaving practices. We look forward to future dialogues like this that pave the way for a more inclusive weaving ecosystem.
Read the stories of Panublix partner weavers in Weaver of the Month.