Today's modern world dictates that we keep moving forward, with nary a glance to where we have been. As such, there is a tendency to forget our roots, forget our heritage: the very cornerstones that built us into what we have become.
It is precisely this momentum that catapulted renowned celebrity fashion stylist Bea Constantino to pay homage to the very culture that is part and parcel of who she is. Having made her mark in an industry that she loved, Bea felt that a change in her perspective has needed. “Last year, I reached a point in my career where I was hungry for something more substantial,” Bea reveals, “I spent a lot of time searching for something that would go beyond what I am already doing.”
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As a proud German-Chavacano-Tausug whose family hails from Zamboanga City and Jolo, Sulu, having a genealogy of fighting spirit in her blood was pivotal to Bea's search for significance. She counts among her ancestors the maritime legend Capt. Herman Leopold Schück, who aided the Tausug Sultanate from the invading Spanish, British and Dutch colonizers, as a great-great grandfather, and the late Senator Roseller T. Lim, the great Filibuster and Father of Zamboanga, who was instrumental in dividing the peninsula into the Del Norte and Del Sur provinces, as a grandfather.
Stories of her forefathers deeds and contributions captivated Bea and kindled the spark for Herman & Co., a brand that features two distinct products from her beloved hometowns: individually handpicked coffee beans from Sulu, managed by her brother, Dinjo Constantino, and beautiful, understated high-street outfits made from the artisanal weaves of Mindanao Bea handled herself. It serves a dual purpose: first, as a nod to the unique and sustainable products of the South and second, as an aim to show the positive, creative and upbeat side of the region, beyond its image of conflict and war.
“My frequent visits to my hometowns helped me understand the culture more, and ultimately, how it shaped who I am today,” shares Bea, “The revelations inspired me to tell the story of this heritage, to inspire others to know more about the people and culture of Mindanao.”
While she is quick to point out that she is not a designer, her years in the fashion industry have equipped Bea with insight on how to leverage her strengths to create beautiful investment pieces, practicing a more symbiotic trade with the weavers by keeping them informed on how and where their textile is being used.
“Each collection holds the weavers' stories in the beautiful textile that they create,” exclaims Bea, “There is so much history, tradition, and culture found in every pattern, every thread. I wanted to integrate this into everyday wear that respects the traditions behind the fabric. Hopefully, this can translate into redefining Philippine fashion, for people to see our local textiles beyond costumes for Linggo ng Wika.”
In this endeavour, Bea succeeds wonderfully. Herman and Co.'s collections are designed, crafted, and curated to present a unique selection wardrobe essentials that reflect the beauty and culture of the people who created them. The interplay of feisty colors and bold patterns in the modern designs captivate on sight, visionary pieces that establish that substance and style are not mutually exclusive.
Having such a strong brand purpose neccessitates being clear on the end goals, something that Bea is constantly aware of, being the impetus that drives the fashion line forward. As such, it entails close collaboration among a network of individuals who share the same vision and goals. Bea aims to put Herman and Co. in the spotlight through events, like the upcoming Likhang Habi Market Fair, organized by the Habi Textile Council.
“Our participation provides discerning, conscious consumers an opportunity to see our products and to get a real sense of their quality craftsmanship,” she says. “Creating a demand for these weaves is my own little way of highlighting my hometown's vibrant culture and transforming their communities through economic empowerment,” Bea concludes.
Get a glimpse of Mindanao's wonderful textiles and more at The 7th Likhang Habi Market Fair on Oct 20-22 2017, Glorietta Activity Center. Details on their Facebook page.
For more details on Herman and Co., visit their Instagram account.
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Photographs from Instagram.com/hermanandco and Bea Constantino