Dressing for safety, hope and courage in Marga Nogralesâ kaayo
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and Kaayo founder Marga Nograles
Dressing for safety, hope and courage in Marga Nograles’ kaayo
GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star) - July 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Philippine fashion was quick to come together and bring on the bayanihan spirit when the coronavirus pandemic caused an overwhelming demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

One of them was Marga Nograles and mother Mary Ann “Baby” Montemayor’s contemporary Filipino fashion brand Kaayo Modern Mindanao, which collaborated with the ICA Tazians, Immaculate Conception Academy’s batch of 1998, for PPE donations to small hospitals around the Philippines. Back at their hometown of Davao, Kaayo set up a feeding program for the frontliners of Southern Philippines Medical Center as the start of their Beat COVID-19 Campaign.

“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, we are used to fighting the hard fight,” Marga says.

Never losing sight of the tribes that are at the core of the “kindness” that the brand name translates to in Bisaya, Marga reacted quickly and created a new product category for the brand to keep the livelihood of Mindanao artisans going. As early as April, Kaayo released a collection that brought the T’boli heritage of hand-beading to the fore in reusable hand-beaded masks. The response was overwhelming.

Department of Tourism SecretaryBerna Romulo-Puyat

“When this crisis hit us, we paused only for a brief moment then got back on our feet, working from home one day at a time. We worked with weaves, beads, threads that our tribes had stocked at home and upcycled everything we could find,” shares Marga.

“While this was all ongoing, our tribes did not stop working. Two months into quarantine, the idea of our AnyWear Collection sparked. We realized that we needed a collection that was current and relevant — a story that represented hope and faith, believing that we can constantly work with anything that is thrown at us.”

Before the lockdown, weavers from Maguindanao were busy creating fabric for a collaboration collection of bespoke suits by Salvo Women. T’boli artisans were hand-beading the brand’s Glam pajamas, jewel-colored in silk. While launched before the lockdown, the pajamas have become a work-from-home essential for Unilever’s head of PR and model Apples Aberin, dermatologist Aivee Aguilar-Teo, retailer Kai Lim, and Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar. As women of style and substance prepared to step out into an uncertain world, Marga listened to her clients and fashioned reusable PPE with the brand’s DNA of clean lines and a pop of color with Mindanao weaves, embroidery and hand-beading.

Broadcast journalist Karen Davila

Kaayo’s chic AnyWear brings back the joy in dressing up while giving a layer of protection and a feeling of safety to its wearer. For its first launch, water-repellent jumpsuits and coats, tracksuits, PPE bags and face-shield visors are embellished, either hand-embroidered by the T’boli or with a weave called Langkit, hand-woven by the women weavers of Marawi. With its modern silhouette, these pieces can be worn even when this is all over — when the most we’ll need protection from is rain showers.

New collections will launch on the e-commerce site every week. Proceeds from this collection will go to Kaayo’s Beat COVID-19 Campaign. While the Greenbelt 5 popup store is now closed, Marga hopes to open Kaayo’s showroom in Robinson’s Magnolia by next month.

“We learned that we had to listen to our clients and study what the world needed right now. The world needed hope. The world needed us to keep on going. We decided not to let the pandemic overtake us, but rather rise above it,” Marga says. “Each piece from this collection tells a story of a people fighting for sustainability, courage and hope — truly believing that if we cannot hope, what is there left to do?”

Unilever head of PR Apples Aberin

* * *

The Kaayo AnyWear Collection will go live and ready for purchase on www.kaayoph.com on July 27 at 10 a.m. or send a direct message on Instagram at @kaayo.ph.

Department of Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar
Retailer Kai Lim


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