Stories in stitches

Accessories designer Ken Samudio with his world-class work.

All I knew when I went to The Podium on a Monday afternoon was that we would be embarking on a “green walk.”

This had to do with SM Investments Corporation’s Green Movement, an advocacy which involves efforts to “build and create green spaces,” create a “greener shopping experience,” and “promote a culture of learning and leadership.”

These I learned more about after a pleasant lunch at Putien, the Michelin-starred Singapore restaurant brought in by the Vikings Group to Manila in 2019. The food was excellent, of course, and the conversation that ranged from tennis to the changing world of media, entertaining.

Later, at the Filipino Design Studio at the Kultura Store at The Podium, I saw what the green movement really meant in the stories of some local brands that Kultura had seen great potential in to support.

Ken Samudio, one of the brands featured in the month-long event that showcases the best of local designs, said he was very glad to discover that Kultura had become a brand in itself, far from being the store for “local souvenirs” that it used to be known for when it was first established.

Christine Silva-Navarro of Ilaya Couture with the brand’s modern Filipiniana collection.


Janeena Chan checks out finds from Rhett Eala’s collection during the launch of Kultura’s Filipino Design Studio.

Now, more than ever, Kultura is recognized as “a space of inspiration and community,” and in this case, for “showcasing a specially curated selection of over 50 premium guest brands and designers.”
SM has made it possible for customers to appreciate fine Filipino craftsmanship in “luxurious, beautifully curated collections of modern Filipiniana, statement jewelry, unique accessories and stylish home décor.”

You will find Rhett Eala, Milloe Monday, JIM Wearers, Ilaya Couture, Allena, Kara de Juan, Strong Mina, Rurungan Sa Tubod Foundation, Inc., Maison Grid and Flutter showcased alongside other innovative guest brands that give Filipino design a new perspective.

Photographs courtesy of SM
Cultural advocate Irene Marcos-Araneta with Kultura’s Ivy Yap (right) and Felicia Trinidad (left), and SM’s Millie Dizon at the launch of Kultura’s Filipino Design Studio at The Podium.


JIM Weaver’s Jenica Sy, Mischel Ocier Mendoza and Isabelle Ocier showcase stylish silk scarves inspired by our people, culture, and heritage.


Mariel Ching and Margot Prado of Millie Monday with featured artist Mia de Lara create home décor inspired by the tropics.

Samudio, whose works have been featured in Vogue Italia, WWD, L’Officiel, Glamour, Cosmopolitan USA, featured not just his latest designs using vintage tops, but also clutches and neck pieces using upcycled beads made from water plastic bottles, recycled sea glass and other sustainable indigenous materials.

JIM Weaver’s stylish silk scarves were eye-catching, and its young proponents said these were “inspired by our people, culture and heritage.”

Flutter Jewelry’s statement earrings using traditional beadwork techniques were interesting for the inspirations behind each collection, including animals and the circus. There are hand-loomed embroidered fabrics crafted by communities in Abra for Strong Mina and eco-fashion statement bags made from ethically-sourced carabao horns by Kara de Juan.

The fact that these emerging brands highlight sustainability is a story in itself, but if people knew what it took to start these businesses and sustain them, it would make them prouder not just of the heritage that these Filipino artisans are trying to showcase, but of being human.

Discover all these and more at Kultura’s Filipino Design Studio, which runs until 30 September at Kultura, 3rd Level of The Podium, Ortigas.

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