PHILIPPINES. Abra. Textile artist Adrienne Charuel supports the indigenous communities to get through poverty. She is the founder and creative director of Maison Métisse. Her brand embraces Filipino heritage, Japanese art, and slow fashion.
Interest in slow fashion
Charuel studied fashion design in Paris, then moved to New York, where she came across the art of Japanese weaving that inspired Maison Métisse. Her return to the Philippines in 2018 led her to discover the Philippine natural dyes, which she eventually adopted into her creations. Later, she learned the traditional hand embroidery of the Itneg Tribe and the handwoven fabrics of La Paz weavers in Abra.
Now, the textile artist collaborates with the indigenous communities to revive their practice of traditional weaving and hand embroidery through her contemporary creations. It uplifts and showcases Filipino heritage and promotes slow fashion and fair trade.
Getting through poverty
The Itneg Tribe found themselves in poverty even before the COVID-19 pandemic. To survive, they sell their ancestral embroidered fabrics at a low price. Because of this life, children look for work in metro Manila or another country, thus endangering their precious heritage.
Charuel said, “The poverty causes the children to seek a better life in the city.” Even the government barely supports them. The elders are struggling to revive their traditions when the younger people are leaving. Soon, their traditional practices will disappear if there is no interest from the children to continue them.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic decreased their source of income. The quarantine protocols prioritize the delivery of essentials. Consequently, their sales are low. Charuel created the Mask for Community to help her indigenous community partners where 50% of the earnings go to the Itneg Tribe and La Paz Weavers.
Charuel and her family started making face masks using Maison Métisse’s hand-dyed fabrics. They sold over a thousand face masks which provided 40 families with basic needs. She said, “The initiative helped put a roof for the La Paz weavers.”
Charuel shared with them with her tutorial video on sewing face masks and donated a sewing machine to the Itneg Tribe to sew their own Abra embroidered face masks. This initiative increased production which increased their income.
Projects that help the community
The support of Maison Métisse’s customers raised more than 981 USD (PH₱48,000) with the face masks produced in March 2020, before the lockdown. Now, the masks are in demand even though everyone is selling the same product. Also, their face masks reached Switzerland and the United States, even during the lockdown, because of well-crafted design and functionality.
The face masks are hand-sewn and hand-dyed with the use of natural dyes. They will be available in the San Francisco Bay Area in August. She said, “We slowly reach the international market.”
Charuel continues to support the community through the Artisan Fund. It gives 80% of the sales to them for their original products.
On to the next initiative
The textile artist plans to offer more online as she adapts her vision. She said, “We will launch our online boutique, virtual workshops, and offer self-care kits to support mental and emotional health during the pandemic.”
The online workshops will offer the handmade experience and insight into the brand’s creative vision.
Charuel continues to support the indigenous communities of Abra and gives back to front liners and people in poverty to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic.