Initially being fearful of stepping into the world of fashion, Filip + Inna Founder and Creative Director Len Cabili has made it even more inclusive through her own brand
“When I started Filip + Inna, one thing was clear to me: the brand was going to point back to the Philippines and celebrate our culture through the craftsmanship of traditional and indigenous Filipino artisans.” For Len Cabili, coming up with another clothing line means having to steer clear from the mainstream pieces that have been taking over the runways and on social media. It can’t just be another brand with items we’re already tired of seeing. Instead, it has to mean something more, and actually showcase the rich history of her culture and those of others—and that was what she did with her own line, Filip + Inna.
In the latest episode of Infinite Legacies, a new TV documentary produced by Smart Communication, Inc.’s luxury postpaid brand Smart Infinity, Len Cabili gives us an inside scoop on her journey towards the creation of Filip + Inna, as well as daunting concerns that completely changed her outlook on life.
A history that follows
As someone who grew up in the second-largest island in the Philippines, Cabili was already immersed in the incredibly rich culture that those living in Mindanao are not only known for, but also incredibly proud of. She shared that she even danced the different traditional dances in Mindanao when she was younger, and doing so opened a whole new world for her. “I was astounded at the intricacy and the richness of our culture, and that awareness of the traditions of each group, I was exposed to [as well]. I know it was all these seeds that were planted along the way, and it just had to burst out and manifest into something.”
Her manifestations may have been heard by the universe as Filip + Inna, a fashion brand that incorporates traditional custom weaving, embroidery, and beadwork, and are especially handmade by different indigenous groups all over the Philippines, was finally thrusted into the world in 2010.
The journey she had prior to the launch of the brand was far from easy. Some may even say that the reality she was slapped with was a complete game changer, and can make or break how we see ourselves and our lives from that point on.
At the incredibly young age of 28, Cabili was diagnosed with cancer. For her, it all just happened so fast that it took even the next three years for her to come to terms with it. She added, “In a way, this keeps me grounded to this day, and aware that life can end at any moment.” With that thought in mind, Cabili remains positive and strong, which is also thanks to the support she continues to receive from her family and friends. It was even them who pushed her to create Filip + Inna, and let it reach the highest of highs it has already attained, one of them being featured in Vogue USA’s “Dressing for a Hotter Planet: In the Philippines, Designers are Creating Compelling Alternatives to Fast Fashion.”
Onward and upward
“It’s been one great adventure.” This is how Cabili described the creative journey she has been through the past 13 years with Filip + Inna, which includes working so closely with the artisans she has a very strong bond and connection with. She considers it a blessing to be working with them, and that their relationship just keeps on growing and improving along the way. While she may be looked at as the boss of the brand, she doesn’t deny that they have also taught her a lot of lessons in life.
“I would think that my personal legacy is being able to live out my life this way, wherein I’m engaging with artisans around the Philippines. It’s those people who will tell of the legacy. It’s pushing the different indigenous people into the forefront in the context of fashion. The way it has, maybe, changed their lives—that would be my legacy.”