Stitched Stories: A Collection That Reconnects To Roots, Identity, And Purpose - Lifestyle Asia

Anuling is an heirloom story by Studio Sug and the pop-up is at the Powerplant Mall for a limited time.

Connection and reconnecting with roots were prime movers behind the Anuling Collection of Studio Sug. Brand Founder and Creative Director Bea Constantino recalls, “Conceptualization started around the end of this year’s first quarter. At that time, it seemed to me that the world had this desire to reconnect amidst all the uncertainty. This resonated with me on a very personal level because I, too, was in a season of deep disconnect–within myself, my roots, identity, and purpose.” 

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It took well over two years before Bea could return to her ancestral hometowns of Zamboanga and Sulu. During that “rekindling” trip, she established strong links with identity and heritage. “It dawned on me that being Chavacano/Tausug does not fade just because I’ve not been able to visit Mindanao. It will always be a part of who I am and my identity,” intimates Bea. The realization also sparked inspiration for a collection that honors treasures from the past, and its unique ability to bridge people to the present. “I was looking for a keyword to jumpstart the collection–our biggest one thus far. One day, the word ‘heirloom’ came to me out of nowhere.”

Return to Anuling

Beyond ornamental items like jewelry, brass jars, or time-honored weapons, Bea pondered on heirlooms that have profoundly impacted her generation in their present lives. She shares, “I realized that the most valuable gift our ancestors left us is Anuling, a vast farmland shared by the current generation where we gather when we are home. It is a place that always makes me feel instant belongingness everytime I set foot on the flat meadows.”

Ancestors of the clan first settled into Anuling in Patikul, Sulu in the late 1880s. It has since been entrusted to the five generations that have grown in the family. For Bea, it is a special place that holds stories of the past–its heritage, secrets, milestones, and traditions. It is also where Studio Sug’s 2022 Collection first came to life. 

Slow Tropical Living

Studio Sug is anchored on the idea of slow tropical living–everywhere. And there is no place like Anuling to live out this ideal. “We dream of a slow and easy day walking along the meadows of Sulu. This is the feeling of rootedness that we wanted our customers to experience.”

The design team also took it upon themselves to elevate the use of local textiles and weaves for the collection. Bea explains, “We started the brand at a time when local textiles (from our limited perspective at the time) and weaves offered that pleasant surprise factor when used in everyday or casual wear. In our opinion, local textiles and weaves have become more accessible.”

If anything, this shift is an indication that there are more livelihood opportunities for textile and weaving communities in Mindanao. It also presents a call to arms for design houses like Studio Sug to embark on a new direction and mindset that would resonate with today’s mindful consumer. “We challenged ourselves to create designs that utilize weaves in an elevated and more intentional way versus the past simplified integration of the said fabrics.”  The big idea and summons was clear: to re-imagine and re-invent the use of local weaves and textiles are a standard for contemporary design. 

Colors and Textures

A soothing palette of earth tones were incorporated into the collection’s color wheel to depict the emotions and landscapes unique to Anuling. Bea adds, “We also wanted to showcase Sulu’s royal and regal aesthetic (gold, brass, weaponry) that takes up a huge chunk of Tausug heritage and culture. We expressed this through luxurious electric pleats, some sheen and sparkle, as well as our signature bright and bold hues.”

Ruffles comprise a significant part of Studio Sug’s house codes. “It’s our interpretation of waves of ocean currents, where the brand is named after. In Tausug, sug means water current.” When the collection was being put together, the team began searching for new approaches to portray the seascapes of the South. Bea details, “We explored braided weave retaso as well as braiding the weaves for a more interesting texture.” As a brand that honors tradition and heritage, the team was mindful in upholding the customs that surround each weave or textile. 

Silhouettes that shaped the collection draw inspiration from the artisans behind the brand. Voluminous maxi dresses and bow-legged overalls were envisioned as clothes for moving freely and creating beautiful things in the workshop. The collection’s’ Paperboat Skirt, follows the form of a paper boat. Apart from the apparent origami undertones, it is made distinctive Studio Sug as a nod to the colorful vintas or bangas that dot the cerulean waters of Sulu. 

Pajamas sets from Studio Sug are signature styles that cross over from lounge to streetwear. To elevate his design idea, the team integrated premium pleating and lustrous materials. It’s one of the many ways by which the label hopes to bring a piece of Anuling to everyday life. 

Visit Anuling at Studio Sug at Powerplant Mall from August 1-28, 2022. Follow Studio Sug on Instagram @studiosug to learn more.

Banner photo courtesy of Studio Sug.

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