Finding Filipino through the rebirth of a local luxury brand

I was a junior in college when I discovered Fino Leatherware. Putting together money I saved while working part time in a radio station plus allowance from my parents, I remember going into the store, giddy about which Fino item I would bring home. Turns out my funds could only afford me the smallest tote, but I was thrilled nonetheless, carrying my brand new leather goody. I actually sniffed the leather as I slowly zipped the bag open and peeked inside which was lined with its classic brown and beige plaid pattern. I left the store making a mental note that I would go back for the matching organizer (genetically called a Filofax back then) when I had enough savings again. I was pleasantly surprised when my mom gave me the organizer a few weeks later, just because she was happy to have her college girl home for the weekend. I was ecstatic!! Now my Fino set was complete, the organizer to match my bag.

It is difficult  to believe that was 23 years ago! Today Fino Leatherware has made a name for itself as one of the country’s premium local brands. The company’s values of passion, quality, attention to detail as well as Filipino ingenuity and authenticity have been the driving force behind each of its handcrafted, artisanal pieces. For more than two decades, Fino’s discerning clientele has enjoyed these luxury products that aren’t just beautiful, but also practical. Just look at the Haddock Bowl in beige below.

Fino’s Haddock Bowl in beige from the A/W ’15 collection. The artisanal braid is distinctly Fino, showcasing the Filipino’s craftsmanship and talent. Each handmade Fino work of art takes an average of 20 hours to create and finish.

The elements of aesthetics and function come into play seamlessly, its crumpled leather exterior giving it a chic and modern touch. There are actually five inner pockets that help organize my usually hectic and multi-faceted working mom day. Don’t be deceived by its seemingly timid exterior, this beauty carries 2 cellphones, 2 chargers, 10 tubes of lipstick, a hairbrush, wallet and even my folded morning paper (yes, despite this digital world we live in, I still read the paper everyday, particularly the headlines, business & lifestyle sections).

Fino recently launched its S/S ’16 collection during the Manila Fashion Festival, the collection a result of the slow, arduous process of introspection and self-rediscovery. Through this rebirth, Fino finds within its roots the beauty and skill that have been there all this time, unraveling the artistry deep within.

(Photos courtesy of Fino Leatherware’s Facebook Page taken during the Manila Fashion Festival)

True to Fino’s brand, the collection unveiled forms and textures exuding a balance of contemporary and classic, modern and traditional. Inspired by our local culture, each hand-woven, hand-braided and hand-loomed piece fuses luxurious leather with distinctly Filipino elements: the sipa, puso, suman, banderitas and banig, playfully incorporated in each of the pieces.

The sipa represents the Filipino’s love for sports, play and our carefree disposition,
while the suman and puso symbolize the joy of an abundant harvest (more popularly known in Cebu as ‘hanging rice’ the puso is rice boiled in single-serving sized triangular pockets or casings of woven coconut leaves, the rice meant to be eaten by hand, directly from the coconut leaves it was cooked in). Banderitas no doubt epitomize the festive, joyful and resilient Filipino spirit amidst calamity and struggle, while the banig personifies our people’s close family ties and simple love for togetherness.

Such depth, intricacy and artistry can only be articulated through the Filipino’s ingenuity, skill and craftsmanship, all of which have been uniquely harnessed by Fino. Executed as a work of art, their highly skilled artisans spend an average of 20 hours per piece, perfecting every intricate detail that goes into each Fino bag.

Fino’s  S/S ’16 collection is not merely a representation of the Filipino culture, it is a loving celebration of it.




4 thoughts on “Finding Filipino through the rebirth of a local luxury brand

  1. Mawi, this is so cool. It is a revelation but I am not surprised. I love Fino, too! I bought a set of green and red stuff from them probably more than 7 years ago – I still use them. PLUS, they still look new!


  2. Mawi, this is so cool. It is a revelation but I am not surprised. I love Fino, too! I bought a set of green and red stuff ( several items ) from them probably more than 7 years ago – I still use them. PLUS, they still look new!


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