fashion . Interview

I Am Her: Paloma Urquijo Zobel On Keeping Traditions Alive

History is back in fashion


Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.

 

Paloma Urquijo Zobel’s venture into the fashion industry was purely coincidental. While travelling around the Philippines and researching for another project, she kept encountering beautiful weaves that inspired her to make these relevant again. Wanting to ensure that the history and identity kept being passed to the younger generations, she set out to create PIOPIO, a clothing brand that re-imagined local textiles into everyday wear. Read on to learn how Paloma works with her brand to help Filipino craftsmanship be enjoyed on a daily basis. 



Fill in the blank: I’m an entrepreneur and ____________.


A social innovator.


Your brand is known for fusing traditional textures with funky everyday wear. Where do you and your team get your ideas when designing your pieces?


We get inspiration from just about anything. While working, everyone sits together so we can openly discuss and brainstorm. I also try to take the whole team with me when we source the fabrics and meet the communities we work with.

 


Cultural appropriation is a serious issue nowadays. What do you do to make sure you're not accidentally stepping over the line?


Not everybody agrees or likes what we do, but I think people should also be aware of the difference between culture appropriation and culture appreciation. We repurpose these textiles in the spirit of respect and do a lot of research throughout the process.  Everything is done in an effort to keep our traditions alive and more relatable while supporting our artisans and ensuring that their craft lives on. 

How do you include the community in the production of your designs?


Our relationship with our artisans goes beyond just the buying of fabric. We travel straight to the artisans’ communities and spend countless hours listening to them and their stories. We then design the pieces around the fabrics and not the other way around in order to make sure we highlight the craftsmanship and respect the weaver’s process.


 

Do you have any tips for incorporating native pieces in everyday wear?


Immerse yourself in the communities you work with. That will be your biggest inspiration.


What are your favourite pieces from your collections?


My favourite pieces are our ikat ponchos and bomber jackets.



Share with us your five Clozette essentials.


PIOPIO bomber jacket, jeans, Cowboy boots, my reusable water bottle, and a vintage band T-shirt.

 

What's next for you and PIOPIO?


I will keep promoting Filipino talent and artistry. We just opened our first store in Makati, Kubo by PIOPIO, which houses around 15 local brands that support Filipino communities. In El Nido, Palawan, we are developing our artist village in LIO, in the hopes that others see the need for cultural hubs in tourist destinations to promote the local talent in the area.

 

This interview was edited for brevity.


(Cover photo from: @piopio_ph)