Obrano: A Piece of Heritage in Our Pockets

January 23, 2017 7:00 pm by Bettina Bacani
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If you were asked to pick between leather and weaves, which one would you go for? Leather has always been known as a premium item – it is durable, flexible, and can be used for clothing, furniture covers, bookbinding, accessories, and more. Weaves, on the other hand, are the result of yarns or threads laced together to form colorful fabrics or cloth. More than that, weaves are a part of our heritage and our culture, passed on from within generations.trends-obrano

Obrano leather goods give you the best of both worlds. The brand offers hand stitched leather products that showcase the rich tradition of weaving from around the world. “We believe that weaves are one of the most underrated pieces of heritage around. We want to apply these in modern design through our leather goods. We may not be able to wear traditionally woven garments daily, but we can definitely bring a piece of that heritage in our pockets every day.”

The Obrano Minimalist is made from pull up genuine cow leather and a money strap that features a local handwoven textile from the Philippines

For their first collection, they are focusing on three types of Filipino indigenous weaves from Northern Luzon: Kantarines, Hablon and Binakul.trends-obrano4

(1) The Binakul or warp ikat binakel weave comes from Bangued, Abra. These weaves are characterized by the interlocked square patterns weft with complementing thread colors.

(2) The Hablon fabric comes from Vigan, Ilocos Sur. This weave is made from hand woven cotton weft with metallic fiber.

(3) The stripe patterned Kantarines weave also comes from Bangued, Abra. It’s made from hand woven cotton by manga bel ti Abra, which translates to weavers of Abra.

As you can see, different provinces produce different kinds and styles of weaves. Unfortunately, they are only seen as souvenir items. Whenever we visit provinces, weaved products such as coin purses and bags are just some of the items we consider bringing home to give as pasalubong (along with food, keychains, caps, t-shirts, etc). They are not seen as everyday items or part of daily essentials – and that’s exactly what Obrano wants to change.

From January to July 2015, the team, comprised of Patch Dulay, Justin Bereber, and Tracy Villanueva, began prototyping wallets and looking for suppliers for their Obrano Minimalist Wallets. In August 2015, they started a crowd-funding project at The Spark Project. “The funds we raise on The Spark Project will be used to manufacture the Obrano Minimalist Wallet, Key Holders and Leather Conditioner. Anything we get in excess of our funding goal will be added to our funds for bazaars, as well as for prototyping our next designs.”trends-obrano7

From left to right: Justin Bereber, Patch Dulay, Tracy Villanueva

Needless to say, the Obrano team of three succeeded in reaching their goal. In fact, they were able to raise over PHP 200,000 from their goal of PHP 60,000 thanks to the ninety five supporters who not only believed in their vision, but wanted to own a piece of our heritage with them as well.trends-obrano8

Today, Obrano’s main product is the Obrano Minimalist, which they have designed to carry all your essential cards and cash. Despite its thin appearance, it can hold up to eight cards and ten banknotes.

For the team, the process is just as important as the finished product. Both leather and weaves are sourced locally; and they produce everything in small batches to ensure the quality of the items. Obrano collaborates with talented Filipino crafters who create fine quality leather goods the way they should be made. “While the weaves that we source from around the country speak of our rich culture and heritage, the love and passion that go into our handmade goods are tangible: you can see, smell, and touch the difference.”

They want to change the way people see the phrase Made in the Philippines. To them, it is more than just a statement or a trendy movement. Obrano sees it as a “continuous process of empowering people to be mindful, intentional and invested in the creation of a fine item created locally. The essence of Filipino craftsmanship stays with us at every point during production.”

Obrano plans on creating new wallet designs (classic billfold and long wallets for ladies), as well as passport holders and lanyards, which will incorporate new weaves from different provinces around the Philippines.

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Photos from Obrano | screengrabs from The Spark Project

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