Habi Kadayawan Fashion Accessory Design Competition: What makes a winning design?

The recent fashion accessory design competition gathered an impressive pool of talents. Habi Kadayawan, only in its second season, has yet to prove to be a good jump off point for new and seasoned local talents to showcase their creativity to the global stage, but it’s getting there.


The models wearing the accessories of the 15 finalists


After deliberating on submitted designs inspired by the tribes of Davao, 15 made it to the final list with entries each in three categories: student, hobbyist, and professional. The actual products were prejudged with creativity and originality, craftsmanship and visual appeal and marketability as the criteria. Runway appeal was reserved for the final judging.


The winning pieces inspires by the Davao tribes


The judges were talented and renowned in their fields of expertise in the design arena: couturier Cary Santiago, furniture maven Vito Selma, accessory designer D’Oro Barandino, shoes and accessories designer Maco Custodio and Pret-a-porter designer Avel Bacudio. They excelled in their crafts, were able to penetrate the international arena with their products, they are recognized and have received numerous accolades.


The guest judges- Vito Selma, Avel Bacudio, Maco Custodio, D’Oro Barandino & Cary Santiago


The winners and their creations- Rhyan Orillo (student), Carmaela Alcantara (professional) and Kathryn Fanlo (hobbyist)

Carmaela Alcantara won in the professional category with her “D-11” bag. “Durian varieties are named D with numerical digits. 11 refers to the number of Davao tribes. It’s embellished with beads shaped like thorns connected at the base, like how the tribes co-exist-together and connected.” She needs about two to three weeks lead time to produce one bag.


“D-11,” bag by Carmaela Alcantara. Winner, Professional category

Kathryn Fanlo’s “Pahidungog” neckpiece won in the hobbyist category. “The 11 tribes are represented in my centerpiece made of hand-sculpted polymer clay. It also showcases the handwoven fabric of the Mandaya as well. The centerpiece is versatile and can be used in several ways, like a bag charm.” Fanlo currently has three variations including the Philippine Eagle and Waling-waling.


“Pahidungog,” neckpiece by Cathryn Fanlo. Winner, Hobbyist category

Winning in the student category was Rhyan Orillo’s “Panyas” tote bag made of t’nalak fiber with panyas seeds beading. “In my hometown, Bansalan, the indigenous people create accessories accessories using panyas seeds and sell it. My design inspiration was the Bagobo Tagabawa’s livelihood, which is the beading.”


“Panyas,” bag by Rhyan Orillo. Winner, Student category.


Vito Selma. “For me, the winning piece should be a balance of originality and its saleability, but the biggest factor for me is the story behind the work. It should speak of the artist. It should speak of where they’re from, which is Davao. One of the best things I saw today was one lady’s product, she was very creative in the functionality of the object.”

Avel Bacudio. “Lahat sila is ok. Lahat sila is parang bago. Ang pinaka gusto ko, because I’m into ready-to-wear, is one product that na pwedeng global, na pwede i-mix mo kahit saang damit. Na- capture ang attention ko nitong produkto na super simple pero nandun lahat yung symbol ng Davao. I’m looking for a symbol na pwedeng pang global, mabilis gawin at competitive ang presyo abroad.

Maco Custodio. “It should be unique and encapsulate who Davao is. It should be distinctly from Davao. I saw that in the product of my choice. It’s very Davao, yet international (in appeal).”

D’Oro Barandino. “My basis for judging is the use of a clever concept infused in the design. Something original and something I haven’t seen before. I think the winning piece should be able to interpret something that comes from Davao. I was impressed with one entry. She was able to interpret a very distinctive Davao item into a product, but very unique manner. It doesn’t look ethnic. It looked very global. Once you look at it, it bears the silhouette of very distinctive Davao product.

Cary Santiago. “For me, it has to be a piece you can wear daily. A piece you can wear not just for one occasion. A winning piece should not be heavy. Something you can put in your bag and pull out to wear it. A piece that can be sold internationally. It has to be both visually appealing and marketable right away, which is the ultimate aim of the contest.”

Congratulations, winners! Take your creations to the international market.


The finalists in the Professional category- Joan Salaver, M. Tanoy Furniture; Juvey Fernandez, T’nalak Home; Yvette Celi, Yvett’es Bags & Beads; Eileen Sitkar, Emilia’s Jewellery; Carmaela Alcantara, Crystal Seas.

The finalists in the Hobbyist category


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Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com.

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.