Get to Know Us: What Does VINTA Even Mean?

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Have you been following us on Instagram? If not, get on that!

We absolutely love this platform for reaching out directly to our followers and customers, sharing inspiration, our process, exciting launches, photos of the badass amazing #VINTASpotted ladies and gentlemen  wearing our pieces… and all that other fun stuff.

Our Instagram account handle is @vinta_to and our website is vintato.com, so when people discover us (and we have followers from all over the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe and the Philippines), naturally there can be a bit of confusion — what exactly does the “TO" stand for? Do you mean “VINTA ito,” which in English translates to “this is VINTA”? Is VINTA short for “vintage”? Does your fabric come from vintage materials?

We’re here to answer it all.

We’re an ethical and sustainable, slow fashion company that creates couture, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear modern Filipiniana and Filipino-inspired pieces. Based and designed in Toronto and ethically produced in the Philippines in our own atelier, the “TO” actually means “Toronto” in Ontario, Canada. So that’s that part.

We source all kinds of beautiful, unique hand-loomed textiles from across the Philippines (no vintage here), as well as imported fabrics. Each VINTA piece is hand-made by Filipino skilled craftspeople hand-sewing hens and buttonholes. Our team also flexes skills in hand-beading, hand-dyeing and hand-manipulated embroidery. The Toronto team works very closely with our atelier team in Manila (like long weekly video chat meetings). Led by VINTA’s master couturier, Estelita Lagman, the atelier system that we produce our garments in provides the workers with opportunities to build their skills through apprenticeship and earn a sustainable living wage with benefits. For example, Remy, who started with us three years ago, can now sew an entire piece all on her own, and she is now starting to learn how to draft patterns.

VINTA’s master couturier, Estelita Lagman; VINTA offers opportunities for growth through apprenticeship, offering sustainable living wages with benefits among the skilled workers

VINTA’s master couturier, Estelita Lagman; VINTA offers opportunities for growth through apprenticeship, offering sustainable living wages with benefits among the skilled workers

As for how we came up with the name VINTA, our founder and creative director Caroline Mangosing was inspired by the vinta traditional sailboats of the Moro and Sama-Bajau people from Zamboanga City, the Sulu Archipelago and southern Mindanao in the Philippines. The first thing you would notice about these traditional boats are its big, colourful sails, which represent the people’s rich culture and history of the Muslim community. The vinta boats were used for the transport of people and goods between local islands, which was crucial to the livelihoods of the Moro and Sama-Bajau people.

Vinta traditional boats oil on canvas by artist J. Bulaong 2012

Vinta traditional boats oil on canvas by artist J. Bulaong 2012

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So what does this have to do with VINTA Gallery?

What Caroline loved about the symbol of the vinta was that it unified the Philippine archipelago’s hundreds of indigenous cultures through trade — even before Spanish colonization. It also symbolized the character of the people of the archipelago as travellers and merchants in other parts of Southeast Asia. It’s small yet mighty, flamboyantly stylish and adventurous, all at the same time.

The idea behind VINTA and our mission is that connection.

It’s the sharing and exchanging of knowledge and cultures through the global Filipinx diaspora. It’s the interweaving in and out of the traditional and the modern and the ongoing learning, discovering and sharing that happens between people. It’s the slow, steady pace, the planned, thoughtful routes, the patience and the courage it takes to travel across oceans. It’s history and progress at the same time. It’s something proud, symbolic and unifying for Filipinxs everywhere.

Call us fashionalist, but that’s VINTA.

Learn more about the story of VINTA Gallery in our video below!