The idea for VINTA Gallery was conceptualized by Caroline Mangosing, who at the time, was the executive director (and founder) of Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture in Toronto (2007-2015), a registered Canadian charity. As the only active and accessible Filipino cultural centre in the city, she often was yielding a lot of calls from Filipino-Canadian moms looking for traditional Filipino "costumes" for their kids to wear to multi-cultural events at school. Since Caroline has close ties back in the Philippines, she set on starting a social enterprise within Kapisanan that would provide the cultural product to the market in Toronto and Canada. After much research, she realized that the demand wasn't just for children's Filipino "costumes," but rather formal Filipiñana. So many 2nd generation Filipinos are turning to their culture for their wedding inspiration, especially Filipino-Canadians who are marrying into a different culture.
Since 2009 VINTA Gallery's Filipiñana fashion collection has been incubated and developed within Kapisanan. Through the incubation of this enterprise, it was clear that there was also a need to ensure that the business also provides a living wage for the artisans who made the products. Because there is this great opportunity to corner a niche market within one of the largest and most exploitative industries in the world, the fashion industry, the approach the company has taken is the opposite. At VINTA we believe that sustainability for the business is tied to the sustainability of the people whose hands are creating the end product.
Now wearing Filipiñana for your office holiday party or wedding doesn't mean bead-dazzled fuchsia butterfly sleeved ball gowns and ill-fitting barongs anymore. VINTA Filipiñana Collection is inspired to bring back the chic and glamour of the past, but with the subtlety and high quality fit of modern custom made fashion.
Bolstered by positive reactions from friends and the community, VINTA Gallery launched its first signature collection of modern ternos and barongs at the inaugural Canada Philippine Fashion Week in Toronto, in 2013.
In 2015, Caroline stepped away from her executive director position at Kapisanan Philippine Centre. She has now taken VINTA Gallery with her to expand the business into an ethical for-profit business. VINTA continues to be produced in the Philippines in an atelier system, providing opportunities for artisans and crafts people to build their skills (through apprenticeship), at the same time, earn a sustainable living wage and being a part of supporting the preservation of Filipino traditions in embroidery, weaving, and other handicrafts.
THE WOMEN BEHIND THE BRAND
Caroline Mangosing, lives in Toronto, Canada, and Ria Limjap, the head of Philippine operations for VINTA, lives in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila. The two met in their early 20s at the Limjap Family Reunion held in the Our Lady of Assumption campus in Antipolo in 2001. They met there and found out that they are 5th cousins...or something like that. Caroline extended her trip and ended up working with Cosmopolitan Magazine, shooting editorials with Ria, who was the beauty editor at the time. As the years went on, they remained great friends, and whenever Caroline would go to the Philippines (her parents moved back there when she was in college), they would travel around together, work together when opportunities presented themselves (more fashion magazine editorials, feature films, etc).
In Ria's work in the fashion industry, she met Lita Lagman. Lita is a master couturier who has been in the couture industry in Manila for over 30 years, working with many big name designers. Since the early 2000s both Ria and Caroline would call on Lita to make them custom clothing. Lita eventually made Caroline's wedding dress in 2004, after she sent an technical sketch through Ria. The dress arrived in a Fed-Ex box, PERFECT. When Caroline approached Ria about creating the brand, both women only had Lita's name in mind. And the rest is history.