Shoppers and patrons of Filipino craftsmanship were pleased to see the virtual return of ArteFino in April, more than a year after the fair was temporarily mothballed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Heralding ArteFino’s return was an exclusive limited collection dubbed “Summer Escape.”
“Summer Escape” gathered a unique and diverse range of local craft, from fashion and home accessories to everyday essentials made with indigenous materials, and were only available on shop.TheRockwellist.com, Power Plant Mall’s e-commerce website.
Spotlighted in the digital pop-up were ArteFino brands that promote the livelihood of Filipino communities, including Rags2Riches, halohalo and Touch of Craft. The products, many of which were sold out, included play mats, wraps, bags, lampshades, storage boxes, soap, jewelry and footwear.
“Summer Escape” also has a pop-up counterpart at Power Plant Mall’s R1 Level that allows shoppers to personally check out the items; all purchases, however, still have to be made via shop.TheRockwellist. com.
ArteFino provides a platform for artisans to showcase local culture through sustainably sourced and crafted products. In these challenging times, it recognizes the need amongst local craftsmen to continue to have a venue to offer their wares.
“It’s the first time we’ve curated a virtual capsule collection,” said Mercedes “Cedie” Lopez Vargas (MLV), cofounder of ArteFino alongside Marimel Francisco, Maritess Pineda, Mita Rufino and Susie Quiros. ArteFino held its first two events at 8 Rockwell before moving to what was supposed to be its permanent home, The Fifth at Rockwell, in 2019.
“It just kept getting bigger year after year,” recalled Tracey Castillo, Rockwell Land assistant vice president (AVP) for residential and retail development, whose team worked with ArteFino to put “Summer Escape” together.
With the COVID-19 pandemic scuttling plans for a 2020 edition, the teams had to find another platform. As Rockwell has been the home of ArteFino since its inception, the logical step was for them to bring the partnership to the digital space. The result was an exclusive limited collection that they made available on shop.TheRockwellist.com last month.
“It was pretty much all virtual this year,” said MLV, who also serves as head of Lopez Group Foundation Inc. “This digital pop-up with Rockwell encompassed and brought forth what ArteFino is all about—responding to what’s relevant, most especially this year, whether we’d be showcasing local artisans, bringing more focus to community livelihood, social enterprise, and promoting what speaks to the consumer in terms of environmental and mindful sustainability.”
“It made it more interesting since we were able to bring something novel yet familiar to our market,” Castillo noted, adding that the new collaboration was enthusiastically received.
“We were able to engage our patrons, especially as it’s an exclusive collection on shop.therockwellist.com; we’ve even received product inquiries from abroad,” she shared.
As the pied pipers for Filipino craftmanship, the challenge for ArteFino lies in shifting the sensibility and aesthetics of the Filipino contemporary lifestyle, bringing to the market a pared-down sensibility in keeping with the prevailing mood and times while simultaneously continuing to highlight artisanal and social entrepreneurship.
Castillo admitted that translating a shopping event that people were used to physically attending required a lot of creativity.
“We are talking about thousands of people a day in the previous years—how do we get the same level of interest during this time? We wanted to still provide a unique experience even if patrons are unable to see the products live,” she said.
The Rockwell Land AVP cited the ArteFino group for being “very supportive.”
“From merchandising to production, down to the last styling detail and proper planning, they all made a big impact. The on-site activation at Power Plant Mall further complemented the campaign—it drove awareness and gave customers the opportunity to see and feel an item, which is still key when it comes to some retail categories, especially for fashion,” she explained.
The ArteFino and Rockwell proponents thanked their patrons, especially Lopez Group kapamilya, for always supporting their initiatives.
“We hope to have more opportunities that will promote local talent, a shared vision we all have in the Lopez Group, and at the same time address the needs of our market,” Castillo said.
“The Lopez Group has always been part of the Rockwell community and has always supported ArteFino and its various advocacies. We’d like to be able to engage with them more, whether it’s patronizing products, bringing more awareness, and even participating in the showcase,” MLV said.
“Overall, Artefino x Rockwell is a good opportunity since everything is online. It provides us a virtual platform to showcase products that are mindfully made and socially conscious,” she added.