Clothes and bag by KM43

With world travel and ethnic motifs inspiring one of spring 2019’s biggest trends, the launch of KM43 is certainly well-timed. Designed by Kana Manglapus, a former Venice, Calif., gallery owner and Los Angeles home furnishings retailer, the apparel and accessories line is made with textiles woven by indigenous tribes of her home country, the Philippines.

A California native who moved back to the Philippines two years ago, Manglapus was first inspired to source a native camouflage textile used in a vintage jacket she bought at a surf shop in Venice Beach.

Once she began sourcing, she discovered natural fiber textiles woven by tribes such as the Maranao, one of three indigenous Muslim groups native to the island of Mindanao, and the Itneg tribe, who live in the mountains on the island Luzon.

Designer Kana Manglapus, left, with Carol Ann Emquies wearing KM43 at the Roseark launch.  Courtesy image

One of the latter tribe’s spirit animals, the eagle, is a frequent embroidery motif in KM43, as is the frog, which symbolizes abundance and prosperity.

From these textiles, Manglapus designed smocked minis, tops, ponchos, drawstring pants and shorts, as well as silk camisoles and jumpsuits.

For the fanny packs, pouches and weekender bags, she used an abaca fiber textile created by the T’boli tribe of Mindanao. Retail prices range from $110 to $495.

For now, the line sells exclusively in West Hollywood boutique and gallery Roseark, where it lives among other limited-edition items such as fine jewelry by K. Brunini and Anndra Neen as well as the eponymous line designed by Roseark owner Kathy Rose.

But Manglapus, herself an accomplished photographer, is slowly building the brand’s Instagram following much the same way she curates gallery shows, and she doesn’t rule out selling direct-to-consumer via the social media platform.

“The goal is to be able to grow the line to be profitable but still exclusive. Because everything is handmade, I’ll never be able to mass produce, but the individuality of each piece is part of its appeal,” she said.

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