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No national costumes here: These 6 local clothing brands reimagine Filipiniana for today’s tastes

Amanda T. Lago

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No national costumes here: These 6 local clothing brands reimagine Filipiniana for today’s tastes

REIMAGINED. The classic terno gets an update with designs by brands like Tropik Beatnik and Ara Pilak.

Courtesy of Tropik Beatnik and Ara Pilak

From cropped ternos to playful barongs – update your wardrobe with wearable takes on traditional Filipino fashion

MANILA, Philippines – As a child of the ’90s, my first experience of Filipiniana was the stiff and scratchy Balintawak my mother dressed me in for our school’s Linggo ng Wika celebration. 

The dress – a grey a-line terno with silver beading outlining pink flowers – was as vintage as vintage could get. It belonged to my lola, who was so slim that something she wore in her early adulthood fit her chubby pre-teen granddaughter like a glove decades later. 

Back then, I thought the dress looked ancient and outdated – just a costume to wear for a school occasion – but recently, I’ve found myself thinking of it every time I look through my closet to pick out my clothes for the day. 

You see, like many people, I sold my soul to fast fashion years ago, and only recently woke up to the harrowing realization that at this point, my wardrobe is basically an H&M stockroom. My lola’s terno only reminds me of the elegance, whimsy, and originality that my current closet sorely lacks.

In an effort to rectify my painfully basic fashion choices, I decided to seek inspiration from Filipiniana. Trawling through old black-and-white photos of my lola, Manila carnival queens, the Fashionable Filipinas Instagram, and yes, the ABS-CBN Ball 2019 red carpet, I came to realize that our traditional silhouettes and fabrics are not only unique and undeniably beautiful, but they’re made for us in a way that no Uniqlo t-shirt or Shein bodycon dress could ever be.

I have also come to find that Filipiniana has come a long way from the itchy Linggo ng Wika costumes of our youth. These days, more and more brands and designers are making Filipiniana more accessible and more wearable, reworking national costume cornerstones like the terno or barong into contemporary pieces you can wear with anything.

Below are just some of those clothing brands carrying updated Filipiniana pieces that can transform your fit check from H&M-Bershka-Nike-Bershka-Uniqlo-Uniqlo to something way more original and special. 

(Budol warning: budgets were harmed in the making of this listicle)

Ara Pilak

Made of upcycled flour sacks, Ara Pilak’s pieces are casual, colorful, and because they’re cut from different pieces of fabric, literally one-of-a-kind. Their cropped terno top, the Mariang Baro, pairs easily with jeans or shorts and, when worn with their matching wraparound skirt, can turn you into a vision right out of an Amorsolo painting. It’s giving modern dalagang Pilipina.

Tropik Beatnik

Known for their colorful statement earrings, Tropik Beatnik has recently branched out into clothing – and their pieces are as bold and bright as you’d expect from the brand. Their Tropik Wear collection carries a color-block organza top with an open back and oversized butterfly sleeves that recalls a traditional kimona – minus the Linggo ng Wika feels. Speaking of kimona – the brand also partnered with Anthill Fabric Gallery for a kimona and saya set as part of a fundraising collection for Anthill’s resident seamstress, Ate Belen.

Nolan Atelier

I know this list is full of modern terno tops but that’s also because in the realm of traditional Philippine dress, it’s probably the piece that’s easiest to modernize without committing some sort of cultural appropriation. Nolan Atelier’s take on the terno is classy and a little bit spicy – something a little dressier that you can wear to that important presentation, an anniversary date, or to your graduation.

Studio Süg

If you want a subtler interpretation of “modern Filipiniana,” this is the brand to check out. Curated by Chavacano-Tausug stylist Bea Constantino, Studio Süg is her love letter to Southern Mindanao, showcasing the region’s indigenous textiles into relaxed everyday pieces like polos, pants, sundresses, and shorts. 

Randolf Clothing

You probably never thought a barong could look like this. Randolf Clothing reimagines the traditional men’s formalwear by embellishing it with playful, sometimes irreverent embroidery that makes a statement. The label also takes in custom embroidery requests, so you can make your barong even more special and personal. 


Their tagline “inspired by tradition, intertwined with the contemporary” pretty much sums up the spirit of modern Filipiniana dressing. Going beyond reworked versions of the terno, Filip+Inna draws from fashion traditions from all over the Philippines. Their collections include panuelos, kamisas, sayas, as well as contemporary garments that incorporate the weaving and beading traditions of various indigenous groups.

If these brands prove anything, it’s that wearing Filipiniana doesn’t have to look like you’re about to perform the tinikling with a traditional dance troupe. With a little imagination and a discerning eye, you can wear your Pinoy pride on your butterfly sleeve every day – and your OOTDs will be all the better for it. –

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Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.