For a city that’s on the rise financially, you’ll hardly find anyone
in head-to-toe luxury goods in Cebu. Most people here dress in a way
that matches the place’s vibe: laidback, but still swaggering with
One Sunday afternoon, over beads and longboards, Carla Herrera,
designer of new local accessories line Alahas, and Bien de Asis,
part-owner of popular surfing apparel brand Aframe Clothing, show you
that when it comes to mixing high and low, Cebuanos are effortlessly
“I have been making (or trying to make), not only fashion jewelry but clothes, purses, slippers and other such accessories since I was in high school. In retrospect, my attraction for making crafts stemmed not only from my love for them but also for the challenge to re-create/create them. Therefore, the decision was not really to become a jewelry designer, but to indulge in and better my craft making,” shares Carla.
Looking at her pieces, you can see that they have an organic feel, and they were made with hands that cared for quality. “My favorite kind of material to work with right now is pearls. Pearls of different shapes, sizes and color,” she adds.
They are versatile enough to add impact when worn whether over a plain shirt or a cocktail dress. Carla quips, “On top of having the power to make or break an outfit, jewelry can emphasize one’s personal style and confirm one’s personal taste.”
After taking a spin around the street on a longboard, Bien joins in the conversation. Before getting into how he kick started six year-old Aframe Clothing, he explains how he discovered surfing, “Way before, we were already skimboarding in Liloan. And then in 2005, our good friend and colleague Boeing took us to the most amazing place called Lanuza to try out surfing. From then on, we never looked back.”
Following their new found passion was the idea to build a clothing label that catered to their needs. “Surfing for us is not a sport; it’s a way of life. For us, we are not only standing on a wave, we are walking into life. The ride is pure bliss that it becomes so important, you end up planning everything you do around it,” Bien says.
He remarks that surfing “influences the way we dress, what music we listen to…..everything for us is all about that moment when you’re out there dancing with the ocean.”
Indeed, you’ll find that it’s evident in their brand that they stand for not just locally made products, but also a unique lifestyle choice. And beach lovers from all walks of life have noticed. Over the years, Aframe has expanded into the only group in Cebu that holds surfing events, surfing tutorial services and surfboard production.
Carla agrees: “I want my pieces to reflect my heritage and showcase the many different kinds of materials and crafts that are unique to and abundant in my hometown and my country as a whole. Wherever it will go and whatever it becomes, I want Alahas to be a display of first class Filipino talent and taste.”
As the sun began to sink behind the trees, both Carla and Bien pack up. Poster kids of south side living, they break into easy smiles before saying goodbye. From her floral summer dress, pearl necklace and espadrilles, to his white tee and board shorts with solid graphics, you feel it–good vibes all around.
Photo credits: Kate Uy, Bien de Asis and Carla Herrera.
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