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). As the only active and accessible Filipino cultural centre in the city, she was often fielding a lot of phone calls from Filipino-Canadian mothers looking for traditional Filipino "costumes" for their kids to wear during multi-cultural events at school. Because of Caroline's close ties back in the Philippines, she embarked on a journey to create 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 Filipiniana. A wave of second generation Filipinos are turning to their culture for wedding inspiration, especially Filipino-Canadians who are marrying into a different culture.
Since 2009, VINTA Gallery 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.
“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 Filipiniana for your office holiday party or wedding doesn't mean bead-dazzled, fuchsia butterfly-sleeved ball gowns and ill-fitting barongs anymore. VINTA Gallery 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 (2013).
In 2015, Caroline retired 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), while at the same time, earn a sustainable living wage and participate in the support of the preservation and innovation of Filipino traditions in clothing, embroidery, weaving, and other handicrafts.
The Women Behind the Brand
Caroline Mangosing lives in Toronto, Canada, while Estelita Lagman lives and works in Manila as VINTA Gallery’s master couturier. Estelita has been in the couture industry in Manila for over 30 years, having worked with high profile Manila-based fashion designers, and then eventually working for herself with a loyal clientele. Meeting through a mutual friend, Estelita eventually made Caroline's wedding dress in 2004, after Caroline sent a technical sketch of her dress design via email through her mom. The dress arrived in a Fed-Ex box, PERFECT. Although it took 10 years, Caroline promised Estelita that she would create a company that would highlight her talent to the world. And the rest is history.