A globally acclaimed Filipino clothing brand inspired by indigenous dyeing techniques

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The online launch of fashion brand Eairth — a combination of the words “earth” and “air” — brings their story to a more accessible platform designed for thinkers and travelers. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Just as digital nomads are on the rise, it’s timely that local fashion brand Eairth just launched its e-commerce site eairth.ph. Founded eight years ago by Vivien Ramsay, known previously as Melissa Dizon, Eairth — a combination of the words “earth” and “air” — offers lived-in luxury clothing for thinkers and travelers. Its former strategy was focused on selling to international stockists, but Vivien, along with husband Edward Ramsay and friend Borgy Manotoc, has been busy revitalizing the brand so it can cater to anybody around the globe, most importantly the domestic market.

“We’ve all watched Eairth get global exposure,” says Manotoc, referring to the brand’s growing cult following in Tokyo, New York, and Manila. “We’re really proud of a Filipino brand being in major department stores around the world. It changes a lot of people’s impression of what you can do here because production here is something people don’t explore ever … I just wanted Eairth to be something accessible to the Philippines and Asia. It’s a tropical brand. We’re an island country; we live in Southeast Asia, it’s a beautiful place to build this image and lifestyle.”

Eairth-2.jpg Eairth is for, [according to Vivien Ramsay], “anybody who has some kind of sensitivity to his or her surroundings. They do things they desire and love, not what they should do.” Photo by RALPH MENDOZA

“Tropicalization” is a word often used to describe Eairth. It started when Ramsay read about a European in Bali who was astounded by nature’s force — “how things could just grow out of nothing like a vine would grow out of a crack in the wall.” The brand similarly aligns itself with nature’s flow. As Ramsay puts it, “The ethos of Eairth is really just making clothes that are very honest, pure, and sensitive. It is what it is. Some people will like it. Some people will really love it. There’s no in-between so it’s always been the same; it’s just now we’ve been able to open it up to a much larger audience.”

But the origins of Eairth’s aesthetics also came from a place where nature happened to have an unlikely pairing with rock iconography.

“I was on a hike by my aunt’s place in Puerto Galera and I came across the Mangyans,” she told The Philippine Star in a 2012 interview. “One of them was wearing a really beautiful, faded-out Mangyan garb, a skirt, with this old AC/DC tee-shirt.” From there, she picked up the dyeing technique that gave Eairth its recognizable shade — a faded out color that came from the washing practices of the Mangyans of Puerto Galera.

1 (1).jpg “The ethos of Eairth is really just making clothes that are very honest, pure, and sensitive. It is what it is," says Eairth founder Vivien Ramsay. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

Its audience, according to Ramsay, is “anybody who has some kind of sensitivity to his or her surroundings. They do things they desire and love, not what they should do.”

This core philosophy is something she applied to her own circumstances when she left her post as Levi’s Global Director in New York, the city where she lived most of her life. It came to a point she regards as the apotheosis of jadedness, which is why she took the leap of faith and moved back to Manila. For her, it’s a place where anything is possible.

Back home, Ramsay lived in Makati then relocated to Subic. She describes her new home by the sea as having tons of foliage and a great oxygen level, where noise and pollution are distant acquaintances, where industrial zones are nearby friends. Amid her chosen environment, Ramsay practices “self-healing,” a process of recovery guided by instinct. She doesn’t take medicines, not even aspirin. She nourishes her maladies, say a cough or cold, with natural goods such as turmeric and ginger.

IMG_4310-2.jpg “Tropicalization” is a word often used to describe Eairth. It started when Ramsay read about a European in Bali who was astounded by nature’s force — “how things could just grow out of nothing like a vine would grow out of a crack in the wall.” Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

She does the same to her clothes, dyeing them with natural pigment. For example, she achieves an almost-black by using Indian almond leaves.

Applying the same philosophy — from silky camisoles to heavy hoodies that bear the charm of nature’s wear and tear — Eairth continues to carry its imprint of rootedness which is now possible to expand within the region as well as to farther places. The brand is ready and so is the market.

By seizing this alignment of values through digital real estate, Eairth is expected to meet a bigger community. Ramsay believes that brand survival can only happen with a bounty of integrity, belief and friends — friends that say, “I love the shirt you gave!” “That keeps me going,” she says. “It’s like a human thing. Animals do it, they have an animal support system where they howl at each other and have signs to help the other get some food or shelter. It’s the same idea. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s not hard — it’s a lot of love work.”

IMG_4784-3.JPG “Greatness is not about a name. Greatness is about doing something that people receive with love, that people covet.” Photo by RALPH MENDOZA

2 (1).jpg The idea for Eairth came from Ramsay's trip in Puerto Galera, where she saw a Mangyan girl wearing a vintage AC/DC T-shirt stained and washed in the same pot of water where she cooked sweet potato. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

If there’s anything Levi’s taught [Ramsay], it’s that money is not the answer to anything. “Greatness is not about a name. Greatness is about doing something that people receive with love, that people covet,” she says. Ramsay likens authentic brands to wet markets because in those settings, sellers are able to trade what they’re best at producing. “What makes a really good brand is when you hone in on that thing that is you — not anything else, not what people are doing, not what’s in style, not what’s on-trend. It has nothing to do with that because you’re just doing your thing.”

Eairth is at that stage where it has established what it’s good at. Now, it’s riding the next wave — into the wireless cloud — an exciting dichotomy between being everywhere and in the middle of nowhere.

“That’s why I surf. When I’m in the water — that feeling — that’s like my sickest drop. It’s the most healing thing ever. Every time I’m sick, I jump into the salt water. It takes everything away. To be able to surf and catch a wave, it’s like you’re fucking the universe. Think about it.”