Jen Rimaz weaves old and new with a seamless sense of purpose
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
JEN Rimaz easily stands out in a crowd. Fresh-faced with a spunky pixie cut, not to mention, wearing ensembles that though subdued have an inherent tasteful and striking quality to it, she’s a head-turner wherever she goes. Jen’s fashion statement speaks a lot about her — with an affinity for darker tones, she finds beauty in the unconventional and weaves it with artistic prowess, giving it a voice of its own.
An artist at heart since she was young, over the years Jen has dabbled in creative pursuits such as tattoo artistry, graphic design and, for the love of music, being a DJ. She is always seeking and coming up with new projects to get her hands into, and then just last year, added a new item to her growing list of credentials — that of apparel designer, as she founded her own clothing line, Blanqtribe.
It is more than just a growing fashion house, though, and its name more than just lip service. Jen fashioned Blanqtribe in such a way that it is a social enterprise, as she makes use of handwoven fabric from local tribes, ultimately an enabler of livelihood for such groups. “Being part Filipino and having seen the social divide between the well-off and the poor, I felt this need to give back. I (also) wanted to create an awareness of the disappearing tribes and their traditions,” she said
Jen has toyed with the idea of designing clothes for a long time, but integrating indigenous fabrics only came recently, after seeing how such fabrics, all delicately and intricately made, present a wave of new options for her designs. At the same realizing how doing so allows her to help preserve a dying age-old tradition among local artisans.
“I was amazed at how they want to continue to keep their traditions alive and how warm and open they are to share them,” she said. “It’ll be cool to make people aware that (these tribes) are still around.”
Blanqtribe’s upcoming spring-summer 2015 collection for women will feature fabrics from home-based weaving enterprises in Abra, Mountain Province and Mindoro – and Jen said she is hoping for collaboration with more tribes in the future. She has also created a partnership with Anthill Fabric Gallery, which focuses on the same advocacy, and is also working on a crowd-funding campaign for her venture through online platform Indiegogo.
Growing up, Jen had the privilege to call a couple of countries home thanks to her dad’s work. Born in Switzerland, she has also resided in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States before moving to the Philippines, her mother’s homeland, 12 years ago. Her travels have likewise exposed her to countless styles, some of it now visible in her work: clean, crisp cuts injected with Asian street fashion. “It’s eccentric but I toned it down so people can relate to it better,” she said. “I try to stick to minimalist styles, so women will feel comfortable in what they’re wearing — comfortable and sexy, but not too out there.”
Though Jen has her hands full with Blanqtribe these days, she said she still makes it a point to balance it with her other interests like DJing, which she has actively been into since 2011 playing in the local clubbing circuit. Tattoo design has also been one of her fortes for nearly 10 years now, with most of her clients based in Switzerland. But working with the basics — pen and paper — has always remained a constant in her life even since a young age, and Jen said, “When I do draw and design, I can do it for hours on end.”
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome | Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas | Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Locale: F Café