From bits to pieces: making an impact with Neil & Marter’s handmade wearable art

Neil & Marter aims to influence people in supporting the slow and ethical fashion movement through handcrafted accessories using upcycled materials. The brand is launching a crowdfunding campaign to introduce a limited-edition collection together with artisans from Marikina City

A startup fashion brand proves that it’s possible to be socially and environmentally responsible in a fast fashion-driven world.

Neil & Marter was born out of curiosity and environmental wellness by interior designer Mark Boni Marter and aspiring fashion designer Neil Capistrano.

It started with the abundance of scrap materials from Bon’s interior design studies. Conscious of how fashion waste hurts the planet, they thought of maximizing the use of oddments of genuine vegan leather and fabrics to create wearable art.

Armed with basic leather crafting tools and techniques, the creative duo produced their first batch as gifts to family members  “At first, I wanted to craft everyday accessories like bags, wallets, and cardholders out of Bon’s luxury leather collection,” Neil shares. “One day, my mom requested a pair of earrings for her, my aunts, and cousins. We had fun with the learning process and ended up making 25 pairs.” 

This led them to venture into an ethical fashion social enterprise that caters to modern and eco-conscious fashionistas who value the origin and process behind the brands and products that they support.

While they have different art styles, Neil and Bon share their love for personal self-expression through ethical fashion, making a positive impact on the environment, and a strong desire to create opportunities for the local crafting community.

Bon explains, “I’m into modern pop art, art deco, and abstract while Neil likes contemporary art and minimalism. At Neil & Marter we infuse our preferences with architectural details and symbolic representations of cultural diversity. We conceptualize and execute designs ourselves, handcrafting each one with care.”

“Being mindful in using leather and fabric scraps is one of our core values,” adds Neil. “People throw away the excess or off-cuts but we save every bit and try to incorporate it in our future designs. This extends to our choice of hang tags and packaging.”

Their three collections of artful dangles feature food and pop culture references: Whimsical (Kabuki- & Oblina-inspired), Juvenescence (Legos and Rubix cube), and Food for the Soul (breakfast food items and fruits). These unconventional but chic pieces caught the attention of fashion editors from various publications, social media influencers, as well as ANC’s On The Money Entrep Lab.

The brand is currently expanding its product line with mixed medium repurposed accessories of patchworks, geometric bags, and wearable art shoes. The Cattle’s Cradle collection will be launched and exclusively available for purchase through a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign on the Spark Project website starting October 28, 2020. The items will be produced in collaboration with women artisans of Marikina City who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with campaign supporters receiving their limited edition pieces by December 2020.

Beyond the aesthetic statement products, Neil & Marter strives to redesign how people think about fashion, renew the appreciation for our local makers, and restore people’s confidence in self-expression. They are in the business of saving the earth (and the creative industry), one piece at a time.

Find @neilmarter on Facebook and Instagram.

Author: Gel Jose

Manic Pixie Dream Girl Wannabe, Imagineer, Foodie, TV Addict and Lifelong Learner

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