DJANGO LEATHER ART AND CRAFTS
Django Leather Art and Crafts was established in Boracay in 1993 by Antonio 'Django' Valmores, a musician from the north of Mindanao. With a passion for leather, Django tenderly put together unique stylish bags from residue leather materials. Django range of products expanded to briefcases, travel bags, bike helmets, shoes, and other fashion accessories over the years. All products are handcrafted with ultimate care and creativity.
Django artisanal bags remain to have their distinctive character today. Each design is the product of creative ingenuity and fine artistry of rural youth employed in the social enterprise.
Django stands for functionality and durability, and ensures comfort and personality suited to one's lifestyle.
ANTONIO 'DJANGO' VALMORES
Django is an artist who got his arts formation being a theatre scholar during his college days as a Forest Management student in Marawi, Mindanao in the Philippines. He loved creating his own costumes, picking up waste materials and converting the into functional items. During his many years of traveling around the Philippines from music to arts festivals, he was inspired by artists on the street and on stage, creating beauty and originality with little means.
Leather became his passion, the smell and feel of the material, and transforming it into simple unique shapes with a purpose.
"I love leather! Every time I see a nice bag, I want to smell it and hold it. Leather is a durable material that has been used for ages for instruments and clothes. Tracing the roots and customs of many tribes, leather has been a medium for transporting things, storing food, carrying the children, rites and music. Leather keeps you grounded and close to the nature."
His dream was to make his hobby his source of income.
In 1993, Django bought in Bulacan a sack of scrap leather with a start capital of P15 (one fourth of a Euro) with a desire of making leather shoes and bags. With drive and passion he connected the small bits and created his leather products, every piece with its own shape and character. From scrap leather he sewed wallets and bags, he re-used leather of second hand bags, and waste material for bracelets and accessories.
His business grew when he moved to Boracay. He combined his leather items with drift wood, shells and other objects he found on the beach. Right on top of a creek he settled and built his shop, planting mangroves and coconut trees around it. With the capital he earned over the years he was able to purchase better quality of leather and tools, and started developing travel bags and shoes.
Seeing Boracay develop without much progress for the local folks in and around the island, he sough some out of school youth to join him.
He taught them the skills of sewing the bags, and designing with precision and style. The youngsters developed confidence and sheer craftsmanship.
In Manila, Django joined Mara's Organic Market where he displays his products, customizes his handmade products; bags moccasins, and produces belts and wallets how his customers want them.
Meanwhile he entertains the crowd with djembe expression and native instruments for the varied crowd, with artists gathering around Django's booth and joining in the gig; bikers, health buffs and Sunday dwellers.
He started producing leather helmets and some bikers would bring their bikes for an on the spot leather decoration. While ideas and products expand, his products remain authentic and distinctive.
Today Django Leather Art and Crafts employs 6 young workers. He is based in Manila.