(SPOT.ph) While working at posh department store Harvey Nichols in London back in 2007, Kat Erro had a eureka moment: more than designer labels, it was really the quality of goods that would guarantee repeat purchases. Armed with this realization, Erro, who was already a stylist and makeup artist then, enrolled in courses to hone skills that she could put tsavvoward a dream fashion business. And when she moved back to Manila in 2009, Katré Fashion House was born—brought to life “with no [formal] business and design background,” attests Erro, “just passion and tenacity.”
Katré initially offered ready-to-wear, fashion accessories, and even synthetic totes. “Many visits to Marikina and many sketches after, I introduced Katré's first leather piece in 2011—the City Tote, a 'naked' handbag that showed the beautiful characteristics of leather; no lining, just 100% leather. It wasn't an instant hit, but I never gave up on that design; that bag brought us to where we are today,” shares Erro.
The introduction of the signature, high quality City Tote established Katré's niche in 2011; and as early as 2012, Erro was already designing the early iterations of the vintage hat box-inspired Boite, well ahead of the popular round handbag trend.
Today, Katré celebrates its 10th year as a proudly local leather bag brand beloved by the stylish set for its modern craftsmanship, inspired creativity, and personalization. At the brand’s anniversary celebration on November 20, Erro's list of thank yous included friends and family who have supported Katré through the years, her team and the craftsmen she works with, customers who have become friends and later on brand ambassadors (“those who shared about us, and those who didn't, so they can keep us a secret!”), and celebrity fans who took a chance on an unknown brand, “driving strangers to our website and filling our inbox with inquiries.”
In celebration of its anniversary, Katré is introducing a beautiful new collection of quilted totes in new colors. The quilted design is inspired by the duvet that gave Erro comfort when she was still in London and she had to endure the cold winter nights. The quilted Thames camera bag, Baby Boite, and Mini Mini Boite come in new shades of Chamomile (a bright sunshine yellow), Earl Grey (a powdery blue-gray), and Matcha (earthy green), another ode to England. “[Naming the bags after tea] It's reminiscent of my first afternoon tea during a tour of Leeds Castle in the U.K.,” Erro shares.
For their anniversary, Katré is also bringing back the classic City Tote, now available in basic neutrals as well as vibrant hues.
Paying It Forward
In gratitude for 10 fruitful years, Erro is marking their anniversary by giving back. “We partnered with Mano Amiga to help empower low-income families to break out of poverty by giving scholarships to deserving kids, dahil edukasyon ang solusyon,” shares Erro. Mano Amiga, which translates to “helping hand,” is an affordable K-12 school with international standards which provides scholarships and sustainable livelihood for low-income families. Katré believes in Mano Amiga's vision of a quality education that does not discriminate.
Customers can help in two ways: For every purchase of a Katré X Mano Amiga Canvas Tote, all profits go directly to the school to fund education. In addition, for every full-price purchase of a Katré leather bag, a corresponding backpack to be designed by Erro herself will be donated in your name to a Mano Amiga student for the school year 2020 to 2021.
Mano Amiga Philippines' visionary founder Lynn Pinugu shares, “We're so grateful for our partnerships, especially like this one with Katré. I was listening to her story, and that's the same dream we want for these kids—yes, Erro didn't have a background in design, but she still had the tenacity to pursue it; and in Mano Amiga, we really believe that where you start in life shouldn't limit where you end up in.”
Pierra Calasanz-Labrador is a former magazine editor turned freelance writer, stylist, and author of two poetry books (The Heartbreak Diaries and Dear Universe). A staunch advocate of pretty, Filipino finds, follow her local treasure hunt on Instagram.