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#LifeLokal: Why Cariño isn't just another local linen brand

By Camille Santiago Published Apr 08, 2022 11:55 am

Cariño is living proof that timeless is anything but boring or dull.

Founded by former schoolmates Gianne Vasquez and Shayne Ting, Cariño is a local fashion brand that sells minimalistic resortwear-slash-loungewear pieces for every day, no matter what the ocassion is.

Gianne, whose mom is into garment-making, first got inspired to create a label of her own as she couldn't find that much affordable quality pieces in the local market. "Parang it could be so much better. [My mom] had so much feedback to give on it," she told PhilSTAR L!fe, recalling about the clothes she'd find in bazaars.

Putting this into mind, there was only one person to ask to be part of this: her Company of Ateneo Dancers (CADS) teammate, Shayne. Being the entrepreneur that she is, Shayne "couldn't pass up on it" and immediately said yes to the idea.

"I really love linen clothes. I believe that there was an opportunity to grab talaga kasi there was a space for Cariño to be in the market," she said. "Kasi during that time—siguro mga 2018-2019—the famous [linen] brands were very expensive. And as students, fresh grads out of college, parang syempre we share that struggle na we wanted to be fashionable in linen clothes, but also didn't have that much disposable income to use," she recalled.

And so, Cariño was born. 

The less-than-three-year-old local brand creates "timeless pieces for every man and woman." They use 90% deadstock fabric—which are hard to source, according to the owners—and are on a made-to-order basis.

PhilSTAR L!fe ask Shayne and Gianne to share more about their growing brand and how they keep their brand different from other linen labels.

Cariño co-founders Gianne Vasquez and Shayn Ting

When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Shayne: I think I had the entrepreneurial spirit since I was young. I just knew that I wanted to start my own business. Back in college, I would sell small items on Ateneo Trade, and I would use my allowance as capital to buy items, sell it on Ateneo Trade, and then use the profits for weekend gimmicks or like weekly expenses. 

Gianne: For me naman, in terms of entrepreneur, I think it was instilled to me at a very young age. Both of my parents are have their own businesses as well. My dad’s an architect and then my mom also, she was in garments, actually. 

What's the story behind the brand's name?

Gianne: When we were going through we wanted this brand to be, we were thinking, “who’s our target market? How do we want people to feel when they're wearing our clothes?” So that's how kind of how we came up with Cariño. Because cariño in Spanish, it's like a term of endearment. It's sort of like how you would call someone 'babe', or it's a very affectionate name, but then also since Spanish is romantic, it also has like spiciness and sexiness to it.

How has being a Filipino influence your brand?

Shayn: Our brand really is inspired by our climate, the way of living by Filipinos in our country. Us personally, we don't use woven fabrics like pinya. But, you know, we still utilize breezy, woven natural fabrics like cotton and linen that works with functionality and style, also on how young Filipinas live in the present.

And I guess this is since it's so hot here talaga in the Philippines, resortwear is everyday wear. So we grabbed that space for us to be present in and then we played from there.

And then if you look closer to our designs, you'll see our buttons, we use coconut buttons or we use shell buttons. But besides making this brand, Gi and I wanted to position ourselves to be really affordable, at the same time, you know, still good quality. 

There are so many competitive brands within the world of fashion right now, how do you make your brand stand out from the rest?

Gianne: Yeah, especially lately there's been like so many small brands that have popped up in the very similar space, in the same resort, easy linen look. But then it always comes down to the fit, the quality of fabrics, and then the style.

Cariño actually uses 90% of our fabrics are from deadstock fabric, so this is the fabric that you can’t really get on easy rotation, not something that you can reorder again. And I think our customers also recognize that from us because that's always a constant feedback that we get is the quality of fabric isn't like other Instagram shops that they've come across on from before.

As for the fit naman, we tried to create styles, as much as possible or more like flattering to all different kinds of body types. And obviously we have bodies, a piece of clothing always fit a person different talaga, even if you guys have the same measurements, it's always going to be a little bit different on everybody.

So that's why we understand that so we also allow for that customizations, like if they want it to be specific to their measurements, that's something that we also catered to. 

We want [our clothes] to be like a canvas for expressing themselves so they can style it however they want to. — Gianne

And then also like they come to us and let us know like, “Oh it doesn't fit properly.” And we also allow for our alteration. So in the end ,kind of we don't want to just say have you buy a piece of clothing and never wear it. I think that's something that we try our best to do like, “Okay, if something's not right, what can we do so that you're still gonna be happy with it?” You're still gonna wear it—maybe not on the daily, but then it's going to be in your rotation of clothing.

Going back to the style naman, like what Shayn mentioned, we always try to go back to more timeless silhouettes, timeless cuts that are not really so much on the trendy side, so you can wear it like five years from now. That's kind of how we base our designs on. And then we also tried to see like, “Can it be worn like, multiple ways or can it be adjustable so that it fits a person's body?”

Gi and I wanted to position ourselves to be really affordable, at the same time, you know, still good quality.  — Shayne

Do you consider your brand as a sustainable brand?

Gianne: Actually, when I think about it now, I don't think we use sustainable buzzwords in any of our communications. I think it's more something that we imbibe. Because when you think about sustainability, basically when it comes down to it, it's there, like reducing your waste and consumption. 

Like our first few collections we had it pre-sewn, but then like we also noticed like for some sizes, some styles, there would be stock left. So that's when we went to pre-order model, which honestly has worked well for us so far. We thought it was gonna create like a barrier, I guess, for people to purchase. But then, I think because our designs also resonate with a lot of people.

Shayne: I think Gi and I both know, if you want to go faster and bigger, we have to think the answer is having on stock. But then we want to keep the sustainability aspect nga kasi na we don't waste any tela, we don't waste stock...

I think with this pre order basis, sustainability framework, I guess it would help us be more flexible and agile when we redesign our items. 

How do you want your customers to feel when they're wearing your clothes?

Shayn: We really want our customers to feel comfy, confident when they wear out pieces. It's really the brand name talaga na we always go back to.

Gianne: When we were thinking how people would want to feel in our clothing, obviously we want them to feel comfortable, to feel good and confident in their own skin. So that's how it kinda became Cariño because we wanted them to feel like a babe when they’re wearing our clothing.

if you look at our designs, our clothing, it can be like your basic wear. So that's how like we also want people that are wearing our clothing to feel like. We want it to be like a canvas for, I guess, expressing themselves so they can style it however they want to, they can dress it up, dress it down, like make it as a whole different look like with different accessories. 

So just creating not plain, but then simple, clean, aesthetic clothes to dress however, you want to express your style is kind of what we want people to feel. Because at the end of the day, you can only really feel confident in your own skin when you're also wearing clothes in the way that you want to wear them, diba? Everyone puts their own flair in the way that they dress.

Shayne: And I guess for Gi and I, we are interested to see how our customers wear our clothes. Because when we started the brand, we were thinking of resortwear, wearing tit o the beach, and then after a while, we're seeing customers wear clothes now for formal events, on date nights. It's amazing and how our customers use clothes to express themselves in different ways.