Vintage European style meets Filipino optimism and flair in the clothes of Studio Sampaguita, a pandemic-born initiative from the husband and wife team of Mark and Carin Aguas. The couple introduced themselves to Filipino stylistas a few years back via their Masanting Sastreria, a haberdashery that specializes in awesomely tailored suits. And then came the lockdowns.
Good thing the two smartly opened a second venture: a label that created made-to-order casuals one can feel good working from home in. What’s great is that Mark and Carin have brought Masanting’s expertise in tailoring to Studio Sampaguita, which makes their shirt jacks (reminiscent of Marcos’s abbreviated barongs, Danding Cojuangco polos and San Miguel salesman uniforms), pleated trousers, seersucker blazers, just a little more precious.
They also incorporate local fabrics in their designs for a totally unique proposition in these times when we all need a little inspiration to get dressed.
We asked the Aguases to talk some more about the happy, snappy vibe of Studio Sampaguita, and if Covid changed their view of fashion and clothing.
What was the vision for Studio Sampaguita?
To continuously create high quality clothing that uplifts the talents of the Filipino tailors.
You already have Masanting Sastreria, why is there a need to create Studio Sampaguita? Does the pandemic have anything to do with it?
Creating a tailored casual line was always part of the plan, even before the pandemic. Through the years, our wonderful clients had always encouraged us to make pieces that complimented the other parts of their wardrobe. We saw this as an exciting challenge and the pandemic gave us the opportunity to fast track that plan.
When the lockdown started, we honestly didn't have an idea on how to cope. How do we offer such a quality product without that personal experience? Even more so, how do we continue to support the team and their families? So we eventually did what was natural for us, we turned into quality clothing as a way to adapt to the changing environment.
Masanting is suits but there’s a fun vibe to how you present it. And that vibe seems to be present as well in Studio Sampaguita, more obvious pa nga actually. Is this a quality shared by the people behind it?
We chose the sampaguita because of how it best symbolizes our principles for fashion. First, it is our national flower and we're proudly Filipino. Second, a sampaguita flower is simple from afar but complex up close, and we believe it's the tiny details that create a more refined look. Lastly, a sampaguita is always fresh and we want to create pieces that are effortlessly refreshing. Naturally, Filipinos are very fun and light. When we approach our clothing, we want to inject the “Filipino=warmth.”
Can you tell us about the team behind this label?
The origin of the group is us, husband and wife, Mark and Carin, we’ve been doing it for 15 years. We started out of a humble apartment in New York City where we focused on creating a unique experience for a market that wanted quality but were intimidated by it.
Over the years we’ve grown into a family, from our tailors all the way to our curators, we believe in the pursuit of quality craftsmanship resulting in a better life.
I would share that that one characteristic that draws all of us together is the pursuit of quality. The quality of our products, the quality of our service and most importantly the quality of life, of everyone in the team.
Where are you guys operating from?
Prior to the pandemic, we used to do a lot of trunk shows and private home appointments. But now, we hold a lot of digital appointments and physical appointments in CAN Studios located in 123 Pioneer.
Tell us more about Studio Sampaguita: what are it’s influences and inspiration?
It’s inspired by classic American wear interpreted with Filipino flair. That’s why we blend local fabrics in every Studio Sampaguita piece you take home.
What fabrics and colors are you drawn to?
We are currently inspired by bright and vibrant colors.
Is it expensive?
Quality is never expensive. (A customer tells us a pair of shorts can set you back P8,000)
What are your favorite pieces of clothing?
For Carin, my Pilyo trousers in sorbet pink seer sucker. I like it because it’s versatile. I can wear it to go to the grocery, I can also wear it during intimate Sunday brunches with the family. They are so light and stylish.
For Mark, my Gabi PJ’s in ocean navy. It’s the perfect WFH day to night attire. I also REALLY love my tropical tote! I take it with me everywhere.
How has the pandemic changed your view of clothing and fashion?
It has not changed our principles in fashion. On the contrary, the pandemic tells us we are headed in the right direction. People today are more conscious of materials, sustainability, and supporting local. Our goal is to slow fashion down so that we can appreciate it’s true potential. For us, it’s more than just buying a shirt. It's the experience and the satisfaction of supporting a more sustainable ecosystem.
Do you think people are still interested to dress up?
Dressing up will never go out of style. It’s the most visible way for you to communicate respect.