BY MANICA C. TIGLAO
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSEPH PASCUAL
Launched in early 2018 by friends and business partners Maica Salud and Cara Sumabat, rsvp.ph is Philippines’ first luxury eveningwear rental service, providing women a more sustainable and practical approach to dressing for events.
“About two years ago, all of our friends started getting married, and it felt like we were attending weddings every month,” shares Salud, whose friendship with Sumabat spans a decade. “We felt it was getting so expensive, with so much time and money being spent on having a dress made and then wearing it only once. We thought there had to be a better way.”
Maica Salud (left) and Cara Sumabat of RSVP
Both former merchandisers for luxury fashion brands, Sumabat and Salud share a solid sense of style and a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t. What they bring to the table, coupled with their refined taste that helps in crafting that perfect style moment, is a smooth, efficient service, honed and streamlined over the past year to provide each client with a selection of dressing options handpicked with their personal style and event requirements in mind. Dresses are typically released one week before the event, and are due for return after two days.
To begin, clients log onto the RSVP website, create a quick profile, and answer a few questions so that all of the details—dress size, height, the event’s theme and specifications—are filed prior to their fitting appointment. “For example, if you tell us that the event is a wedding with a pastel color scheme, we’ll set aside dresses that are only in pastels, and only in your size,” Sumabat explains. “We curate it so that you don’t have to go through every single dress on the inventory. Every client will see only dresses that fit them. More often than not—I would say two out of three girls—the first dress they try on is already the one and they don’t bother trying on the rest.”
Effectively designed for clients to feel more like they’re coming to a casual brunch at a trendy space rather than a fitting appointment, the RSVP studio’s Instagram-friendly interiors are cozy and intimate, underlining RSVP’s client-focused methods. “We know it’s kind of nerve-wracking for a woman to come and have strangers look at her body because it’s such a personal thing,” Salud says. “The concept of designer clothing can seem intimidating, so we wanted to make it feel like a cool and fun thing to do,” Sumabat adds.
Inside the RSVP studio
Recently, RSVP introduced a second service where one can rent pre-loved dresses with the company, adding to an ample collection of over 300 pieces that are a mix of consigned dresses, RSVP’s in-house collection, and one-offs from designer collaborations with Vania Romoff, Martin Bautista, Sasa Jimenez, and Stacy Rodriguez. Says Salud, “After fashion designers mount their shows, the dresses are usually just archived in their ateliers, and it’s a shame, because there are a lot of women who would love to wear them.”
“A lot of the way we move is instinctive,” offers Sumabat, who also happens to be the creator and principal designer of local brand Halo Halo. It makes sense that the next step for RSVP is to eventually offer accessories to go with the dresses, too. “We want to shift our focus on designing shoes, bags, and jewelry so that RSVP can be a one-stop shop where we can offer a full styling experience,” Salud says. “The customer journey is top of mind for us—it’s really about making women feel good about themselves.”
To book an appointment, log on to rsvp.ph.