For three seasons now, online shopping site Tilda has introduced Filipinas to a roster of under-the-radar fashion brands that friends Christine Dychiao and Patricia Ramos, together with fellow friends and co-founders Katrina Lim and Emily Yap, have discovered during their travels. From Minorcan sandal label Riudavets, cult New York fashion line Rachel Comey, to the easy separates of Dutch brand Humanoid, the understated and high-quality pieces available on ShopTilda.com reflect the personal styles and tastes of its founders, as much as they cater to the Tilda client who “enjoys dressing up, knows she needs to look put-together and fabulous, but also knows there are more essential things in life.”
How does your job influence the way you travel?
PATRICIA: "I used to pack a completely diferent outfit for each day of travel, in an assortment of palettes. I have since learned to stick to one color theme and to pack only one or two pairs of shoes."
CHRISTINE: "Travel-wise, I’ve no qualms traveling with pared down luggage and I’ve learned how to make the most of limited personal errands time. Experience-wise, my job requires me to keep an eye out for the next big thing, be it a brand, an attitude, a feel or a silhouette, and I just love to soak everything in. I note everything I see mentally in a little filing cabinet in my head."
What excites you about traveling to shop?
P: "When I travel for Tilda, I relish the discovery of new brands. I am excited at the prospect of meeting the designer, working with the brand’s team and picking out pieces for the Tilda woman. And I am especially proud to introduce myself as a Filipino and to say that yes, the Philippines has a discerning consumer segment."
C: "Seeing what’s coming next season, predicting what our customers will love, and bringing our finds home to share. It’s always a thrill."
Has fashion always been your passion or obsession?
C: "I love the business of fashion. Viewing, touching and feeling the pieces six months in advance before they hit the streets, forecasting inventory, planning for a trunk show and deciding on the season’s look online, sharing in the joy and excitement of our customers when we have new stuff in. Even the nerve-wracking part where we take a gamble on a piece to see if it will sell, or wondering if we’ll hit our target sell-throughs. It’s a lot of work, but brainstorming with my three partners, it is also a lot of fun."
Where is the most unusual place you’ve been to shop?
P: "An old church in Bohol. I was there for my friends’ wedding. A local community group was selling bags. I remember buying a straw clutch for P90."
C: "Unusual for most, maybe, is shopping the samples. I’d go into my friend’s office, look at her samples, and mark the pieces I like. At the end of the season, I get to buy it at wholesale price. I got a black Hoss Intropia leather jacket for $150. It’s almost 10 years old and it just gets better as it ages. The buttery leather has practically molded into my shoulders."
What is your most memorable acquisition so far?
P: "All of the Tilda brands have a great story behind them. My favorite is Swildens, which was created by Juliette Swildens, daughter of the founders of Bonpoint. She wanted to create something more personal and went on to found her eponymous label, which encapsulates her romantic, bohemian, rock vibe. Swildens is a landmark brand of Tilda and its collections have been very well received by our clients."
C: "It has got to be Rachel Comey. It’s a brand I’ve personally loved from the beginning. I was hoping, but never in my dreams, expected that they’d take a chance on us on our first season. It’s also one of our best-selling labels to date."
The most opulent purchase you’ve made to date? The most difficult?
P: "Tilda brought in Preciously, a brand of French handmade clutches set with precious and semi-precious stones. The line was created by Carole Tessier, an interior designer by profession who infuses her work with quirky and humorous themes. This luxury accessory brand has a select following in Europe and Russia. In fact, Colette recently came out with a limited edition design by Preciously x Natalia Vodianova."
C: "A vintage Hermès Kelly in gold. I’m really just keeping it for my daughter because goodness knows how difficult and expensive it will be to get one by the time she’s my age."
The most underrated shopping destination? The most overrated?
P: "I always enjoy shopping in Le Bon Marché. I find its brand selection the perfect mix of old and new. Its customer service has always been exceptional. Dover Street Market is always a treat. I can spend an entire day in that building going through each floor."
C: "Underrated: Seattle, Washington, home of Totokaelo. Overrated: Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets. I’ve learned that I am better off paying full price for that one thing that truly sparks joy than going for several bargain buys that I won’t end up using but getting just because they’re a good deal."
Where is the best place to go shopping now, price and tax-wise?
C: "Online, then have it shipped to Singapore or New Jersey."
Luxe buys or bargain hunts?
P: "Thoughtful consumption. Experience has taught me to avoid frivolous purchases. I prefer to reap value for money by buying pieces that fit well and are made of quality fabrics."
C: "Thankfully, the term bargain is relative. If I were to spend P20,000 on a pair of comfortable shoes that will last me 10 years, I would consider that a bargain. But of course, if I could get an item I’ve always wanted at a deep discount, that would be the best, hands down."
*This article originally appeared in Preview Magazine March 2016 issue.