Fashion 

Cara Sumabat of Manila-Based Sustainable Brand HaloHalo Is Paving the Way For Filipino Designers

Meet the co-founder of the cult-loved accessories brand.

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Since launching HaloHalo in Manila, Philippines in 2013, sibling duo Cara and Rocco Sumabat have been changing the Filipino fashion scene with their sustainable handbags, small leather goods and homeware accessories. As an ode to all things local, HaloHalo’s items are made out of a recycled material called banig — a handwoven mat commonly found in homes for sleeping and sitting.

“I initially dabbled with leather and then used the banig. Slowly, I began incorporating the two, along with other materials as well,” Cara told HYPEBAE. In the Philippines, halo halo is a well known local dessert prepared with ingredients such as fruits, sweet preserves, evaporated milk and shaved ice, that somehow taste amazing when mixed together. In a similar sense, the name HaloHalo was born out of Cara’s personal curiosity in merging different fabrics.

Making bags has always felt like a natural thing to do for Cara. In honor of her culture, one of the label’s best-selling items is the “Bayong” bag, named after a functional and versatile silhouette that can be used as a market bag, planter, laundry hamper or storage bin. “I tend to gravitate to local shapes that remind me of the beauty of the provinces.”

Other than her cult-favorite handbags, Cara felt the need to diversify her brand’s catalog by tapping into homeware — ranging from ottomans to floor mats — when she moved into her new home with her husband. “I like to think in shapes. Creating home pieces came organically when I got married. I couldn’t find pieces that I liked for my own home so I decided to create them. A lot of things that we produce comes from a need that I try to address in my own life or from the people around me.” HaloHalo has also branched out into clothing and recently launched a selection of chic wrap tops perfect for both city and island life.

Cara and Rocco didn’t expect their company to become the success it is today. With the fashion industry constantly evolving, the Sumabat siblings are looking to create thoughtful new collections and quality products to sustain their cult-status. For those wondering what’s next in store for the Manila-based brand, Cara hopes to grow the company outside of the Philippines and further develop the label’s clientele. “If the fire is so strong inside that you can’t ignore it, then pursue what it is you want,” she advises young designers.

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