Dress for Less, Divisoria Style (or Putting on the Ritz, Divisoria Style!)
Anson Yu uncovers a little-known enclave in Divisoria that specializes in glamourous wedding outfits at wallet-friendly prices.
For as long as anyone can remember, people have been flocking to Divisoria in Manila to seek out or affordable clothing options. Here they can find anything from underwear, t-shirts, jeans, and even, yes, wedding outfits and formal wear.
It is here that a would-be-bride can dress herself, the groom, and ten members of the wedding entourage for as low as P13,000. To achieve this, however, she would need to weave in and out of the narrow and humid corridors and lanes of Tabora and Ylaya Streets. To change all this, the Tutuban Shopping Mall has converted portions of Cluster Building 1 and 2 into "Oh My Gown," a one-stop shop for wedding suppliers. Not only will future brides be able to afford their dream wedding gowns, they can do so with ease and comfort.
Prices here are very competitive to those in Tabora and Ylaya Streets. A ready-to-wear wedding gown can be had for P5,000. You can also find formal evening wear and cocktail dresses for around P2,000 to P4,000. Men can get suits tailored for P6,500 and that includes the shirt and tie already. If you have to attend a function requiring formal Filipiniana wear, a decent Barong Tagalog bought or made here can start at P800. For ladies, you can get the terno gown popularized by former First Lady Imelda Marcos complete with butterfly sleeves for P2,500.
While many of the shops here offer similar design to those found in Tabora and Ylaya Streets, there are a few that manage to stand out with really good designs and craftsmanship. One such shop is Here Comes the Gown. The made-to-order gowns here are beautiful, with clean yet elegant lines. Designed by Nina Celso, a bridal gown here can start at P15,000 while a bridesmaid dress starts at P4,000 with a free matching bag.
According to the shop manager Arlene Aure, what makes their gowns distinctive is the quality of the textiles and their workmanship.
While their tailored men's suit maybe more expensive at P8,000, they use imported wool rather than the synthetic "Armani" textile used in most men's suits. According to Aure, wool is a much better material for suits as it is of better quality and has a softer texture. If the client is not satisfied with their outfits, this shop has a money back guarantee.
Two other shops worth taking a look are G-Zyne Boutique and Barbie's Fashion Boutique. At G-Zyne, designer Ellen Clavio Viray comes up with made-to-order gowns that are figure hugging and stylishly embellished with crystal beads imported from Japan. This would appeal to the bride wanting something sexy yet confident on her special day. A made-to-order gown at G-zyne starts at P15,000.
Over at Barbie's, the signature look is a Grecian-inspired collection distinguished by crashing (a pleating technique) and beadwork. A ready-to-wear gowns here starts at P2,500, while a made-to-order gown starts at P3,000.
It is even possible to have an haute couture gown made here. Benjamin Verdeblanco, a member of the Fashion Designers Association of the Philippines, has been running a shop here since 2009. This was after years of running his design house along Espana Street, then later, Kamias Street. To some, it may seem like downsizing, but he prefers it that way. At least he is still able to work despite suffering a mild stroke three years ago, and he still cuts the fabric of each garment personally. In fact one of his haute couture creations for a wedding in Australia was recently featured in a wedding magazine.
Aside from bridal gown shops, you can also find printers, event planners, photographers, and wedding souvenir makers at "Oh My Gown." Hopefully, in the future it will attract more suppliers and service providers for weddings. This way it will become the one stop shop in Divisoria for future brides.
Events such as wedding mark a change in one's life, no matter where one is located. Such celebrations count as personal histories, which is why, Basta Pinas, Makulay ang Kasaysayan!
To get to Tutuban Shopping Mall, take the MRT 2 to Recto Station from there you can take the jeep to Divisoria. Tutuban Shopping Mall is along CM Recto. For more about all things wedding-related, check out BridalBook.ph, an online directory and catalog of wedding suppliers.