Friday, October 24, 2014

Lee Cooper opens first store in the Philippine Fashion

While everyone seems to have been beguiled by the prospects of shopping at an H&M Store in Manila, something they only probably had seen when they traveled to Hong Kong or for those who can afford to go farther may have peeked into their stores in Europe or the US, another European brand is making inroads in the country.
Lee Cooper London, a British Denim and Apparel brand founded by Morris Cooper in 1908 in Stratford, East London is actually the first jeans company in Europe. From ‘work wear’ and ‘military wear’ to ‘must wear’, the brand continues to develop an international following, continually innovating fashion product designs and pioneering in music, from its UK headquarters.

And now from London to the Philippine Fashion, Lee Cooper is finally taking up its first store at the MarketlMarket! in Taguig City.

Officially opened on Sept. 23, the occasion started with a store blessing and was attended by Lee Cooper Philippines executives and previous international brand ambassadors, fashion bloggers and the press.

Guests and mall clients had the opportunity to travel to London through the UK-inspired booth that was designed with iconic structures of the bricked wall, a miniature London Tower, a red telephone booth proto-type, and the most prominent British symbol Big Ben.

The Fine British Denim Jeans brand displays a one-of-a-kind British inspired tops and bottoms collection. You can also find the awesome collections of accessories from bags, eyewear, belts and caps at very reasonable prices.

Coincidentally, their new settlement touches down with the launch of their British Indigo collection. Indigo fabrics form the backbone of the collection from the rugged and raw dark-denim to the softer and blurred indigo piece. Centering on the all-overs tweak seasonal carpenter pants and vests, the denim-finishes from clean and sharp to shaded worn-in, giving the collection a uniquely sophisticated rugged look.

The store, located at the Ground Floor, New Wing, is a standout with its iconic British design of the red telephone boxes, Mini Cooper toys, electric musical instruments and an ambient music from different British music icons bringing in denim lovers in trance as they storm through the streets of East London. The Lee Cooper store is open seven days a week. For more information, visit Like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram:@leecooperph, and Twitter: @LeeCooperPH

Jojie Lloren shows all colors at the Red Charity Gala

The Shangri-La Makati last Saturday evening was graced by Manila’s elite, exquisitely dressed and in fine spirits as they set out to celebrate an evening “where fashion and benevolence come together.” 
Gala co-chair Tessa Prieto-Valdes fluttered soundlessly across the room, her salmon-colored cut-out platforms soft against the carpet (though her presence was loud and unmistakeable as ever), as she welcomed all her guests—loyal patrons, friends and supporters of a worthy cause.

“I want you all to get smashed… so that you’ll become more generous,” she quipped.

Now on its sixth year, the Red Charity Gala has become a staple in social events.

Headed by Prieto-Valdes and Kaye Tinga—ladies who, as mentioned by the gala’s first featured designer Dennis Lustico in Lifestyle Asia’s September issue, have “a heart of gold and platinum connections”—the gala is a grand fundraiser for the Philippine Red Cross and the Assumption HS Batch ’81 Foundation.  
With numerous sponsors and patrons and Manila’s wealthiest on the guest list, it is an extravagant operation, and one that does not go without preparation.

Champagne and “Cointreau-politans” kept the room buzzing with lively chatter before the main event. Leading to the ballroom was a wall of fresh pink roses with tags that read “Every rose is a thousand pesos more from Downy to Red Cross.” A photo booth and separate photo mural ensured that guests had their share of captured memories.

“Sabi ko Red Cross… so I’ll wear red!” exclaimed one guest as she explained her outfit of choice for the evening. Amidst the numerous red dresses and glittering ensembles, the sleeved “suit” gown made a notable appearance. Donned by several including Lucy Torres-Gomez, this simple style turned many heads with its feminine take on a very masculine fashion.  

Full black drapes and a dramatically lit Rizal Ballroom served as background to the evening’s dinner, auction, and much-awaited Philippine Fashion show from this year’s featured designer, Jesus “Jojie” Lloren.
This year marks the first release of the gala’s official magazine, cREDo, as well as the first year they will be featuring a Philippines-based designer once again.

In past galas, the choice for featured designer has consistently been one who became famous abroad, from Furne One, Michael Cinco, Cary Santiago to Ezra Santos (save for the gala’s first featured designer, Dennis Lustico).

As Jojie Lloren joins these names, he also marks a shift in gala history as he, unlike previous gala designers, is currently based here in the Philippines.

A staple in the Filipino fashion scene, the B.S. Clothing Technology Graduate from the University of the Philippines Diliman has headed two major fashion organizations, the Young Designers Guild and the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines; has served as mentor on Project Runway Philippines; and regularly designs for Rustan’s ready-to-wear collection, Jill and Luna.

In 1998 he won the Philippine Young Designers Competition and subsequently earned a scholarship at renowned school of haute couture Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de La Couture Parisienne.

He is known for his impeccable tailoring and pieces that appear simple but are “technically intricate.”

In an interview with Inquirer’s Alex Y. Vergara, Lloren noted that his style is very different from the glitz and glitter of past gala designers.

“People who come to me aren’t expecting me to make fully beaded numbers… They know my aesthetics—simple and hopefully clean, well-constructed clothes,” said Lloren.

But given the nature of the event, the designer was well aware of the need to show something spectacular and wow the audience.

For his collection, Lloren decided to focus on interpreting the masters. From Juan Luna to Pacita Abad, the style of each piece was just as distinct as those of the artists and works that inspired them. 

In her expert opinion of Lloren’s work, Ma. Victoria T. Herrera noted, “Lloren’s proposition for each dress in relation to an artwork varies… layers of translucent fabric achieve the effect of Fernando Amorsolo’s shimmering light… and Sanso’s mysterious landscapes… Silhouettes of the dress simulate the sinuous lines of Botong Francisco or the ragged scavenger that is BenCab’s Sabel.”

As with all of Lloren’s work, the tailoring was exquisite and the experimental lines and cuts a delight to examine. One walk down the runway was not enough to view each piece.

Hiding beneath a button-down peplum shirt was a shimmering gold number. What seemed to be plain black cocktail dress showed a cascade of surprises as the model turned to reveal a sleek tapering cut down the back and a festive bouquet of ruffles.  

The 40-piece collection was certainly a treat to behold, with its eclectic use of fabric, colors and silhouettes. No two pieces were the same.

As Kaye Tinga put it, Lloren is “a prime example of Filipino creativity,” as worthy of interpreting the masters as they of being translated.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweden’s H&M now in Philippine Fashion

In the prosperous northern European country of Sweden, equality and democracy are not amorphous principles.
These principles find concrete manifestation in the way its government and organizations are run, in that corporations dispense with too much hierarchy and the lines between supervisors and subordinates are blurred when discussing ideas.

In Sweden, ideas are shot down or championed on their merit, and it does not matter too much where they came from, whether from management or the rank and file.

This way, potentially trailblazing and groundbreaking concepts are brought to the fore, not nipped in the bud.

According to Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of publicly listed H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, which owns and operates H&M retail stores, these democratic principles find expression in the entire line of apparel, shoes and accessories that H&M offers the global market.

Indeed, H&M’s business concept is “fashion and quality at the best price,” which means that the wide range of products in its store do not cater only to high net worth individuals, but rather to a bigger demographic that wants the latest in fashion but at a price point that is not too painful on the wallet.
It is democracy and equality at play in the fickle world of fashion.

“We want to be accessible to a wide market and open to all,” said the 39-year-old Persson, who was in the country last week for the opening of the first H&M store at the Mega Fashion Hall in SM Megamall.

That H&M, the world’s second largest clothing retailer, can afford to keep its prices within reach of a wide section of the market can be attributed to the Swedish style of running an organization, Persson said.

Teamwork is favored, rather than strict adherence to the table of organization.

“The Swedishness in our offering is more in the internal, about teamwork, and not about hierarchy. At H&M, the best idea should win, it is not the person with a certain title who gets to decide. It is collaboration at all levels and also about having fun,” said Persson, grandson of Erling Persson, who opened the first shop called Hennes (Swedish for “for her” or “hers) in 1947 and then bought hunting apparel retailer Mauritz Widforss in 1968, adding the men’s line and leading to the name change to Hennes & Mauritz (H&M).

Also an integral part of the Swedish character that is reflected by the company is its dedication to being a responsible retail firm, with sustainability being a serious concern across the organization.
“We want to be a responsible company, that’s why we have this whole focus on the environment and the social environment. These are not yet very hot concepts in the Philippines, but around the world, I believe people want to buy from a company that takes wider responsibility,” said Persson.

Persson, for example, was in Bangladesh before coming to the Philippines for a discussion with stakeholders in that country’s thriving garments sector.

Bangladesh was recently in the spotlight because of safety concerns of its garments factories, which supply the needs of some of the world’s biggest retail names.

H&M was the first brand to sign the Accord for Building and Fire Safety in Bangladesh.
This move is part of H&M’s campaign—called Conscious—to make “fashion sustainable, and sustainability fashionable.”

Programs include global garment collecting scheme, through which customers can return their used garments to an H&M store in exchange for a voucher.

H&M meanwhile, takes responsibility for the proper recycling of the used products. At the same time, H&M is reducing, reusing and recycling other materials such as hangers, packaging and shopping bags.

This bias toward responsibility and sustainability, Persson said, gives one more reason for customers to patronize H&M, although the biggest driver remains its fashionable products and affordable prices.
Persson said H&M was very much aware of competition in the market that continues to tighten, making business conditions challenging for all players, including H&M.

H&M is the latest entrant to the growing Philippine Fashion market, which is already home to other global brands.

Persson is confident, however, that through its offering of a fresh line of best quality clothes at the best prices, a space will open up, and thus meet H&M’s expectations that the Philippines will be a strong market that will add significantly to its bottom line.

“We want to come in with a greater offering than what exists. We have huge respect for competition, but we believe we have a strong place in the market,” said Persson, who headed the business development and expansion group of H&M before taking over the reins of the company as CEO in 2009.

H&M has long been looking at the Philippines as a potential market, he said, given its huge and young population.

It was just waiting for the right time to enter, given its philosophy of growing in a controlled way, with quality, sustainability and high profitability.

“The Philippines is a super interesting market with its 100 million people and growing economy. Fashion interest here is also high. We have been looking at this country for quite some time, but we need to enter with quality given that we go to several countries at once. It is just that it takes more effort to go to a new country than it is to expand in others,” said Persson.

With the opening of new retail spaces and the rapid growth of the Philippine economy that has put more money into the pockets of consumers, H&M feels that it has finally arrived in the right place at the right time.

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