THIRTY AND THRIV­ING

With 30 years of in­no­vat­ing Filipino fash­ion, life­style and cul­ture un­der its belt, Bench is still only get­ting started. We take a trip down mem­ory lane and cel­e­brate the un­for­get­table high­lights that con­trib­uted to its legacy.

Preview (Philippines) - - Preview November - edited by jae de veyra pick­rell

Re­trace the jour­ney of one of lo­cal re­tail’s big­gest suc­cess sto­ries.

you’ve passed the gi­gan­tic bill­boards along Guadalupe that once made bold state­ments about all kinds of love. You’ve wit­nessed the jaw-drop­ping un­der­wear shows and mar­veled over the looks at fash­ion week. You’ve seen ev­ery­one, from an F4 mem­ber to a Jonas Brother, don­ning the sig­na­ture shirts and clas­sic jeans. But be­fore all that, there was a cor­ner stall in SM Makati. Opened in 1987, it sold men’s shirts em­bla­zoned with one word in green semi-serif: Bench.

The first Bench bou­tique in Park Square, which came two years later, be­came the pre­cur­sor to hun­dreds of shops—in­clud­ing Fix Sa­lons as well as Bench Body and Her­bench stores—na­tion­wide, and many more in the United States, the Mid­dle East and China. An ad fea­tur­ing a fresh-faced Richard Gomez on a boat, sculling to De­bussy’s “Clair de Lune,” be­came an iconic part of lo­cal pop-cul­ture con­scious­ness. And then there are the provoca­tive cam­paigns, the first of which fea­tured Jo­mari Yl­lana, which taste­fully ex­uded sex ap­peal and style. All are de­fin­i­tive tes­ta­ments to the brand’s pioneer­ing legacy in Philip­pine fash­ion, re­tail, life­style and pop cul­ture.

The last three decades have seen Bench ex­pand its hori­zons and widen its reach. The brand has pub­lished a num­ber of spe­cialty books, be­gin­ning with the aptly ti­tled Pi­noy Pop Cul­ture in 2001, and has since be­gun re­leas­ing an in-house mag­a­zine called Bench­mark. A cam­paign fronted by Tai­wanese su­per­star Jerry Yan paved the way for other well-known faces to grace Bench ads, such as Adam Levine, Lee Min Ho and Bruno Mars. For our own celebri­ties, land­ing a Bench bill­board or mag­a­zine spread be­came a sign that they’ve made it. Col­lab­o­ra­tions with the likes of Ben­cab and Geral­dine Javier have even so­lid­i­fied its pres­ence in the arts.

It’s your first brush with makeup as a teen, the splash of Baby Bench Colo­nia that in­stantly takes you back to your child­hood, the col­lec­tion of go-to Over­hauled jeans that have been in your closet for­ever (and still look amaz­ing on you!). No other brand has what it takes to ap­peal to ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of age, gen­der and class. Who­ever you are, wher­ever you’re from, there’s no ques­tion about it: Bench is a ma­jor part of all of our lives, and we’ve all got the state­ment tees to prove it.

Now, the brand shows no signs of stop­ping and con­tin­ues to break ground, pro­duc­ing wardrobe must-haves, cel­e­brat­ing the Filipino iden­tity and mak­ing us all cu­ri­ous and hun­gry for what’s next. To cel­e­brate the im­pact and in­flu­ence it has had in time for its 30th an­niver­sary, we take a look back on the great mo­ments that made the shop around the cor­ner into the fash­ion gi­ant that it is now.

They wouldn’t be say­ing it if it weren’t true: Bench is for­ever.

WORDS BY FIEL ESTRELLA

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