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.
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.