In the last 12 months, Philippine luxury retail has had quite a bit of coverage in WWD. There have been stories on Greenbelt and Ayala Land, Rafe, Melissa Dizon and Eairth, and players who have shaped the market like SSI and Anton Huang, Jappy Gonzalez, Ricco and Tina Ocampo, Juan Miguel Ongsiako, and Louis Vuitton. There was also a story on Adora I wish I'd written but my editor beat me to it!
Anton Tantoco Huang, a third-generation family member, is executive vice president of Rustan Commercial Corp. and SSI. Explaining the impetus behind the establishment of SSI some 20 years ago, he said: “With the advent of the malls, the desire and need to go beyond the department store concept to target the luxury customer was too compelling.”
SSI has partnered with 56 brands, and its portfolio of prestige luxury labels includes Tiffany, Cartier, Gucci, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Ferragamo and Tod’s. Many of their freestanding boutiques can be found in the posh Greenbelt complex in Manila’s central business district of Makati.
It has been an uphill climb for SSI. “Admittedly, it used be a challenge to sell the Philippines as a potential market opportunity for these international fashion brands,” Huang said. “But over the recent decade, with the increasing sophistication of that slim but strong upper market segment and growing aspirational middle class, more and more brands have shifted their focus toward us and have wanted to expand in this region. Now I can say it’s not uncommon for us to actually be approached by brands aware of the potential here in our country.”
While Huang concentrates on developing SSI beyond the department store concept, another young Tantoco descendant, Eman Pineda, seeks to refine it.
Forging a path separate from his family, Pineda this year opened Adora, a 25,000-square-foot store in Manila’s Greenbelt 5. It is a retail showcase featuring limestone floors, modernist furniture and velvet draperies. Adora already has set a benchmark in the market in terms of luxury and personalized service.