Starting out as a ready-to-wear business built on bold ideas, Penshoppe has become one of the country’s biggest retail brands, with a roster of “All Stars” that makes them poised to take on the international market. Bernie Liu and Golden ABC are a prime example of how a group who barely had any background on the industry staked a claim on fashion with designs that capitalized on youthful fun.
It is not surprising how the country’s leading fashion powerhouse, Golden ABC, would trace its roots to a province in the Philippines known for its resilient and fiercely independent people. Cebu may bear traces of the beginnings of Spanish colonization from hundreds of years ago, but prior to that, it had always been a center of trade for what is now called the southern Philippines, whose people had long been doing business with China, Malaysia, Japan, India, Burma, and other parts of Asia. In a land that nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit, visionaries and business leaders are always on the rise.
Chasing his own fierce dream of building a company that would house the most admired fashion brands in Asia, Bernie Liu and his group of friends—all young architecture graduates when they drew up a blueprint for the business, so to speak—anchored their vision on the growth and development in Cebu that was reflective of what was happening in the rest of the country. It was, after all, the time of groundbreaking changes. The year 1986 had ushered in a “peaceful, bloodless revolution” for the Philippines—an upheaval fuelled by years of prior political unrest but unprecedented, just the same, in the unplanned yet historic triumph of People Power. It was a time when anything seemed possible. It provided the perfect opportunity for young idealists armed with a lot of guts and a fair amount of know-how—Liu’s family owned a modest-sized garment factory—to start their own revolution.
Legend has it that Liu had ventured into an informal business of designing and producing t-shirts for school and corporate giveaways even before he graduated from college and passed the board. After briefly working for the family’s lumber business, he had an epiphany regarding the potential of branded retail, and this would mark his return to the garments business. Lured by the growing demand in Cebu for colorful shirts, Liu and company zeroed in on what would be their biggest group of buyers—the young college students and new grads like themselves. They decided to name their brand after the students’ constant companion and writing implement, the pen.
Although none of its founders had any professional training on how to design and sell shirts, they ventured into a market already cornered by several other successful brands. What they had going for themselves, though, was that they were armed with bolder ideas. It was said that they were the first to pay special attention to individual shirt packaging before any other local brand did, and shunned ordinary retail racks in favor of customized (pencil-shaped) ones. Indeed, what they lacked then in sales know-how was compensated by their sharp knowledge of design, translated successfully into catchy graphic images on brightly colored t-shirts. They also had a surprising grasp of marketing, committing to the principle of building a brand through focusing on image—that of youthfulness and being fun and hip.
If they had indeed been told that they would never make it in Manila, the young Cebuano entrepreneurs failed to heed the warning, and this would prove to be one of their major feats. Penshoppe became the flagship brand of Golden ABC, a line of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories launched in March 1986, just one month after the EDSA People Power revolution. Five years later, the brand would officially go national, opening its first boutique in what was then the biggest mall in the city capital, SM North EDSA.
By 1995, Penshoppe was given the Award of Excellence at the 14th Philippine Advertising Congress, a recognition that underscored the brand’s consistent and solid focus on its market. Penshoppe’s evolution into an overall lifestyle brand also saw the growth of the mother company that by then had begun to cater to different market segments by establishing the chic and trendy high-street brand Oxygen in 1996; the affordable brand for young executives, Memo, in 2002; and the brand celebrating each woman’s uniqueness, ForMe, in 2004.
Penshoppe was also awarded the Most Outstanding Retailer by the Philippine Retailers Association and the Department of Trade and Industry in 2000 and 2001, and by the following year had been entered in the Retail Hall of Fame. It furthered its imaging and branding with winning media campaigns like the award-winning “Battle Cry” television commercial, which received a bronze award in the 2005 New York Festivals. In 2006, the same campaign received another bronze from the Advertising Foundation of the Philippines and the Adboard, and silvers in the Araw Values Awards in the print and television ads categories.
Golden ABC continued its growth with the opening of its subsidiary Red Logo, a direct selling company, in 2008. The following year, it acquired Regatta, a leisure-lifestyle brand. Then, in 2011, it launched its first premium brand Tyler, offering day-to-night, business-to-leisure apparel for women.
As the story goes, Penshoppe’s owners tried to crack the Manila retail scene with their dogged refusal to take no for an answer—they were said to have “literally walked all over the capital trying to sell their shirts and product concepts,” as related on the cebu-online.com website—and their penchant for doing the unexpected. At that time, when other companies relied heavily on personalities and models to sell their products, they opted for the road less traveled and picked real people as their brand champions, and would launch its first batch of young and unknown, but cool models—the kind that most of their growing clientele would easily identify with.
These days, however, with increased globalization, Penshoppe steps up to the plate to make its own mark. It would become one of the local retail brands that would be endorsed by top Asian and Hollywood stars—from Thai superstar Mario Maurer to “Gossip Girl” mainstays Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester, “Vampire Diaries” hottie Ian Somerhalder, and heartthrob Zac Efron—on the way to its becoming a global retail name to be reckoned with. Its presence has become truly palpable and its claim solidified by improved clothing lines, bold media campaigns, and enhanced boutiques.
Armed with a formidable retail presence over 500 stores strong all over the country, Golden ABC sets its eyes to expanding beyond Asia and opening stores in the Middle East. Penshoppe’s success, bolstered by the equally impressive retail performance of its sister brands, has indeed given credence to the company’s goal of establishing itself as the most admired fashion brand builder in Asia, with its visionaries truly exemplifying the valiant spirit and high standard of excellence of the hardworking Cebuanos.
- by Annie S. Alejo
- photos courtesy of Golden ABC
37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance
Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication
By: Allain Dumon Fonte
The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry. The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.
Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery. Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science. And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line. However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy. Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme. Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then. It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma. Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma. In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.
After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest. As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.
To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.
BALANCE. Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating. She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.
RHYTHM. Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.
TEXTURE. With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them.
HARMONY. The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:
THE SPIDER WEB: one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.
MATCH and PATCH: Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns
PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.
LA ROSE BLEUE: U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress. The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.
Cebuano Haute Couture Shines at 2021 Cebu Wedding Expo
Forever at Soltana
by Allain Dumon Fonte
Soltana Nature Residences host the grandest wedding destination expo for 2021. In their grandiose Events at Soltana venue, wedding suppliers, event coordinators, events stylists, fashion designers, and exhibitors gathered to showcase their best to excited couples and clients. The grand expo was opened by the Chairperson of Lapu Lapu City’s Tourism Commission and first lady of this historic resort city, Madam Cynthia Cindy King Chan; she was with city counselor, Hon. Queenie Malingin Amman; Taft Properties COO and Vice President, Myra Lynn Gilig; Taft Properties CFO, Feliz Tiukenhoy; and Mr. Justin Gaisano of Taft Properties.
To set the event’s mood, AD models Kevin Lahousse and Gingie Alducente acted as newlyweds joining the expo and leading the guests to the exhibitors’ booths. Yet, the highlight of the event was the glamorous fashion show set in the world’s most visited wedding destinations, as the mannequins of AD models paraded the haute couture creations of Cebu’s A-list fashion designers.
The show was opened by Miss Earth 2008, Karla Henry-Amman, wearing a bridal gown designed by Hanz Coquilla. Her wedding mood was the historic streets and sceneries of Vigan, Philippines. Coquilla created a Filipiniana-inspired bridal dress with perfectly constructed butterfly sleeves, exquisitely clean lines, and masterfully crafted bias skirt of balanced cones and flows. Valerie Alvez showcased a bridal dress made of vintage Chantilly lace. Alvez proved her skills in manipulating laces to be impeccable; the bow detail at the back added glamour to the dress, exuding luxury to the bride wearing Alvez’s masterpiece. Wendell Quisido set her wedding theme to the dreamy beaches of Ipanema; and as her model glided on the runway, everyone in the audience dropped their jaws to the intricately detailed bridal dress that Quisido made. Quisido designed a bustier dress with well-balanced panels that wonderfully fitted the model’s figure; but what made Quisido’s dress jaw-dropping are the countless Swarovski crystals that covered the dress. Dexter Alazas joined the fashion show with a 1920’s inspired wedding dress of vintage tulle and embroidered in the decade’s popular baroque patterns. Alazas has shown the wonders of working with delicate fabrics and the opulence of vintage embroidery patterns.
The fashions show also brought us to the rich sceneries of Mallorca, Spain with Ren Manabat’s three-tiered wedding dress. The labor-intensive layers upon layers of soft English tulle made Manabat’s artwork stand out, among others. Another head turner is a dress that was carefully planned and architecturally constructed, the bridal gown designed by Protacio. Protacio has obviously studied well which fabrics to use and how each fabric is sewn to the other to create an illusion of nudeness under layers of vintage Italian mesh. The dress was architecturally constructed like the Burj Khalifa where every piece sits perfectly with each other in harmony and balance. Fashion connoisseur Marichu Tan-Geson created an extremely detailed bodice lined with Swarovski crystals, and a skirt made from layers of dotted soft English tulle. Tan-Geson’s manipulation techniques on the soft tulle and how she delicately draped every layer of the tulle upon the other is interesting and intriguing. With a work of art as beautiful as that, I could say that Tan-Geson is the Madame Gres of Cebu fashion. The show ended with a groom and a bride wearing a 19th century English-inspired wedding ensemble by master couturier, Philip Rodriguez. Rodriguez has proven once again his artistry and expertise in fashion by creating an empire-waist gown with ruffled sleeves made from dotted Italian mesh of 100% silk and vintage silk taffeta. Rodriguez presented a truly elegant wedding dress; lesser on the intricacy but more on the richness of the materials being used. The rarity of Rodriguez’s fabrics already makes his dress worthy to a MET gala exhibition.
The models wore the timeless and recherche jewelry collections from Royal Gem to match the bridal dresses of the featured designers. Every jewelry piece is made to complement a woman who loves fashion and whose self-awareness dictates her own style. From green sapphires to yellow diamonds, every jewelry piece is stunning. No wonder why socialite and fashion icon, Heart Evangelista, loves and promotes Royal Gem. All models are wearing Shandar bridal footwear.
The Grand Wedding Destination Expo at the Events at Soltana will run until the 24th of May 2021 with exciting activities: a maquillage session with Jessie Glova, a bridal make-up competition and show, a financial literacy session for new couples, a talk on real estate investments, a session with Rod Bautista and Eddie Jamin from the Centerpiece Weddings and Events about wedding destinations in Cebu and the new norms in wedding celebrations, and a whole lot more of raffle prizes from Plantation Bar Resort and Spa, Solea Mactan Resort, Savoy Hotel Mactan, and others.
CEBU’S GALLERY OF ROUGE: Mistress of Disinfo, Vixen of Vexation and the Duchess of Disorder
Ogle La La
By Alexandra Fortabat de Hermès
Cebu’s own Lady Whistledown is back after a long hiatus and talks about the naughty ones who comprise the initial #TroubleTrifecta, three ladies who you may or may not know…
It’s been eight years since someone’s picked up this particular (jewel-encrusted) quill so thought it rather apropos to begin sharpening those French-manicured talons and polishing our sardonic wits once again. After all — dear amigas — there is only so much Netflix one can watch, or peloton one can engage in, or caviar-topped foie to prepare, while we’ve all been locked down in our kubôs for well over a year!
To be sure the last twelve months have been a rollercoaster of emotions, a carousel of follies and a series of blunders that have reversed decades of growth resulting in historical levels of unemployment while a very few have been channeling Winston Churchill’s adage of “never waste a good crisis” a bit too much. While we can go on and on about the bungled and disastrous government response, we will limit our political commentaries here as we have no interest – nor inclination — to open that rather voluminous Pandora’s box.
The armoires that we will explore will belong to three types of our island’s “alta” sociedad who – in this last revolution around the sun – made us cringe and bust out many tubs of popcorn through their sheer audacity, lack of sensitivity, and overall dopiness. This – ladies (and lady wannabes) – is therefore the debut edition of the #TroubleTrifecta.
The first is that amiga who, by choice or plain predilection, just cannot keep her facts straight. Let’s call her Mistress of Disinfo coz one simply cannot trust what comes out of her well-lined lips or read from her often convoluted (and run-on) status updates. In this age of ubiquitous and nearly instantaneous information and the proliferation of fake news, the least one can do is check the veracity of what one puts out in the social media realm. As with anything else, quality is key!
The next Vixen of Vexation is that overbearing arriviste who is desperate to bowdlerize her courtesanal past by plastering her obviously enhanced and Gluta-enabled mug on every surface (and platform) known to modern man. This self-proclaimed Madame Multiverse is quick to brandish her (dubious) accomplishments, has an affinity for B (or C?) rated actors and milks her closeness to certain members of the Old Guard. In her perpetual quest for legitimacy and acceptance by the upper echelons, perhaps this Señorita aspirant should heed the advice of Malcolm Forbes when he declared: “How to Succeed: Try Hard Enough; How to Fail: Try Too Hard.”
Our last Duchess of Disorder is definitely NOT the least in this Gallery of Rouge and has actually been the source of not just consternation but of many a disruption – and not in a good way. This Soaper Woman is so-called due to her propensity to air out all her filthy lavada to anyone who will listen or bother to read her IG stories. Besides giving any Grammar Nazi a massive coronary, this Fräulein of Fracas has been known to commit acts of arson, has no qualms of engaging in online character assassinations AND seems to have a never-ending bevy of skeletons that are constantly feasting in her many closets.
Ladies, please! While we have to admit that we derive a certain guilty pleasure from your virtual explosions and implosions, they do get very prosaic – very quickly. Discretion, like intelligence and proper manners, truly never goes out of style.
So there you have it folks. These tumultuous times we live in certainly do not need any more brouhaha so please remember to be precise, don’t try too hard and always maintain a certain sense of delicadeza. Not only will your lives be simpler and more pleasurable but maybe, just maybe, you may finally crack that clique that you’ve been clawing your way to be a part of.
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