Although the French popularized the scarf, a Spanish brand aimed at mature women has made it a signature accessory.
The logic is that the scarf imparts grace and style. Dark colors tend to wash out the skin tones of older women and emphasize sagging jawlines and dark eyeshadows. A cool, ethereal scarf in unpredictable colors and patterns, however, brightens up the face.
“We want to sell a complete look, and that includes a scarf,” said José Ramón Vidaña, manager of the international commercial department of the Spanish brand Punt Roma. With visual merchandising designer Xavi Gonzalez, Vidaña was recently in Manila to open the first Punt Roma store in Asia, at Bonifacio High Street Central.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been an influx of Spanish brands in the Philippines, many of them come from the Inditex Group, the giant multinational conglomerate based in Galicia, northwestern Spain.
But Punt Roma is an independent company based in Barcelona, founded by entrepreneur Rodrigo Garcia who began by supplying wholesale apparel to department stores. In the ’70s, the company ventured into retail to fill in a gap—women of a certain age who wore European size 40 (size 10) clothes and above.
“The other brands are made for thin women. Punt Roma serves the curvy woman,” said Gonzalez.
“It’s finding a balance between the fashion world and their age. This is why we have succeeded,” said Vidaña. He pointed out that Punt Roma has introduced size 38 (size 8). “There are a
lot of older women who are fit and have been taking care of themselves. We are addressing that market. Punt Roma doesn’t want to be categorized as clothing for old and fat women. We are also targeting a younger clientele.”
The brand was named after its signature fabric punto roma (also known as punto di Roma or Ponte Roma) jersey fabric. It derived its name from the knitted thread and fabric structure that evoked the sturdiness of a Roman bridge.
Because the fabric is soft and fluid yet able to maintain its shape, it feels comfortable with a bit of stretch, and is ideal for draping.
The styles are created by a team, led by two female designers, who understand the concerns of their target market. The tailored jackets and shirts suggest a smooth line down the torso, while the tailored suits and sheath dresses give the impression of structure.
The skirt length hovers around the knee, the most flattering length for mature women. The pants and jeans go along with the wearer’s silhouette, with the kind of elasticity that doesn’t cramp the legs or sag at the derriere.
There are draped alternatives that gently skim over the curves and conceal the bulges. Crepe is a staple fabric in Punt Roma’s collection. A woman has several options in wearing the crepe jacket—with crepe slacks, jeans or leggings.
To be youthful and trendy, classic styles are infused with current touches. For instance, T-shirts in scaled down tribal prints are teamed with dark slim pants. Soft florals are embossed on lightweight ponchos. This season’s palm frond-printed tops can go with separates in pastel shades or primary colors of yellow and blue.
Although mixing prints is in fashion, Gonzalez said Punt Roma is realistic. “One in a thousand women will combine three kinds of prints. You don’t see women piling up accessories. We style the clothes that could easily be understood by our customer.”
Vidaña added: “We do not put two printed things together. In our store, we coordinate a printed item with a nonprinted one, so that the look is balanced. The key of this business is a very good product knowledge combined with a very good visual merchandising knowledge.”
Like most Spanish brands, Punt Roma follows the pronto moda (meaning fast fashion and high street fashion) template. It emulates current fashions and zips their affordable versions into upscale-looking boutiques. Each style has a limited number of pieces. This way, there is no extra inventory in the stockroom and the turnaround is quick.
With a constant supply of fresh stock, the customer is lured to keep coming back, knowing that she will buy something trendy, unique and affordable every time. And since the prices are
attractive, she can shop on impulse.
“In pronto moda, a new collection arrives at the store every 15 days. We have more than 600 styles per season. It’s putting in the right product at the right time,” said Vidaña.
The store managers and the sales force keep an eye on what’s moving and what’s not. They all listen to the feedback from customers and continually report to headquarters. The feedback is then translated into new designs or new deliveries.
“In the past 10 years, the quality of other competing brands has gone down, in order to maintain their prices. But our company has maintained our products’ quality,” said Gonzalez.
At Punt Roma in BHS Central, the most salable styles are the blousons. The basic tops start at P1,790, while the fancier styles cost P4,990. The T-shirts with figure-slimming details cost P2,990. The jeans with elastic components are reasonably priced at P2,490.
An entrepreneur was so delighted with styles for her figure that she bought nearly 40 items totaling P115,000. She even gave the sales force red envelopes with P500 inside for good luck.
Customers are not shy about revealing their age or birthdays when asked to provide personal information for Punt Roma’s database. Anthony Glen Ompoc, brand manager, explained that the information would guide them in sending the right promotions or creating their new collections.
Although Punt Roma’s biggest sizes range from 48 to 52, so far the local clientele’s sizes vary from 40 to 46. Petite customers have been asking for styles in size 38.
Ompoc observed that the local market has been attracting an age range from 35 to 65 years old.
“Women with sophisticated tastes or who want fashionable prints flock to this brand,” he said.