The Filipino habit of doing everything in the mall as a family—shop, eat, watch movies, even hear Mass—has drawn the quintessential American casual wear brand Old Navy to the Philippines.
Old Navy opened its first store in the country at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, last weekend, and the second one tomorrow at Glorietta, Makati City. This is the 20-year-old brand’s first international franchise operation, a partnership with Casual Clothing Retailers Inc., a division of Stores Specialists Inc.
“We did our research, and we found that everybody shops here like a family,” says Robert Frank, executive vice president of Old Navy International. “Old Navy is about the whole family. It’s about the fashion-conscious mom who likes everybody in her family to look good.”
Blair Dunn, general manager for Old Navy Franchise, adds: “We divided the store in a way that there’s a wide selection of products for every family member.”
The BGC branch took over the massive three-level store that used to house Muji and Gap (across Fully Booked). On the ground floor is the women’s section; the second floor, kids and babies; and the third, men’s.
There’s also performance wear for both men and women, maternity, bags and accessories, a few items for dogs, and walls full of colorful flip-flops.
The second level is designed so that kids can play as the mom shops. There’s a rocket ship and a full-size Chevy truck, and kids are allowed to climb them, says Frank. Coloring tables will also be set up for kids’ activities.
New styles will be rolled out every month, says Dunn. The Philippine stores will carry the entire global product line, with sizes from XS to XL (for tops and dresses) and sizes 0-18 for women’s pants and up to size 38 for men’s jeans.
“Old Navy always made sense to us, even when we started our relationship with Gap Inc.,” says Anton T. Huang, executive vice president of SSI, which also distributes Gap and Banana Republic—Old Navy’s sister brands.
“This is only the third country outside the United States where Old Navy is available, and China just opened three weeks ago, and Japan late last year,” adds Huang. “It’s a huge honor. It speaks highly of how international business sees the Philippines today. People now see the country as on par with the rest of the world.”
Not fast fashion
A third store will open at SM Megamall later this year, plus two more outposts before the year ends, Huang says.
Even with price points to rival those of other well-known global high-street brands, its executives refuse to call Old Navy fast fashion.
“We don’t think Old Navy is a fast-fashion brand. What we have is the American fashion point of view. There’s a lot of color and optimism. Everything in the store kind of ties together. Say, the Pixie pants,” he says, pointing to a wall bearing ankle-length cotton pants of varied prints and patterns. “Everything around it kind of goes together. Look at the Active line; the color palette can be mixed and matched, so it’s very easy to shop.”
Huang adds, “From an aesthetic standpoint, Old Navy is very, very different from everything that’s out there, those on offer and those that are coming in. This is the quintessential American casual wear brand. No one else can lay claim to that.”
Huang says the value proposition is also very strong. On opening weekend, denim jeans priced regularly at P1,650 sold for 50-percent off. There are also long-term offers like P395 for two pairs of flip-flops.
The execs maintain that even as Old Navy is affordable, the clothes aren’t disposable after a couple of washes.
“Quality is a key element,” says Dunn. “Value isn’t just about price. We don’t want you to buy something that you wear three times and dispose. We want to make consumers happy so that they feel that they’re getting their money’s worth.”