With SM as local partner, Crate & Barrel has recently unveiled its summer collection in its new 1,800-sq m branch at SM Aura Premier. The global brand opened its first branch in the Philippines at SM Megamall late last year.
“Reminiscent of items found in homes on the East Coast, the collection offers plenty of pieces in shades of pink, blue, pastels and stripes,” said Ram Bucoy, Crate & Barrel head of marketing and PR. “The look is decidedly preppy and very Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Long Island. Although it has a cottage feel, it still manages to look modern.”
There are also throws, throw pillows, area rugs and bed linens in geometric prints and bright Arizona shades such as saffron, turquoise, slate and curry.
In keeping with the sultry season, the collection also has wood accessories, including a Philippine-made “Tondo” collection of bowls and mixing spoons.
Crate & Barrel is known for showcasing the best the world has to offer, from Eastern European and Portuguese glassware and chopping boards, to Indian-made rugs and framed tapestries.
The store also has the latest hand- and machine-made carpets and faux blooms and topiaries from China, and jute and sisal rugs from India and Southeast Asia.
“Nothing is sourced locally,” he said. “Everything is imported from the United States, including Philippine-made baskets and resin accent pieces in the shape of shells.”
But Crate & Barrel’s real strength lies in its huge collection of furniture pieces such as sofas, coffee tables, chests, cabinets and beds. Apart from a few minor changes, these core products hardly undergo “reinvention.”
To make it easier for customers to appreciate these products, Crate & Barrel has in-house visual experts to arrange furniture and accent pieces in vignettes and to assist clients in making choices for their homes.
“Since it’s summer, expect to see plenty of furniture pieces using a great deal of wood,” said Bucoy. “They’re usually made of real wood like pine and oak, and not veneer. And since these pieces were carefully crafted, no home assembly is needed.”
The cottage feel extends to the muslin-like cotton-blend fabric upholstery. But unlike real muslin, the soft, neutral-colored fabric the brand uses for its furniture pieces is kind to the skin.
Instead of limiting it to swatches, Crate & Barrel’s Philippine stores also follow the US lead of having products for customers to touch and feel.
And unlike most furniture stores, it also encourages customers to sit and try its couches and beds.
An even bigger Crate & Barrel’s flagship store in Makati will open later this year.
“We were surprised by the public’s warm reception,” said Bucoy. “I guess that, despite the higher price points, part of Crate & Barrel’s success in the Philippines is brand awareness. Well-traveled and well-read Filipinos know about it.”