Retail visionary and fashion arbiter Eman Pineda has turned harlan+holden into a popular yet fashion-forward brand, whose clothes appeal to stylistas as much as to on-the-go corporate women.
This year, the brand stirs yet again the market with the launch of its “impossibly light” active shoes.
Pineda’s answers to our questions are very interesting:
To what will you attribute harlan’s success in a highly competitive fashion retail now?
We know that we are about “ease” with the goal of improving the quality of our lives, so everything we do should be around that.
Whether it is about making comfortable clothes, or creating nutritious meals toward a healthier lifestyle, or saving people 10 minutes to get ready so they can use that short time on something more important, our brand strives to make life a little better in this ever more complex world we live in.
We are very focused. As tempting as it can be to add a print or an embroidery or an unnecessary bow, we avoid that.
As we have said numerous times over, we are anti-trend.
We keep going back to what we are good at and concentrate our efforts on improving this. We love our sense of uniform. We don’t go big; instead, we go deep.
What’s the market harlan has captured?
Intelligent and modern women, and now men. Our clients value their time. They come to our stores and they expect the best service so our staff needs to be able to help them make decisions quickly.
We see that our market loves fashion, but they are not a slave to it.
They will still have dresses and suits made for special occasions or buy occasion-wear but they turn to harlan+holden for their uniform; for the pieces they know they can rely on every day of the week.
And dare I say our market is practical. Fashion, many times, wants to shock and be different. Our clients love harlan+holden because our clothes work for them.
Where are you taking it? Style direction? Business or market direction?
What is important is that whether we launch a car tomorrow or a hotel, we stay true to our DNA, our values, our message: time, ease, comfort and quality of life.
In RTW, we are maintaining our clean tailored design aesthetic while extending to other product categories; shoes is the new category we launched this year.
Camino is our entry into Men’s. Male friends and partners of our female clients have been asking us when we will launch a full-on men’s collection and that might be one way to take the business.
On to the exciting part—what gave rise to Camino?
In RTW, it is important to have a complete offering to the customer of harlan+holden, and that inevitably meant having a point of view in shoes.
Not only was Camino a first entry into the shoe market, it was also a good way to enter the men’s market. Camino shoes is harlan+holden inside and out. Easy and extremely comfortable. It’s that one pair of shoes that the customer can rely on day in and day out.
Can you talk more about Camino?
Camino is really about being impossibly light. harlan+holden embarked on a journey to come up with the lightest shoe in the world. The outcome is shoes lighter than slippers!
By having it super lightweight, the feeling you get is like you are not even wearing any shoes. Moreover, the innovation lies in quadruple cushioning. Two outer layers of a new techno-material, plus memory foam to help mold the inner sole to your feet. The final top insole is leather, to help in the breathability of the shoe.
Believe us, once you try it, you may not want to wear any other pair.
Not just comfortable and easy to wear, but also to help navigate you through the week, Monday to Sunday. We’ve also heard customers tell us that this is the only pair of shoes they bring when they travel!
Apparently, it’s a product that meets not only a want, but also a need?
Exactly. We always go back to the brand’s 10-minute mission. Are we able to save you time with the products we offer? This shoe should not only be able to save you a couple of minutes—from thinking of what to match what you are wearing it with, to actually wearing the shoe itself: slip-ons! harlan will never have laces in their shoes, to having the need for comfortable walking shoes.
What is the Camino Challenge?
To test the comfort of Caminos, harlan+holden invited seven participants from Manila and abroad to climb the Himalayas in Caminos. These participants were chosen based on their dynamic lifestyles, digital proficiency and their love of travel and adventure.
The Camino Challengers were tasked to document their four days in Bhutan and give honest feedback on the comfort of Caminos.
Although Caminos were not created as a performance shoe, we felt that if you can walk up mountains and trails for 8 to 9 hours a day in your Caminos, you can wear these shoes anywhere.
The Camino Challengers are Caroline Issa, Kim Jones, Jeremy Langmead, Mark Nicdao, Monica Urquijo-Zobel, Liz Uy, Tim Yap.