First came the talk—we heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that Forever21 was opening in Cebu at the SM Northwing.
Next came the confirmation. One by one, a huge chunk of the Northwing’s second floor and part of its ground floor were closed off and up came the tarps, bearing images of the brand, models smiling cheekily, a pair of booties that you hope they’ll carry once the store does open, and several other pieces that we already swore would be ours.
And when we found out that our boutique firm, A-List Events, PR & Advertising, was to have the enormous pleasure of helping put together the Forever21 Cebu launch party, we knew it would be big. But nothing could have prepared us for just how big.
The Forever21 Cebu launch party last Nov. 17 at SM City Cebu’s Northwing Atrium was, in sheer size, worthy of its Cebu store—all 2,836 square meters of it.
In honor of one of the brand’s landmark branches, the Northwing Atrium was transformed into New York’s Times Square with an oversized LED screen, showing images of the iconic intersection and a three-dimensional panel that occupied one side of the atrium, featuring a scene of Times Square lit up at night with a pop-out yellow cab so quintessentially New York.
While there were 500 expected guests, 800 turned up, adding to that bustling, animated vibe that is reminiscent of Times Square.
Thankfully, though, guests didn’t dress up like the myriad of tourists one finds there, but rather adhered to the invite’s dress code of New York chic. Cocktails served were also American diner-inspired, staying true to the event’s overall New York theme.
Forever21, which has come to the Philippines through a partnership with the SM Retail Group, promised its guests an evening of fun, fresh and fearless fashion, and that was exactly what they delivered—a fashion show of the latest looks from the brand with an introduction to one must-have fashion accessory, the Forever21 BDO Mastercard.
The show was hosted by local TV personality Blinky de Leon, directed by Edwin Ao, and featured graphic-design visuals by Mikey Sanchez, which played on the LED screen, complementing each of the featured runway looks.
The fashion show opened with five looks for women, featuring grunge and street-inspired clothes. Lots of leather, some denim, a few hoodies thrown into the mix, and hints of leopard for a touch of glamour evoked New York’s urban, downtown style.
Next was another set of looks for women that paid homage to the recurring ’70s trend—think bell bottoms, knit vests and floppy hats in warm tones of camel, burnt orange, burgundy and forest green. In contrast to the rock ‘n’ roll and hippie-inspired collections, five preppy looks were also on show. There were oversized cardigans, shrunken blazers, cable knits and some knee-high socks for added quirk.
The finale of the women’s portion was a lesson in holiday dressing. Tailored jackets layered over playful, sequined pieces, woolen tights cleverly paired with a pleated party dress, and a bit of on-trend faux fur seem so right for the season.
While there was no shortage of fashion eye candy for the mostly female guests, the men weren’t left out either, as the program showcased two sets of looks from 21 Men. The first was cabin-inspired, featuring plaid flannels, corduroy and cargo pants, heavy knits and cute toggle accents.
The second look was dressier, showing off Forever21’s suiting collection—dress shirts in jewel tones, woolen and silk pants and jackets that would be great for work or a fun night out.
And because Forever21 has a line for fashionistas-in-the-making, the show also featured a few looks from Forever21 Girls for the preteen set. The more casual pieces consisted of denim and fur-lined vests, military jackets and adorable ponchos all topped off with metallic accented sneakers. The dressier looks featured stylish party dresses, cozy cardigans and smart pea coats, pieces we would’ve grabbed off the shelves had they been made in our size.
Immediately after the fashion show, guests flocked to the Forever21 Cebu store entrance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony with SM Prime Holdings Inc. president Hans Sy and Forever21 executive vice president Larry Myer. Once the ribbon was cut and the doors officially opened, guests were treated to some serious instant gratification when they got a chance to shop at the Forever21 store, getting first dibs at the merchandise, including the covetable pieces in the fashion show, a full day ahead, as the store wasn’t opening to the public until the next day.
To say there was a mad rush to the store would be an understatement. Some guests were more strategic shoppers than others, choosing to wear comfortable footwear, the better to run with and go after that last lust-worthy leather jacket, should the need arise.
While you would think this sort of enthusiastic response was coming only from the young, you’d best think again, as even the more mature guests found themselves in the fray.
If the Cebu launch party was any indication, Forever21 has proven that it is for everyone because, really, 21 is just a state of mind.