Arts & Leisure

New Spanish brand enters the hot fast fashion market

Posted on October 13, 2014

WHEN MOST PEOPLE think of European clothes, they immediately think of haute couture creations from Paris with astronomical price tags. If not that, there are the giant label’s prêt-à-porter incarnations which fetch similarly high prices.

So the idea of clothes from sunny Spain with price tags on T-shirts at P299 can be a surprise.

Those T-shirts come from Sfera (pronounced es-fera), a fast fashion brand from the Spanish company Grupo El Corte Ingles. The company is the largest department store chain in Spain, and under its umbrella, it has travel agencies, convenience stores, and home and DIY stores.

Sfera opened its first Asian venture in SM Makati, right inside SM’s department store.

“We believe that [the Philippines] is a very mature market, and [it] can give us feedback… [on] the behavior and the Asian taste of the customer,” said Guillermo Lopez Garcia, an international manager from Sfera, as he discussed why the brand decided to bring its fashions here.

“We believe that if we can compete and succeed in the Philippines… we can succeed anywhere.”

The brand has a worldwide presence with 216 branches from Spain and Greece to Saudi Arabia.

There were a number of factors that came in to its choice of SM as the location for its first store in Asia, “It’s probably the best partner in the Philippine market, in terms of strength, in terms of expertise, [and] in terms of possibility to get the better locations,” Mr. Garcia said.

The store, which opened on Sept. 30 at the second floor of SM Makati, is compact but complete with a women’s department, a men’s department, and a children’s department.

The clothes have an air of propriety and maturity. “It’s a little bit… more classic,” said Millie Dizon, SM’s senior vice-president for marketing on the brand’s style. “But it has a touch of whimsy,” she said. “It’s something that you can wear to the office, but still something you could wear after office hours,” she added.

As a fast fashion brand, the prices, ranging from P299 to P4,649, are relatively low compared to other European brands but competitive vis-à-vis its fast fashion counterparts. It follows fast fashion’s strategy of quick replenishment and lower prices at higher merchandise volume.

“We believed more in volume than in high market [prices] from the beginning,” said Mr. Garcia. The competition for Spanish fast fashion has become stiff in the Philippines, however, with the presence, for example, of retail giant Zara. “Zara is doing that also, but I think each [brand] has its own identity. We believe that sometimes, the people want something new, more fresh air, you know? Some people don’t like to buy where everybody’s buying,” said Mr. Garcia.

SM already has other Spanish brands in its mix, including jewelry brand Uno de 50 and retail brand Suite Blanco. “Well, Spain is a center of fashion,” said Ms. Dizon. “It’s part of our ongoing goal to have different global brands,” she said.

“I think we’re bringing in Crate & Barrel (the American homeware and furniture brand) also,” said Ms. Dizon, but she added, “Not with a time frame yet.”

Sfera -- coming from the Spanish word for “sphere” -- is a symbol of things that are whole, and complete. Mr. Garcia discussed the significance of the name. “Fashion is a… sphere and you have to make it complete… a total look.”

A store that has everything for the family has found a good home in the mall that claims to “have it all for you.” -- Joseph L. Garcia