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SHOPPERS can freshen up in this all-glass-mirror washroom. Photo by Chito Vecina

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CHANDELIERS are a key design element throughout the store. Above is the café, which has a menu exclusively prepared by Bizu. Photo by Chito Vecina

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THE DRESSING rooms have lush, floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains, plush ottomans and chairs upholstered in similar fabric. Photo by Chito Vecina




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Adora: The store people are curious about

By Cheche Moral
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:55:00 04/17/2008

Filed Under: Fashion, Lifestyle & Leisure

MANILA, Philippines?Contrary to what you might have heard, Adora is not high-end.

That?s what the movers behind the new department store at Greenbelt 5, Makati, would like people to know.

A store that?s all high-end, a spokesperson notes, is ?outdated,? and Adora is after a ?modern customer,? not the kind who wears head-to-toe designer brands.

And though clothing is a chief segment of the total merchandise, they stress that Adora is first and foremost a department store, with sections devoted to home, travel, beauty, fragrances, jewelry. Within the store are also a flower shop and a café.

?Our goal isn?t to do things that are high-end or classify ourselves as high-end,? says the spokesperson.

?People have the perception that it?s high-end just because of the interiors.?

The plush bi-level shop has chandeliers, dressing rooms with lush, floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains, and washrooms of glass-mirror walls?the design of Anton Mendoza.

?But that?s all secondary. The nice store is only a stage; it?s not the star. We have a mix of things that relates to the customer we cater to.?

Their customers are the 25-and-up crop of young to senior executives, so-called ?intelligent? shoppers who have the confidence to mix, say, a designer purse, a Philippine-made shirt and footwear from an obscure Chinese brand.

(The young Filipino president-general manager and the store operations manager we interviewed asked not to be named because, they said, they don?t want to grab the spotlight from Adora the brand. All media requests are strictly coursed through a London PR firm.)

Prestige labels

The name Adora was chosen for its European sound, a word that essentially comes from the French j?adore, meaning, ?I love.?

The store carries prestige labels (Marni and Lanvin accessories, for instance, and clothes from Jil Sander, Missoni, Etro) as well as little-known brands from China, Bangkok and Cebu, so-called ?bridge.?

The price points start from P395 for a pair of Cebu-made earrings to a designer bag with a six-figure price tag.

It carries local brands like the skincare VMV, but it?s also the first store in Asia to carry the fine jewelry line H. Stern, and the first to introduce the premium luggage Rimowa in Manila. Chloe and Givenchy are also coming in.

Majority of these brands are not available in local retail.

The owners want to veer away from the Filipino?s brand-conscious mindset.

?If you want a good pair of jeans,? says the store manager, ?you come to Adora because you know we have a good selection, not because we carry Superfine or Paige.?

?Tyler took so long to take off because people were saying it?s made in the Philippines,? its president says of the specialty fashion boutique run by Republic Retailers Inc., the company that also owns Adora.

?Does it matter? If an item is beautiful and stylish, does it matter if we tell you where it?s made??
(Tyler is owned by the Tantoco-Pinedas, from the clan that is an institution in Philippine retail.)

For instance, he adds, a house brand of fashion and home accessories called Artisan sells snakeskin minaudieres for a fraction of the price of other known labels.

?If we can retail it for P3,950, why sell it for P20,000? Some think just because it sells at that price, it may not be good.?

Lofty goals

Adora aims to be an Asian brand synonymous with premium shopping experience. At 2,500 sq m on two levels, it?s meager compared to existing department stores, but the merchandise are carefully ?edited and curated,? such that the experience is like shopping from the pages of a magazine.

The floor staff is ?well versed on all the items? so that a single person can assist a customer around from RTW to skincare to jewelry. The training, adds the manager, is akin to that of Tyler, which is noted for its exceptional service and knowledgeable staff.

Unlike in Tyler boutiques, however, where most items are not on display but brought out on client request or on recommendation of the sales staff, shoppers can readily access merchandise at Adora.

Men?s dress shirts are neatly piled either in open glass cases or hanging from the racks. Shoes are lined on tables or displayed in open glass niches ?so they float and are the center of attention.?

Settees are also thoughtfully arranged in strategic areas for shoppers? companions. Paying is centralized, such that a customer can pay for her flowers along with her coffee and Narciso Rodriguez dress.

?We won?t do something of this scale if we?re not confident about the market,? its president says. He knows Adora can?t turn the retail landscape around overnight, so that constant fine-tuning is imperative.

Business hours don?t start until 1 p.m. as the mornings are devoted to reorienting the sales team or rearranging the merchandise. And it will remain this way until such time when the Philippines ultimately says, ?I love.?



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