by Rea Gierran
MANILA – If there’s one thing that Ben Chan teaches us best, it is the belief that the only way to move forward is by looking back to your own roots. For so many years, Bench, the Philippine’s largest clothing chain, has been celebrating local heritage, and now on their 25th anniversary they’ve found a new angle in honoring Filipino culture through their Love Local campaign.
“Going back to your local roots gives you a sense of self-appreciation, which is so important. To compete globally, you have to love yourself first, have a strong sense of pride in who you are and what you are made of. That way, you know your place in the world and where you stand in the whole scheme of things,” Ben shares in an interview with adobo magazine.
Bench has always been geared towards campaigns which have nationalistic themes. Their Pinoy Pop Culture book in 1990 was immediately followed by Pinoy Lab and numerous other projects and campaigns since then. “My vision for Bench to become a global brand would not have been possible without first celebrating our local roots. So it has been cyclical over the years — the yin and yang between local and global,” he says.
Incidentally, Bench has been also working on the FASHIONABLE FILIPINAS coffee table book for a couple of years already, which is about the evolution of the terno from 1860 to 1960. The book aims to rekindle pride in one’s own. This project inspired Chan to launch a full blown campaign consisting of billboards, store visuals and merchandise, two books and a series of events.
Limited edition collection of white t-shirts featuring a bunch of well-loved homegrown brands like Choc-nut, Lily’s peanut butter, Mang Tomas sauce, Victory Liner, Liwayway Cornstarch were also launched. “The graphics were done by some acclaimed Filipino illustrators,” Chan adds.
Having been in the industry for so many years, adobo magazine asked the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2013 awardee how he stays relevant. “As a fashion brand, that is what you have to ask yourself every morning! We stay relevant by staying multi-dimensional, linked to not just fashion, but show business, pop culture, arts, media, sports, society, education, business, you name it. We cannot be confined to just one or two fields, but to every field of achievement and endeavor. That is how Bench stays relevant,” he concludes.