(Source: Ivy Lisa F. Mendoza, Philippine Daily Inquirer | July 19, 2015)
It started out literally small—in a cramped 11-square-meter kiosk in Shoppesville Greenhills, the famed tiangge haven. Roxanne Ang-Farillas just had to find a way, however small it was, to get her passion for designing out there and find an audience for her creations.
“I’ve always been very passionate about working in retail and clothes. Even in college, I liked to design clothes and sell them to my classmates,” says Roxanne, recalling how she would go to school in De La Salle University with a duffle bag full of clothes and would go home in the afternoon with all her merchandise sold out.
Best gift ever
Roxanne’s then fiancé Erickson thus gave her the best gift ever—that 11-sq m space which became the precursor to the now 70-store clothes brand Plains & Prints. While balancing her academics and the creative side of the business, Erickson juggled working and taking care of Plains & Prints operations.
Today, Plains & Prints enters its 20th year with the same vision for the brand—to create classic clothes that highlight a woman’s intellect and creativity—with the same verve and enthusiasm they had when they were just starting small, but certainly with bigger plans and grander aspirations
And so on its 20th year in the tough, fashion retail business, Plains & Prints goes out into the world as its first huge step to being an international brand, first with its virtual store in Singapore, and very soon, a Plains & Prints boutique.
“Expanding the business to other Asian countries takes the brand another step closer to its vision of becoming a world-renowned brand. Ultimately, Plains & Prints’ vision is to be the Philippine’s premier fashion and beauty brand to the world by making an indelible mark in the global fashion scene and do our country proud,” says Roxanne, who has recently been named by Go Negosyo as one of the Top 2015 Filipino Entrepreneurs.
Exactly a year after its launch, Plainsandprints.sg has already gained popularity and patronage in the Singapore market, composed of locals and Filipino expats.
“We are going heavy on digital marketing. Having an online store is the best way to introduce a brand and acquire a significant market reach at a lower overhead cost. We are penetrating homes, reaching our market without making them step into a store and creating the brand recall we needed because of our online presence in Singapore.
“We were surprised to discover that it is easier to penetrate the Singapore market than we had thought it would be, probably because there are more Filipinos there now,” Roxanne says.
Ironically, this aggressive move to go international comes at a time when giant global brands from Europe, Japan and the US are coming into the country and lining up to get their share of the Philippine market. Add to that the fact that the sophisticated Singapore fashion retail market is replete with many diverse choices, pushing Plains & Prints to face formidable competition.
With all her passion, determination and business sense gained throughout the years, Roxanne is neither fazed nor overwhelmed.
“When we entered the Singapore market, we studied it very well and it did not take a lot to see that the Philippines and Singapore have quite a lot of similarity in fashion and trends. Both are also tropical countries therefore women’s clothing needs are basically the same,” she adds.
Roxanne believes that acceptance of Plains & Prints in the Singapore market came easy mainly because of its designs which are very universal and diverse, serving the market’s different fashion preferences.
“We do not create collections that are meant only for the Singapore market, although in terms of silhouettes, all our pieces are appropriate for the Singapore market, taking in consideration its culture and weather. Why? Because we pour the same discipline into every design, every clothing piece, every product. Our priority is always beauty and quality—no item comes out in stores without going thru the meticulous process of quality control both from our creatives and production. That is why we are very confident that acceptance of the brand outside the country will be easy,” Roxanne says with pride.
Company of firsts
True enough, this drive to showcase creativity has given Plains & Prints plenty of firsts in the Philippine fashion industry. It is one of the first local brand to use digital printing technology for its clothes, for instance.
“We want to push the boundaries when it comes to fashion. Digital printing, for instance, gave a bold effect on clothes, so we thought to be the first Filipino brand to feature it,” Roxanne says.
Another aspect that has made Plains & Prints stand out is its continuous championing of Filipino designers. Top fashion names such as Rajo Laurel, Randy Ortiz and Rhett Eala, have all been creative collaborators of the brand.
“We want to show the world that Filipino design is beautiful, so we were very adamant about getting Filipino designers come collaborate with us. Infact, I think we’re the first brand to showcase Filipino designers this way,” Roxanne says.
“We don’t want to be just another clothing brand but instead, create an image as a platform for Filipino design.”
The brand has also sought to define itself through celebrity endorsers that they believe could best represent the brand. Thus far, they have signed fashion icons such as actress Gretchen Barretto, Celine Lopez, Paula Taylor and stylist Liz Uy. Their latest image model is multimedia star Anne Curtis.
For today, Roxanne and her Plains & Prints team are so geared up to take on more challenges, whether here on the local front, or abroad where much potential is seen.
“With all these foreign brands coming in, I have to say that its quite a challenge because we are all competing for the same purchase power and these international brands have been eating up the market. But I’m realy proud to say that Plains & Prints, being a locally owned brand, is still going full speed ahead, more so as we celebrate our 20th year. It can only get better from hereon in,” Farillas concludes.