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In A League Of Their Own
“The brand promise of Harlan + Holden is ‘saving time so that you can lead a better life.’ It’s such a universal concept but to actually create products around this principle was, in my eyes, very modern, very democratic, and very relevant,” says Mia Tiaoqui-San Agustin, Managing Director for Harlan + Holden, a well-loved retail and F&B concept that has both its flagships in Rockwell.
Loyal punters of the in-demand apparel and footwear label will tell you that its USP is that it doesn’t follow seasons or trends. Essentially, says Mia, “Our mission is to save time in people’s daily dressing habits. We look into the needs, cycles, and activities of our clients and we make apparel that will allow them to live comfortably because they feel good in our clothes, they can move in them and wear the pieces over and over.”
The functional and utilitarian idea started with the visionary and discerning sophisticate, Emmanuel “Eman” Pineda, who spent several years studying an ever-growing market that is increasingly starved for time. More than anything, however, he concluded that these subjects were starved for sincere and efficient service. “Harlan + Holden has a ten minute mission. If we are able to save 10 minutes for our customers, our mission is accomplished. The clothing we produce are solutions in ease of dressing. Ease of wear and care of the clothes. Moreover, at the heart of the brand is our mission to serve. Whatever product, we deliver it with our legendary customer service. Service that people talk about, and know to be sincere and efficient,” he asserts.
Mia, who joined the company in December 2014, has been helming operations here in the Philippines while Eman, the brand’s President has been on top of expansions abroad, namely two retail concepts as well as one dining concept in Korea. As of this year, the band can boast four clothing stores and a coffee shop in Korea (opening this July), as well as expansions in Jakarta.
Adds Mia, “It is not just selling a cowl neck or a tunnel top; it’s selling an approach to dressing. The culture of the company is very systematic. We are constantly building our principles and guidelines so that we can keep improving. I see a very direct relationship between how we work, which is within a solid structure of improvement, and how we develop our products. We harp about “tried and tested” pieces that are our foundation and springboard.”
Naturally, what follows originality is imitation. But this was a flattering sign of sensational success, a milestone for Harlan + Holden in itself. “I’m most proud of the signature styles and cuts that Harlan + Holden has become recognized for, “reveals Mia, adding, “Developing our cowl neck style has launched a thousand brands and has been copied by countless Instagram-based labels, brick & mortar stores, and even designer-led names. We have introduced the concept of a comfortable uniform that is great for travel, easy to care for and can be worn every day. To see even our brand messages and even our imagery being used to promote other brands has been a source of amusement for us.”
After the unstoppable success of the clothing brand, expansions went above and beyond expectations. One big triumph after the other, the question that begged to be asked was, what next?
According to Eman, apparently it was a natural progression to coffee. “Using the same brand values that Harlan stands for,” he starts to explain, “it made sense to move into this.” The “this” he is referring to, of course, the über chic Harlan + Holden Glass House, a café and dining gem that takes on a pretty conservatory theme right outside the Power Plant Mall. “Our value of ‘time’ and ‘ease,’” he continues, “pushed the idea to great coffee without the pain of waiting in line and delivered by efficient staff who love to serve.”
Within this gorgeous space filled with natural light, one will find familiar dishes like steak, Iberian chicken, homemade corned beef, easy pastas and fresh salads and, ambience-wise, the feeling of bringing the outdoors in.
“Rockwell clients,” Mia points out, “are discerning and expect the best. We love that challenge and we practice learning on a daily basis. Rockwell also has a very strong sense of community. We believe in its growth strategy. It’s a very good mix of residential, commercial, corporate and service industries. At Harlan + Holden, we take pride in a serious and carefully crafted growth strategy whether it be entering new markets, developing new categories, or people we work with.”
At the end of the day, looking back on all their many victories, reveals Mia, “ success is recognition from your peers. Loyalty from your clients. Dedication from your employees. Affiliation from movers and shakers. Imitation from competitors.”
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