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SSI And The Democratization Of Global Luxury And Retail Brands

On the occasion of their 30th anniversary, Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) Group threw a party, and everyone came. From the media, to real estate developers, to society, and the fashionistas, it was the party you just couldn’t miss out on. After all, when it comes to Lifestyle here in the Philippines, SSI are two of the most important letters one can conjure up. For thirty years now, SSI has been the pioneer, the beacon, for bringing the best of global lifestyle and retail brands to our shores. 


For that night, the buzz phrases were curating with passion, being PassionForward, and The Curated Lifestyle. But beyond these lofty words, and elevating what is still a commercial endeavor of multi-faceted merchandise to take on a veneer of social impact and cultural enhancement, the grittier truth of what SSI has done over the last thirty years is to make travel for retail snobbery obsolete, and we bless them for that!



Think about it, back in the 1980s, and on to the 1990s, the moneyed and elite would travel abroad with one big facet of travel having to do with shopping, and bringing back branded items that you couldn’t find here. For many, the most they could do was gaze at their Vogue and foreign fashion magazines with sheer envy, and simply dream of owning apparel carrying these fashion logos. 



Slowly but surely, SSI democratized all this by establishing these fashion brands here in the Philippines. It may have started with the likes of Marks & Spencer; but soon enough, we had Gucci, Prada, and Tod’s from Europe, with the wave of American brands such as Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole, Tory Burch, and Michael Kors following suit.



And if you think of Passion/Fashion Forward, SSI also sensed when the winds of change in retail fashion was stirring, when pronto fashion was becoming the rage, and they further democratized our lifestyle choices across price points, bringing Zara, Gap, Massimo Dutti, Old Navy, and so on, to our shores. They stretched and expanded the possibilities of what shopping at an SSI establishment could mean, broadening the range and deepening the net of SSI customers. 


Other features will highlight the aspect of who were at the party, whereas I elect to let the photos speak for themselves. I prefer to remark on how SSI created a social revolution of sorts via fashion and retail here in our country. This they achieved by making available and accessible what to that point had only been glimpsed at, and ‘tasted’, in foreign fashion magazines, and required those who were in a position, to gain access by travelling abroad. 



SSI was the original in breaking that barrier, with the Tantoco family educating and trusting the Filipino consumer to prove justified their risk in establishing stores for these brands in the malls and depatment stores that dot our urban landscape. They’ve constantly innovated and improved on our local retail experience, they’ve expanded and diversified the brands they carry, and they’ve done so in good times and bad. You can’t ask for more! Congratulations on your 30th SSI!


Lead photo via @metrosocietyph