Bench (Fashion Boutique)
Bench is a leading lifestyle and fashion chain in the Philippines. The trademark is derived from the acronym of the founder's first and last names (Ben Chan). From its humble beginnings, the t-shirt offerings expanded into a whole lifestyle store, offering Fix Salon for hair products and services, stationary line Prescribe(r), Bench Brats for teenagers, Bench Body and Bath specializing in bath and fragrance products, and now HerBench offering a complete women's line, including fragrances and cosmetics.
Management of the company is shared with Chan's brother-in-law Virgilio Lim who develops systems and operations, while sister Nenita Lim handles finance. Chan devotes his energy to the creative side.
Bench was the first company to value the concept of celebrity endorsers and image models. In 1988 with its first dedicated Bench boutique, Ben Chan hired a then young up-and-coming actor by the name of Richard Gomez as its first image model. As Gomez's fame increased, so did Bench's, paired with increasingly large and beautiful images of Gomez along highways and malls in the Philippines.
Besides beautiful young image models, Bench has also been one of the pioneers in featuring more mature endorsers, including National Artist BenCab, socialite Marixi Prieto, and Congressman Teddyboy Locsin.
Internationally known Chinese supermodel Lu Yan, the runner up in Cosmopolitan World’s International Super-Model Competition held in Paris, was selected by Bench to be the image model of Bench in China. In 2003, Asian superstar Jerry Yan became its image model in Asia. Actor-singer Peter Ho was hired in 2005 and the following year actress-model Qu Ying was hired as the chain's female endorser in China.
Bench's forays into both print and TV advertising have created waves. One of its first TV commercials, "A Day in a Sculler's Life" created in 1991 by Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre featured no voice-over nor copy. It depicted the image model rowing stylistically to the sound of Chopin's "Claire de Lune." Its conceptual daring was rewarded with a Best in Cinematography Award at the Philippine Advertising Congress.
In 1994 Bench opened its first fashion store outside the Philipines in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, soon followed by its first in Shanghai, China. A store opened in Kuwait the following year. In 1997, Bench pioneered the first underwear show in the Philippines. In 2002 the Underwear Show would set a record by attracting 25,000 attendees.
By its 20th anniversary in 2007, Bench had established stores in Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City, San Francisco (open since 2005), Los Angeles (2007), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Guangzhou, Xian, and Dubai, on its road to global retailing. China remains its primary focus with more than 27 company stores and 19 franchises.
Recently Bench has dabbled in philanthropy, establishing the Wear Your Conscience Project with Photobook for the Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation.
- "Documenting Sources from the World Wide Web" About Bench, (Aug. 29, 2007)