In just 5 years, the favorite clothing brand of many a working Filipina, Harlan + Holden, has already evolved into a global presence. From a core collection of just 15 pieces to dipping its toes into the F&B industry with their concept cafes, it is now moving headquarters to Seoul to manage their 20 retail stores spread across South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
It’s not difficult to see how the brand was able to reach this much success. President and founder Emmanuel Pineda’s vision was to create a top-of-mind, classic collection that consisted of garments unrestricted by time or trends––a wardrobe that fights against the norms of ready-to-wear fast fashion.
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While the brand has built quite a reputation in Asia, Harlan + Holden is practically unknown in the West. But with the recent hiring of its first Creative Director in Alessandra Facchinetti, that’s about to change. “Harlan + Holden has well-funded ambitions to become Asia’s next big contemporary fashion powerhouse,” says the New York Times report.
How to say thank you to @nytimes @nytimesfashion for support this new “unaspected”chapter of my career I’m so grateful to all of you especially @vvfriedman and @elizabethcpaton who has been the perfect voice for sign this new beginning. Thanks to the great team I’m working with @harlanholden @wiedenkennedy #aintgotimeforthat #manifesto#alessandrafacchinetti#harlanholden #newyorktimes
The Italian designer is backed by an impressive resume: spending 7 years under Miuccia Prada, taking over Creative Director duties from Tom Ford after his tenure at Gucci, and was famously heir to the throne of the mononymous Valentino himself. More recently, she was heading Tod’s before venturing off to create her own consulting studio in Milan.
Although she has left an impression with each company, not every stint can be considered an outright triumph. Facchinetti spent one year with Gucci and left due to a “disagreement in management.” She was similarly let go from Valentino a year after taking the helm; her designs reportedly didn’t draw enough inspiration from the house’s previous collections.
But her work has left her under the fashion world’s spotlight for over a decade, with critics and fans alike scrutinizing each new collection and career move with fervor. While her professional reputation remains spotty, her design sensibilities have always skewed towards a keen attention to tailoring and craftsmanship. It’s this signature creative vision that has allowed Facchinetti to remain an influence and an irresistible resource in the industry.
What we think Eman saw
We can only speculate, but one collection of Facchinetti’s in particular must have sparked Pineda’s interest in tapping her for the Creative Director position. In 2011, Facchinetti collaborated with Italian hybrid high/fast-fashion brand Pinko to create the Uniqueness label, which aimed to make waves with a fittingly unique concept. A season-less collection of lighter all-climate fabrics would walk the runways, and a day later be made available for purchase on the internet and delivered worldwide. No need to wait months on end for release.
Needless to say, it didn’t get the recognition it was aiming for. Industry voices praised the attempt, but rightly called it ahead of its time. Nearly a decade later and this concept seems to be more feasible, and with the original idea aligned with Harlan + Holden’s goals and aesthetics, Facchinetti has an opportunity to see this iteration through.
Pineda x Fachinetti
There is much to be learned for both founder and creative director. This partnership is Facchinetti’s first foray into the Asian market, and it will be interesting to see how she translates her learnings from renowned design ateliers and make them work for a brand that deals with a larger market. For Pineda, taking a homegrown brand from its roots and bringing it to the global stage is a huge challenge in itself. Thankfully, they can learn from each other.
Before setting off to create Harlan + Holden, Pineda created the clothing brand Tyler, brought in the German luggage brand Rimowa, and actively developed the luxury retail store Adora before its takeover by Rustan’s –– the luxury department store owned by his grandfather Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. Pineda, known to be a maverick retailer with an eagle eye (apart from being media-shy; it is hard to get him in a photograph), has the blood of pioneers—and this venture comes with the full support of the Tantocos.
“This amazing development represents a huge shift in our family’s retail legacy,” wrote cousin and Rustan’s Commercial Corp. president Donnie Tantoco on his personal Instagram account. “May you be one of very few Filipinos or even Asians to compete and thrive with your own brand in the big leagues of the global fashion world.”
With a new menswear line in the works, more coffee shops to be set up, and a flagship store to be constructed in Korea’s largest shopping complex, there’s much to do for the two heads of Harlan + Holden. Only time will tell if they can successfully translate their message to audiences beyond the Asian region.