Raul Francisco creates the first Filipino men’s luxury brand
LIVIN’ AND LOVIN’ - Tetta Ortiz Matera (The Philippine Star) - January 8, 2014 - 12:00am

There was a time when fashion was considered women’s exclusive domain and men’s fashion was an afterthought, playing second fiddle in a business devoted primarily to women. But the tides have since turned and the supporting actor that is men’s fashion has now taken on the lead role, playing the main character alongside women’s fashion with momentum shifting towards the male consumer.

In the past decade, there has been a cultural shift that clearly established men’s increased interest in fashion. Experts say this was fueled by the global increase in the number of “high-net-worth individuals” and aided by the proliferation of male fashion bloggers. All of a sudden, men were dressing nicer and investing more personally in their appearances, buying more frequently on their own rather than solely relying on their girlfriends or wives to shop for them. International luxury brands were quick to pick up on the shift and the profitable wave, opening standalone men’s stores and introducing new product lineups including luxury men’s accessories.

Available statistics show the sales of this particular segment of fashion shooting up by 14 percent annually, nearly double the pace of women’s fashion. Experts also note that men seem less shy about buying accessories. These developments, as well as the constant factor of Filipino creativity, are what fuel Raul Francisco, the visionary behind the newly launched Eterno brand.

Eterno is the first-ever Filipino men’s luxury accessory brand to open on the local retail market, a concept that took flight after months of market research here and abroad on the part of Raul. The savvy entrepreneur, who has been in the fashion business for a number of years with his very charming and beautiful wife Joanna Preysler, has gained a loyal following among the fashionable set in the country with their Tint, Carbon and Joanna Preysler boutiques. Raul Francisco felt that the timing was right to introduce a store like Eterno in Manila since Filipino men have become more style-conscious and big fans of quality luxury products and not necessarily just the big brands.

Eterno is very much Filipino as it is global since it takes its inspiration from Raul’s extensive travels and observations of men’s fashion. He was particularly taken with the men’s fashion on a recent trip to Japan, impressed with the ease by which the Japanese men on the streets of Ginza, Shibuya and Omotesando effortlessly combined colors and styles, topped off by bags in all shapes and sizes.

“They all had such unique, distinct looks; everyone seemed comfortable and confident in their personal styles,” observed Raul.

Eterno products are exclusively made with exotic skins and premium leather all designed by Raul Francisco. While he uses certain exotic skin from a crocodile farm in Mindanao, almost all the accessories are produced using imported, high-quality materials. Each impeccably crafted accessory is designed to appeal to a niche market of affluent male consumers who prefer discreet luxury versus over-branding, who like to look elegantly stylish without trying hard.

Eterno is an Italian word that loosely translates to forever and the brand’s products reflect this to a T. The timeless, carefully curated product range of Eterno reflects an old world luxury melded with modern appeal; textures and layering are integral to the brand’s design aesthetics.  Its collection of finely-crafted MAGS (men’s bags), belts, wallets, portfolios, duffels, utility cases and table-top accessories in rich earthy and vivid bright colors of crocodile, python, stingray, and ostrich skin plus Italian leather is ideal for the 21st century male — very international, very discreet highly-successful individual, a man’s man who steers clear of flash and opts for understated flair, who avoids trends and is instead a purveyor of polished bespoke elegance, timeless in every sense of the word.

Eterno offers unintimidating luxury. The boutique in Greenbelt is welcoming; its subdued hues in modern minimalist design utilizing locally sourced materials and Filipino-designed interior statement pieces is both calming and inviting. The products are displayed sparingly, giving them enough space to shine and capture attention. The large hornback croc vertical tote with a detachable shoulder strap lined with calf-skin leather in delicious dark brown is the ultimate accessory to jaunts about town or a weekend getaway. The mobile phone cases in bright, fun ostrich, python and croc belly offer the perfect fashion cover-up for iPhones. The utility case in classic black hornback croc with double-zip detail and calfskin leather lining is a fresh updated take on the otherwise plain predictable version.

The photo frames in colorful stingray skin are collectible-worthy, fabulous for placing around the house with one’s most memorable photos. The sleek, handcrafted wallets in varying sizes have ample space to carry currency of any kind and important documents. The rock-cut crystal tabletop utility jars with steel top and croc tab for opening are simply gorgeous — accent pieces that represent form and function in fashionable sync. The quirky heart-shaped key holders in Siamensis croc belly can easily hold the key to your house, your car or your heart.

Eterno has something for everyone; its price range allows clients to be conservative or to splurge, depending on the occasion. The price tags are definitely representative of the products’ quality and design; no eye-gouging numbers that will make you turn and walk away with nothing. The tasteful packaging adds value to the product and the staff service is efficient and wholehearted. Who needs foreign luxury when we’ve got homegrown luxury? Without a doubt, Raul Francisco nails the ideal men’s luxury experience with Eterno.

* * *

Eterno is located at the G/F of Greenbelt 3 Mall, Makati City (955-7103 or +63-917-8147151). For details, follow the brand on Facebook (Eterno Manila). Photos by Jinggo Montenejo (0999-883-7819 or www.jinggomontenejo.com).

Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @TettaOrtiz.

CARBON AND JOANNA PREYSLER COM ETERNO ETERNO MANILA FASHION LUXURY MEN RAUL RAUL FRANCISCO
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