By  on June 18, 2007

MONTREAL — After 18 months of construction and $50 million—the most ambitious project in the company’s 170-year-old history—Holt Renfrew has officially opened its new Vancouver flagship.

At 137,121 square feet over three floors, the new store, designed by Janson Goldstein of New York, is twice the size of the older, 65,000-square-foot store and is the second-largest store in the nine-unit chain, behind its Bloor Street flagship in Toronto.

It also boasts a men’s wear department that grew from 15,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.

“What’s really beautiful,” said Lanita Layton, vice-president of men’s, footwear and designer children’s wear, “is there’s a giant atrium that gives natural light all the way down to the men’s wear department on the concourse level, so you don’t feel like you’re in the basement.”

One of the objectives of the expansion was to increase existing collections and add new ones, including hard shops from Diesel Denim Gallery, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Giorgio Armani.

Another hard shop is the 700-square-foot Polo Ralph Lauren shop, “the exclusive Polo pony shirts for Canada,” said Layton. “We also have exclusive pieces or limited pieces that are either exclusive to North America or to the Vancouver store. For example, we eight specific suits from Isaia.”

More emphasis will be put on tailored clothing with the addition of Loro Piana, Bamford and Brioni for spring 2008.

The accessories department has also expanded with major case lines, handmade belt buckles from Mexico and fine jewelry from John Hardy.

Like Holt’s flagships in Toronto and Montreal, the new Vancouver store includes a World Design Lab that showcases the best the new designers have to offer.

New selections in men’s shoes include Gucci, John Varvatos, Lanvin, Barker Black and Paul Smith. A new tie can be monogrammed in a customer’s choice of typeface and thread color, while made-to-measure suits can be ordered in an assortment of styles and fabrics.
In addition, first-time customers can enjoy a complimentary facial or free skincare or shaving consultation.

Other amenities include a 6,000-square-foot full-service spa and salon, a 16,000-square-foot cosmetics department, concierge services, personal shopping suites, valet parking, and a rooftop restaurant overlooking the downtown core with a view of the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountain range in the background.

Men’s accounts for about 20 percent of Holt’s estimated $400 million in annual revenue. In Vancouver, men’s wear sales were up 45 percent between Feb. 1 and May 30, versus a year ago, Layton said. That compares with a 20 percent increase in men’s wear sales chainwide.

“Vancouver was struggling for space, and the excitement of having a new store and what we have to offer in terms of fashion was embraced by the population, which propelled our sales,” she said. “Contemporary denim is extremely strong. We have over 900 pairs of denim, which are featured as you come down the escalator. Our sartorial area featuring Dolce & Gabbana and Canali, etc., is also very strong.”

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