TORONTO — Since its modest beginnings in 1926, Canadian retailer Reitmans has learned a thing or two about mastering change in an evolving marketplace.
Now the publicly owned, family-controlled business, which has grown from one woman’s clothing store on Montreal’s Boulevard St. Laurent into Canada’s largest women’s specialty retailer, is undergoing a transformation to better serve a diverse, style-conscious consumer that values accessibility, affordability and self-empowerment.
To that end, Reitmans has joined with other major brands such as Dove and put an end to retouching or altering models’ body shapes in its upcoming fall 2019 ad campaign. It also is launching a new R Line of lingerie.
Debuting on July 29, the move to end retouching, according to Reitmans president Jackie Tardif, is a continuation of the Reitmans Really You platform. It is also rooted in the company’s commitment to embrace diversity and encourage women to feel good about themselves at any size.
“It was time for us to walk the talk in our messaging to consumers,” Tardif told WWD. “Our roots lie in diversity, especially in terms of the sizes we offer in our stores. That is why we wanted to mirror that diversity in this campaign and use it to show more relatable images to Canadian women and promote self-acceptance.”
The R Line will be introduced on Aug. 26 and is a “comfortable, affordable intimates collection that looks good and fits every body type,” as Tardif described it. The collection will include bras ranging in sizes from 32A to 42DD and starting at 44.90 Canadian dollars, or $34.40. It will also offer high-comfort sleepwear (starting at 19.90 Canadian dollars) and underwear (starting at 9.90 Canadian dollars) sized from XXS to 3X.
“We have been working on this intimates collection for a year now, which will be carried in 30 stores across the country,” Tardif said. The R Line will also be available online.
With 260 stores across Canada, “Reitmans has the largest footprint of its kind in this country and is present in many communities. Thanks to this we were able to hear from our customers, who told us that they wanted more access to simple, natural, feminine-looking lingerie in a wide range of sizes that they could afford.
“This is precisely the kind of thing we want to promote. But R Line and our fall campaign complete each other perfectly,” Tardif said.
All this comes as Reitmans rolls out a store pilot project that delivers a more “exceptional and memorable shopping experience,” according to Tardif.
Last April Reitmans unveiled the first of the new concept stores at its Carrefour Laval location in Montreal. Featuring a sleek, black-and-white design, wood accents and neutral touches, the store’s decor and furnishings “welcome customers in for a comfortable visit,” Tardif said.
Moreover, the pilot has an increased use of technology, including digital screens behind cash counters to contextualize current and upcoming products, and greater emphasis on personalized in-store services. That includes access to Reitmans’ new “Conciergerie” service, which gives customers access to online exclusives plus all of the retailer’s inventory, both in-store and online.
This new feature also allows shoppers to have purchases shipped to their home at no additional cost; make pick-ups and returns more easily, and sign up for free, personalized styling sessions with store associates.
“Closing the gap between online and our bricks-and-mortar locations was a priority. But Reitmans’ strength has always been its store staff, as our customers often tell us,” Tardif said.
According to Tardif, six to eight of these pilot stores will be launched by the end of 2019 and the aesthetic for each location will be updated. The “Conciergerie” service will also be rolled out to 30 stores across Canada by the end of the year.
Though Reitmans has no expansion plans for the U.S. at the moment, American shoppers will be able to access its full catalogue online and purchase there as they wish.