Sentaler, the Toronto-based outerwear firm, is riding the momentum of the Meghan Markle effect.
The company has landed its first Asian account, Lane Crawford, and will be selling two doors in Hong Kong (IFC Mall and Canton Road) and two doors in Mainland China (Yin Tai and Shanghai) this fall.
“Expanding into the Asian market has been at the forefront of Sentaler’s international growth efforts,” said Bojana Sentaler, designer and creative director, adding she was very excited to break into this new market with Lane Crawford.
In 2017, Sentaler scored its first U.S. major accounts, adding Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and bergdorfgoodman.com to its roster. The company sells major stores throughout Canada such as Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew and Saks and has a robust e-commerce business at sentaler.com, where it ships free worldwide with no customs or duties and free first-time returns.
In December, Markle wore a long camel Sentaler wide-collar wrap coat with signature ribbed cuffs while attending Christmas Day service in Sandringham alongside the royal family, as reported. It marked the first public outing with the family for the actress, who has worn Sentaler outerwear and accessories for years.
Sentaler said she was planning a quiet Christmas week when she saw a Twitter post that Markle was wearing her camel coat. “It was her first official event with the Queen, and it sold out right away,” she said. It went to back order and second back order and is available now on the web site.
Sentaler coats have also been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore one during a visit to the Yukon in 2016, and Canada’s first lady, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, who wore a Sentaler coat at the swearing in of her husband, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Sentaler, which is known for its alpaca wrap coats with hoods and ribbed-sleeve details, has been steadily growing the business she started in 2009. “My five-year plan is to expand into the top luxury markets,” said Sentaler.
Right now, her top market is Canada, followed by the U.S. and the United Kingdom. While she doesn’t sell any stores in the U.K. yet, the coats are available through the web site.
The fall collection, which is inspired by mythical stories told in fairy tales, has a retro vibe. Among some of the silhouettes for fall are a bomber with fur sleeves ($1,595); raglan-sleeve straight-cut coat with fur pockets ($1,295); notched collar-wrap coat with fur collar and cuffs ($1,995); bouclé raglan-sleeve hooded straight-cut coat ($1,295), and cape-style coat with shawl collar ($1,095). The fall colors include lilac, violet, atomic cherise and steel blue. Overall, the coats retail from $995 to $2,000.
When she started the business, Sentaler said the market was dominated by puffers and stiff wool coats. She said she wanted to offer “feminine, elegant, beautiful and warm coats.”
Sentaler entered the fashion business in a circuitous way. She started out pursuing a business career and had been working on a media report on investment opportunities in Dubai, when she met Karl Lagerfeld who had been designing luxury villas. Sentaler expressed her love for fashion and a desire to have her own fashion line, and Lagerfeld told her either you have it, or you don’t, and if you have it, go for it. That inspired her to pursue her dreams. She traveled to Peru and discovered luxurious alpaca fabric and took Lagerfeld’s advice to go for it, and launched Sentaler.
The designer explained that the fiber is obtained by sheering alpaca animals, which thrive in the high altitude of the Peruvian Andes. Their hair has microscopic air pockets that provide excellent thermal insulation, which makes the outerwear warm, lightweight and soft to the touch.
Eventually Sentaler said she’d like to launch men’s and kids’ coats.
“We have so much interest, but we’re growing at a pace we want to be growing at,” she said.