Innovative EcoLuxury Lifestyle Retailer Moves from Online to Brick-and-Mortar in Vancouver

Inside the yet-to-be-finished space. Photo: Helen Siwak

Inside the yet-to-be-finished space. Photo: Helen Siwak

On August 22, a unique 'ecoluxury lifestyle' concept boutique called THECloset YVR opens in Vancouver. It's a bold move for the retailer which formerly only sold its wares online. The collaborative initiative will see partnerships with local as well as international designers, creating an experience unlike any other retailer in Vancouver. 

Entrepreneurs Helen Siwak and Vladimiros Xanthopoulos spearheaded the new retail initiative, securing an intimate boutique space at 360 Carrall Street in Vancouver's Gastown, next to award-winning restaurant PiDGiN

THECloset YVR's story began as a hobby, with its founders selling 'thrifted' luxury items on its website The retailer's exceptionally-curated collections quickly gained a loyal following, resulting in a series of pop-up stores and other temporary brick-and-mortar initiatives. As business continued booming, Ms. Siwak and Mr. Xanthropoulos saw the opportunity to better connect and create lasting relationships by opening a physical store where customers could browse collections at their leisure. The physical store also provides opportunities for events and personal styling. 

360 Carrall Street, Vancouver. Photo: Helen Siwak

360 Carrall Street, Vancouver. Photo: Helen Siwak

Collections will be 'curated classic' as opposed to trends, according to Ms. Siwak, with a focus on luxury brands rather than fast fashion. Only about 25% of the boutique's floorspace is reserved for consignment, with the rest devoted to 'ecoluxury'. Ms. Siwak explained the concept of ecoluxury and how every garment, accessory and item of footwear has passed through at least one set of hands (making it ecofriendly) while being a luxury item because of its quality and label. The ‘lifestyle’ component refers to all additional complementary products, including vegan grooming products, upcycled/recycled accessories, decorative homewares and artwork, created by artisans living in British Columbia.

 "We definitely saw an opportunity to add ecofriendly philosophy to an upscale resale boutique. Not only do Vancouver shoppers want luxury products but they also desire uniqueness at an affordable price point. They will be able to find this through ecoluxury resale."  - Helen Siwak

THECloset YVR will also exclusively stock fashions by international designers such as Portland-based Michelle Lesniak (Season 11 winner, Project Runway) and Marita Mamuchashviili (Vancouver Fashion Week, from Tsiblisi, Georgia) and is in talks with Vancouver’s Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to be the only retailer of Sea Shepherd merchandise in Vancouver. In addition to modern luxury designers (including Giorgio Armani, Versace, Gucci and Dior), the boutique will carry pieces by legendary designers such as Mary Quant, Jean-Charles de Castelbejac, Courreges and Alberta Ferretti.

“We view ourselves not just as a resale boutique, but as an eco-shopping experience,” said Ms. Siwak. “Our mission is to provide our clients with a wide range of the highest quality in luxury garments and the opportunity to be assisted by professional stylists in a welcoming atmosphere with value-added services and refreshments.”

Clients will also be able to have their measurements and designer preferences added to the in-house VIP database, shop with the assistance of professional in-house ecostylists, and even arrange to have their purchases delivered to their home or workplace by the same day. With additional strategic alliances created with other Vancouver entrepreneurs, clients will also receive eco-coupons for Pressed & Proper executive mobile dry-cleaning and Diamond Bright Smile’s tooth whitening service. Consignment clients will have access to complimentary authentication and appraisals through two off-site professionals.

International stylist Dominique Hanke (of HankeStyle and Hive Mind Millinery) has joined THECloset YVR as lead in-house ecostylist. She will take consultation appointments each Monday and private appointments in the evenings for those who wish to purchase one of the various customizable ecostyling packages available.

Other unique features to THECloset YVR will be monthly mini in-store pop-ups by local designers and artists, the introduction of the private fashion lounge club to be named 'THESalon YVR', the presence of a loveable security dog named Snickers (wearing custom upcycled fashion by designer Stevie Crowne), ‘No Tax Tuesday’, ‘Thoughtful Thursday’ charity shopping nights, and a new window display every Monday which celebrates the birth dates of legendary luxury designers.

With the affordable luxury resale market gaining momentum, unique niche market boutiques like THECloset YVR are positioned for expansion/franchising into cities with multiple large chain thrift stores and a strong artisan community to support the businesses. Ms. Siwak says that her company already has plans for expansion into Victoria, BC in late 2016, to take advantage of the city's lack of high-end consignment boutiques and marketplace for high price point artisan goods.

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: August 12, 2015