Vancouver-based high-end outerwear and accessories retailer Snowflake has re-opened its flagship store in Vancouver’s burgeoning ‘luxury zone’. We spoke with Miel Bernstein, daughter of Snowflake’s founder Rokie Bernstein, about the new store as well as the history of the retailer.
The new 1,200 square foot Snowflake boutique is located at 1135 West Georgia Street, next to Italian luxury retailer Stefano Ricci (which will open in early 2017) as well as Vancouver’s new Trump Tower (hotel and residences). Other luxury brands on nearby Thurlow and Alberni Streets include Prada, Rolex, Burberry, Versace, Strellson, Brunello Cucinelli, Saint Laurent, Moncler and others.
Collections carried in the new Snowflake store are made of fur, leather, cashmere and other fine materials and natural fibres, ranging from outerwear to capes to accessories. Canadian designs feature prominently in the store, including several private-label lines. The retailer has also just launched Snowflake’s first jewellery line, designed by Lindsay Stocking Godfrey, featuring silver and semi-precious stones.
Snowflake began as a 400 square foot boutique in the basement of Sundance Mall in Banff, Alberta, in 1979. Founder Rokie Bernstein opened the boutique to carry made-in-Canada items, at a time when many of the town’s gift stores featured inexpensive Canadian-themed touristy items made overseas. The boutique was the first to sell Canadian designer Paula Lishman's knitted fur, and expanded to support other Canadian companies including Lyn Leather, Norma and Jinx, Gabriel Levy, Annie Choinard and Cheryl Straby.
In 1980, Snowflake’s second location opened at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, followed by its first Vancouver location in 1987 at The Landing (375 Water Street in Gastown). In 1993, Snowflake’s Vancouver presence saw it relocate into the lobby of two notable hotels — one store at the Westin Bayshore (until 2005), and another at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (until the fall of 2010). A location in Whistler, BC, also opened in 1989, at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, and operates there to this day. The company also continues to operate stores at the Banff Springs Hotel, as well as Sundance Mall (215 Banff Avenue) in a street level retail space.
After the closure of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver location in 2010, Snowflake operated out of two temporary downtown retail spaces until securing the West Georgia space for its new flagship. Snowflake’s new Vancouver flagship opened to the public on the afternoon of Sunday, December 11.
Ms. Bernstein said that it’s possible that Snowflake may consider further store expansions in the future, though nothing is in the works as of yet. As several competitors have shuttered operations over the past several years, there could be room for a national expansion for the Vancouver-based retailer.
*Photos were supplied.