G-Star RAW Launches Canadian Mall Expansion

Dutch designer clothing company G-Star RAW has opened a third Canadian store, and it will continue opening locations at a controlled pace as it targets new markets. The brand is also launching an innovative collaboration this week with its celebrity co-owner Pharrell Williams, who acquired part of the company last year. 

G-Star RAW, which retails both men’s and women’s fashions, was founded in Amsterdam in 1989. In 1996, the company introduced raw (unwashed, untreated) denim jeans that come directly from the factory, creating a unique product that gained considerable brand awareness. Designs are often military influenced, including the use of special pockets and trims. 

G-Star operates stores and wholesale accounts globally, with thousands of points of sale. In Canada, it has three freestanding stores. G-Star’s first Canadian location opened at West Edmonton Mall in 2003 — the 3040 square foot store is in the mall’s ‘Europa Boulevard’, across from an entrance to La Maison Simons. A second G-Star location opened in Toronto at 328 Queen Street West in 2012, spanning about 3,800 square feet. This month, G-Star opened its third Canadian store at CF Carrefour Laval, north of Montreal. Our Montreal correspondent Maxime Frechette attended the opening of the 1,740 square foot store, and also wrote about it in French.

(CF Carrefour laval store. Photo: Maxime Frechette) 

(CF Carrefour laval store. Photo: Maxime Frechette) 

(CF Carrefour laval store. Photo: Maxime Frechette) 

(CF Carrefour laval store. Photo: Maxime Frechette) 

(CF Carrefour laval store. Photo: Maxime Frechette) 

(CF Carrefour laval store. Photo: Maxime Frechette) 

According to G-Star Country Manager Mathieu Gagne, G-Star will carefully expand its Canadian operations by opening roughly one store per year for the next five years. Vancouver is the first potential market for expansion, with the potential for one or two stores. A second Toronto store is possible, he said, and at some point a second Montreal-area location could open as part of G-Star's careful growth.

Mr. Gagne explained that shopping centres will be G-Star’s focus for new stores, and that G-Star is designing stores for efficiency, therefore taking less space. New mall stores will ideally be in the 1,600 square foot to 1,800 square foot range, he said, with efficient displays allowing for a full product offering in less space than in the past. Stores feature a product mix with roughly 60% for men and 40% for women, including clothing, footwear, eyewear and accessories. 

G-Star RAW co-owner Pharrell Williams, who is also the brand’s ‘Head of Imagination' is launching a unique fashion line this week called 'G-Star Elwood X25'. It’s described as "a translation of unrestrained self-expression" captured in 25 prints curated by Pharrell Williams. Inspired by original checks, camouflages and traditional patterns from all over the world, these 25 prints "make space for individuality”. 

The prints are photographed on Pharrell Williams and Dutch model/artist Marte Mei van Haaster in an array of industrial and pastoral scenarios. The campaign is accompanied by a behind-the-scenes short feature film and several visual snippets, all shot in analog film. The new Spring/Summer 2017 collection will be available at Canadian stores on Thursday, February 16. 

*Top photo is of the Toronto Queen Street store. 

Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: February 14, 2017