By Craig Patterson
Montreal-based women's fashion brand Judith & Charles is embracing street-front retail as it plans to open two Canadian stores this spring — one in Vancouver, and one in Montreal. It’s a change in strategy for the retailer, which until 2014 only operated stores in major shopping centres.
The Montreal store will become the company’s flagship and furthermore, will be the first time that the company has had a standalone presence in the city where it was founded. Opening on April 1 of this year, the new store will be located at 2090 ue de la Montagne will span 2,309 square feet. The store will be contained in a restored heritage building in the heart of the city’s ‘Golden Square Mile’.
Judith & Charles is opening the Montreal flagship as it prepares to exit Ogilvy, where it has operated a concession for the past 25 years. Ogilvy is merging with nearby Holt Renfrew to create an expanded ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’ that will be about 250,000 square feet. Part of the repositioning has resulted in many of Ogilvy’s former vendors having to relocate.
The Vancouver store, located at 640 Granville Street, will replace a location about half its size within CF Pacific Centre. The new Granville street store will be 2,293 square feet on one level. The downtown Vancouver replacement store is scheduled to open on May 1 of this year and replaces Ella Shoes that most recently occupied the space.
Street-front retail is a new focus for Judith & Charles, which until 2014 operated stores exclusively within malls (and at Ogilvy). In the spring of 2014, Judith & Charles opened a store at 2207 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver’s Kitsilano area and it got press for moving away from the company’s mall-based retail strategy.
Judith & Charles currently operates 11 Canadian store locations. Of those, three are in Vancouver, four are in Toronto, two are in Montreal, and Ottawa and Calgary each have one store location. Stores are mixed in downtown cores and in suburban malls.
Founded in 1975 in Paris, the Judith & Charles brand was originally named Teenflo. In 1990, Judith Richardson and Charles Le Pierrès bought the brand, moving its headquarters to Montreal. In 2008, Teenflo was renamed 'Judith & Charles'. Priced as a 'contemporary' brand, it is best known for its Italian yarns, exceptional fit and minimalistic styling, and locally-based craftsmanship.