By Craig Patterson
Popular Montreal-based fashion brand Pajar, known particularly for its boots and outerwear, will open its first two standalone stores this fall as it expands its operations to include a direct-to-consumer model. The retail stores will compliment Pajar’s wholesale network and will also include some product exclusives in a curated environment that will “reflect the brand’s DNA” according to the company.
One store will be located at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and another will be at the Premium Outlets Montreal in Mirabel. The Yorkdale store replaces Nine West in a 1,340 square foot retail space next to luxury watch brand Breitling — Yorkdale is Canada’s most productive mall in terms of sales per square foot, and it’s also one of the largest and busiest malls in the country. Premium Outlets Montreal is Quebec’s leading outlet centre that houses brands such as Gucci, Max Mara, Ferragamo Coach and Michael Kors in an outdoor configuration.
The stores will test the concept prior to Pajar launching permanent retail spaces. Both leases are several months in duration and as such, are considered to be pop-up stores. That’s according to Michel Golbert, Vice President of Pajar and grandson of the company’s founder. Brokerage Northwest Atlantic represents Pajar under the direction of David Bishop and Ryan McCarthy.
Family-owned Pajar, known particularly for its high-quality footwear and outerwear, was founded in Montreal in 1963 by Paul Golbert. Paul Golbert found the inspiration for the company’s name by using the first letters of his name, his son’s name and his wife’s name, (PAul, JAcques, and Rachel), respectively. Pajar has expansive distribution in upscale retailers across the country such as Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, Browns Shoes and David’s Footwear, and the new stores will act to further enhance Pajar’s brand awareness in order to gain market share across all channels.
Pajar’s innovations included creating the ‘Zig-Zag’ boot which is an ‘apres-ski’ item featuring a centre-zip and sheepskin lining. It became the official provider for the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in 1989. The Pajar Canada Heritage Premium collection is manufactured in the same factory that Paul Golbert opened in Montreal’s ‘Plateau’ area when he first became a producer of Canadian footwear in 1973. Boots are lined with 100% genuine sheepskin, and are guaranteed to keep feet warm in temperatures as low as -40°C, according to the company. Other Pajar collections include outerwear such as foldable rain boots, a wide variety of winter coats for men and women, socks, belts, bags, and hiking boots. Some exclusive products will only be found in Pajar’s retail stores, noted Michel Golbert.
The Pajar Sport collection includes urban performance and casual street wear that is manufactured in Pajar’s global facilities in Italy, Portugal, and Asia. The collection combines seam-sealed premium waterproof leather and textile uppers comfort rated to -30 C. The Oslo Apres Ski Collection, handcrafted in Italy, features genuine fur uppers including Fox, Rabbit, and Goat fur along with the hydro-repellent leathers, and seam-sealed construction.
The Yorkdale and Premium Outlet Montreal stores will feature Pajar’s ’DNA’ according to Michel Golbert, including various Canadian heritage/lifestyle/brand images, as well as special seating and even a toboggan in the store. The history of the company will be recognized in the stores, including images of the Golbert family in the 1920’s-40’s selling shoes in Paris where they lived prior to moving to Canada. Pajar remains an international business with distribution in more than 40 countries, notes Michel Golbert, and the company produces nearly a million pairs of boots annually.
Ten employees have been hired for the two stores, which are scheduled to open in early September. The openings are expected to be attended by some notable celebrities, according to the company, with details to be revealed closer to their opening dates.
“Pop-up retail is a terrific way for brands to test the waters before securing permanent storefronts,” said Linda Farha, founder and ‘Chief Connector’ at online pop-up retail platform pop-up go, which also features a curated pop-up match service. “Pajar is a terrific brand with an extensive heritage and given its rapid sales growth, its pop-up stores are likely to lead to permanent locations Canada-wide”
Michel Golbert reflected the same sentiment and said that once the Pajar retail concept is perfected, permanent Pajar stores may be rolled-out across the country. It’s part of an effort to amplify the brand, which already has considerable awareness both domestically as well as internationally.
Pajar is the latest brand to go direct-to-consumer over the past couple of years. Several well-known Canadian outerwear brands have expanded their operations beyond wholesale by opening stores. Montreal-based Mackage began an expansion in late 2015 that now includes stores in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and New York City, with a Calgary store at CF Chinook Centre in the works for this fall. Canada Goose opened its first standalone store in the world at Yorkdale in the fall of 2016, with plans to operate more than 20 stores globally by the year 2020. Last year Montreal-based Moose Knuckles also opened its first concept store at Yorkdale and most recently at Premium Outlets Montreal. All three brands are expected to further expand their network of stores while also maintaining wholesale distribution, not to mention e-commerce.
We’ll follow up with photos of the two new stores when they open next month, and we’ll provide updates as Pajar continues to expand its operations.