BRIEF: Jean Machine Closes All Stores, Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Men Lands in Canada

By Helen Siwak, Retail Insider Brief Editor

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Jean Machine Closing All Stores After Four Decades of Denim Dispensing: Canada’s long-surviving Jean Machine filed for bankruptcy in 2017, and while there had been rent relief for some of its 30 locations by parent company Comark, it wasn’t enough. With 10 leases up for renewal in 2019, Comark decided in summer 2018 to shutter the remaining 24 locations still active in the chain. 

The Made-in-Ontario shopping mall retailer had led denim trends with the introduction of the ‘painter-pant’ and created buzz with innovations such as graffiti-covered walls, phone booths where teenagers could make calls for free; outrageous furniture such as orange PVC loveseats, and bringing in the mothers of New Kids on the Block to sign autographs.

Although the CF Toronto Eaton Centre store closes on January 31, the staff were still hustling to ensure long-time clients and those looking for a great sale, are greeted and served with the same personality the chain has been known for. 

No word yet as to future use of the locations or availability after the company closure is completed.

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Sleep Country Now Exclusively Offering European Simba Hybrid: Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc. is exclusively offering the UK-based sleep technology brand Simba Sleep at Sleep Country and Dormez-vous, both in-store and online in Canada.

The Simba Hybrid Mattress-in-a-box is the first of its kind to enter the Canadian market. Developed based on research profiles from 10-million sleepers and 180-million body profile data points, it employs five layers of memory foam with the support of 2,500 patented conical pocket springs.

This newest entry into the mattress-in-a-box competition can be found at all 265 locations starting $999. Since its launch in 2016, Simba has already achieved sales of over 150,000 mattresses across Europe and more than 30,000 five-star customer reviews.

Sleep Country also recently acquired Canadian mattress-in-a-box brand Endy as we see unprecedented competition with more than 100 brands selling similar beds worldwide. 

Photo: Helen Siwack

Photo: Helen Siwack

‘Wizard of Oz’ Inspired Louis Vuitton Pop-up Launches at Holt Renfrew: A selection of Virgil Abloh’s Spring/Summer 2019 Collection is now available in Canada exclusively at a five-week pop-up at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver. Abloh’s first collection as Men’s Artistic Director consists of 56-looks which pay homage to various scenes and themes from the classic Wizard of Oz movie. 

The Vancouver pop-up interior is complete with a stylized yellow brick road, rainbow flooring, and mannequins bedecked in poppy field tops and bomber jackets. The five-week pop-up drew LV fans from the moment the doors opened with a $19,000 white sheered mink ‘denim’ jacket selling almost immediately. 

The event coincides with pop-up’s in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago. Access to the men’s boutique is directly off of Howe Street Men’s Store entrance and operates during regular store hours. Following the pop-up, other Louis Vuitton stores worldwide that carry men’s ready-to-wear will carry Abloh’s collection, including the 150 Bloor Street West Louis Vuitton flagship in Toronto. 

Holt Renfrew Vancouver Seeks Liquor License for Rooftop: When downtown Vancouver’s Holt Renfrew unveiled its private shopping space ‘The Apartment’ in 2017, patrons found themselves wondering how lovely it would be to unwind on the patio after a long day of luxury shopping with bubbles and nibbles. Well, those wishes may be about to come true.

Click Image to download PDF application

Click Image to download PDF application

Vancouver’s pre-eminent downtown shopping destination has applied for a liquor license for booked events, such as fashion shows and product launches, to include both an indoor and outdoor patio. The address listed is 737 Dunsmuir Street and would encompass a 1,200-square-foot pavilion with an interior capacity of 60 people with the adjoining patio providing capacity for an additional 40 people. The license also includes a request to have the location accessible by minors accompanied by adults until 10:00 pm to accommodate those enjoying a meal service.

The requested hours are 9:00 am to midnight, Sunday to Thursday, and 9:00 am to 1:00 am Friday and Saturday. The company is not requesting licensing for music or entertainment. Approval would also be subject to public consultation consultation before moving forward.

An entertainment space makes sense for the highly-productive Vancouver Holt Renfrew store, which last year was said to be selling about $400-million annually. We’re hearing traffic has been down in luxury stores in Vancouver since Q4 of 2018 — stay tuned for more news as we see a shift which could be attributed in part to reduced shopping by Chinese locals and visitors.

Photo: Colette Grand Café (Vancouver)

Photo: Colette Grand Café (Vancouver)

Colette Grand Café x Qeelin Makes for a Playful Tea Time: On February 1st, Colette Grand Café and Chinese luxury jewelry brand Qeelin will introduce a delightful Afternoon Tea service exclusively in Yorkdale (Toronto) and CF Pacific Centre (Vanacouver) Holt Renfrew locations. 

Qeelin has activated similar Afternoon Tea services internationally at venues including The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and The St. Regis Bangkok, but this will be the first Qeelin Afternoon Tea offering in Canada.

The menu includes a curated offering of sweet and savoury items including assorted vegetarian parfaits, French macarons, petit fours, scones, traditional tiny sandwiches with smoked duck, salmon, crab and shrimp, and a vegan avocado toast. 

The delectable service will include a bespoke tea selection by Sloane Tea including Jasmine Snow Dragon, Jade Halo, Rouge Provence, and the signature Holt Renfrew Blend. 

Holt Renfrew introduced the Qeelin jewellry line to its Toronto and Vancouver stores in 2018. The line almost completely sold out and a source says that Holts has more than doubled its Qeelin inventory for 2019.

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Wuxly Movement Conquers Canada Goose et al with Its Live Warm Trade Up Program: The Made-In-Canada Wuxly Movement is continuing its Live Warm Trade Up Program after introducing it in 2016. The company endorses a cruelty-free message and field-testing in the coldest regions of Canada has proven this vegan coat is warmer and more effective in all climates than down-filled and fur-lined coats, such as Canada Goose, Moose Knuckles, and other brands hyping Arctic-level warmth for fashion-obsessed city-dwellers.

The program encourages people to trade in their fur, trim, or down-filled jacket for a credit upwards of $275 towards one of their cruelty-free offerings. The donated jackets are re-distributed to east coast homeless shelters, and the fur extracted from the jackets is donated to animal sanctuaries that rehabilitate wildlife.

Founded in 2012 by James Yurichuk, a former professional football player, Wuxly aims to create an ethical company that provides animal-free alternatives that surpass all the claims made by the trend-based luxury outerwear market. The brand also advocates for fair labour practices and sustainability.

The company currently has 15 stockists from Fredericton to Calgary. 

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IQOS Seeking Consumer Input on New Store Name: With a tagline of “This Product is Not Risk-Free and is Addictive,” IQOS’s five locations have been without storefront signage due to Health Canada regulations regarding advertising of tobacco products. 

In November, Retail-Insider reported on the dilemma facing IQOS, a smoking cessation product which utilizes Heat-not-Burn technology, opened in West Edmonton Mall. As part of a strategy by tobacco giants Rothman, Benson and Hedges Inc to convert current smoking clientele to become ‘smokeless’ by using their products in special devices.

To vote on which name you think the company should employ on their signage, visit their website, and choose between ‘Q-Lab: Smoke Free Alternatives’ or ‘QUBE: Smoke Free Alternatives.’ 

Click below on your favourite choice, and it will be recorded and sent to IQOS.

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Helen Siwak is the publisher of EcoLuxLuv.com Magazine, content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her rescues. helen@ecoluxluv.com

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