Canadian Retailer ‘Oak+Fort’ Expands Product Line as it Grows Network of Stores

OAK + FORT’S GASTOWN STORE PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

OAK + FORT’S GASTOWN STORE PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

By Mario Toneguzzi

Vancouver-based fashion retailer Oak + Fort is embarking on a cross-Canada initiative that will see beauty display pop-ups in several of its stores in major centres.

The “Beauty-on-Tour” launch is offering consumers an opportunity to interact and explore the new beauty collection available as the company expands that part of the business - as it looks to also expand its retail footprint in the future.

“We’re opening two new stores and then sort of re-opening another store or moving another store this year,” said Jason Wong, marketing director for the company.

PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

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CF MARKVILLE MALL PHOTO: CADILLAC FAIRVIEW

CF MARKVILLE MALL PHOTO: CADILLAC FAIRVIEW

“We’re opening a new store in Markham at (CF) Markville (Mall) at the end of June. The other two stores I can’t reveal the locations yet but they’ll be in California. One of the relocations is in California. We’re just moving within the mall but we’re re-doing the entire store. That’s it for this year.

“I don’t have a view out on 2020 yet. But I know we have plans on growing every single year and even more with a focus most likely in the U.S. in 2020.”

The fashion and lifestyle retailer was founded in 2010. Today, the company has 19 stores - six in the United States and 13 in Canada.

Oak + Fort did not open any new stores in 2018 but it did open two new locations in 2017 and several more in 2016 and 2015.

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“Oak + Fort has grown to become a lifestyle brand and we have product lines in women’s wear, men’s wear, jewelry, accessories, home wear and beauty. Our goal really is to create a head-to-toe look in a true lifestyle in which you can have Oak + Fort touch every part in how you engage with the world,” said Wong.

“For us, it’s really about building clothing that you can wear in any situation that really embodies minimalist values and making them really affordable. And so for us it’s like modern essentials as how we frame our design aesthetic and we really take a lot of inspiration from art and culture and design. For us, what we’re trying to do is really create tomorrow’s classics. We’re not about making clothes that people wear one or two times and then throw away. We want people to purchase our product and then to wear them and to love them for years to come. That’s how we take our approach toward building any product.”

OAK + FORT’S GASTOWN STORE PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

OAK + FORT’S GASTOWN STORE PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

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The beauty pop-ups launched May 15 in the company’s Gastown store in Vancouver and will roll out to Richmond, Edmonton, Calgary and end in Toronto on June 24.

Wong said customers have been asking for beauty products.

“We finally decided in the fall of last year to come out with a small collection of beauty and then sort of from there iterate, hear from our customers, learn about what they love and wanted from us, and ended up taking that information, refining the line and this spring we’ve fully in a way launched our full line. We’ve added on a bunch of new products,” he said.

The pop-ups give customers access to one-on-one consultations with an on-site Oak + Fort beauty expert.

The brand first introduced its beauty offering with a soft launch in November 2018 through the e-commerce site and select retail stores in Canada and the US. The collection includes Lipstick ($20), Lip Tint ($18), O Lip ($18), O Brow ($18), O Liner ($20), Color Wash ($18), CC Cushion ($28), O Powder ($28) and Nail Lacquer ($9) as an extension to the brand’s fashion, accessories and homeware collections.

“Our approach to beauty is built on thoughtful minimalism and quality that is attainable,” said Oak + Fort founder Min Kang, in a news release. “Our travelling Oak + Fort Beauty On Tour gives us the opportunity to bring this philosophy to life in the stores while offering our customers across the country a fun and interactive way to engage with our new beauty products.”

OAK + FORT’S GASTOWN STORE PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

OAK + FORT’S GASTOWN STORE PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

PHOTO: OAK + FORT VIA FACEBOOK

Dates for the tour are:

“Part of us taking this out on tour as well is to again further get more customer feedback. Our social presence is quite large and since the beginning of this business we prided ourselves in not only providing our point of view on products but also taking in customer feedback in real time and providing solutions for them with our own purview,” said Wong.

“Essentially part of this pop-up is taking in that feedback and building out new product as we continue to introduce new items and from there seeing where else we can take this pop-up. But in general the beauty line is going to be really, really big for us. Oak + Fort truly is a lifestyle business and beauty for a lot of women, and men, is part of their daily routine - just as important as what outfit they’re going to wear.”

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Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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