It’s no doubt that Vancouver is on the verge of a fashion revival thanks in part to a long list of new retailers popping up in the city. In the last year alone, US heavyweights like Victoria Secret, Tory Burch, LOFT, and Marshalls have opened Vancouver locations, allowing a more diverse offering for Vancouver shoppers. But if big store brands or retailers aren’t your cup of tea, here’s a list of new boutique openings that favour a more exclusive, one-of-a-kind experience:
1. Max Mara ‘s Bridal Boutique, the first in North America (3025 Granville Street)
Tucked away at the back of the new 3,850 square foot Max Mara Vancouver flagship location (previously the Windsor Gallery), the bridal boutique offers an intimate and personalized shopping experience that’s by appointment only. Up until now, brides looking for the iconic Italian brand’s wedding gowns had to fly to Europe, and even then, only to certain locations.
Today, Max Mara’s Vancouver bridal boutique offers 14 Giambattista Valli-designed gowns to choose from through a prêt-à-porter concept, meaning that all size runs of the gowns are kept in stock at the store, with in-house dressmakers doing custom-fit alternations in as little as one day. This way, no Max Mara bride has to wait months for her gown to arrive before a fitting.
When touring the shop with Catherine Guadagnuolo, president of Vestis Fashion Group, who introduced Max Mara to the Vancouver market 30 years ago, I was taken by the luxurious fabrics like silk tulle, and the classic simplicity that the gowns offered, proving that head-to-toe beading and sequins aren’t always required for a glamorous wedding day ensemble. Where Max Mara offered sparkle was in their delicate accessories, such as tiaras, headpieces and veils. But perhaps the biggest surprise of my tour was discovering the price points; all the gowns range from about $2,500 to $4,000, a welcome notion when buying probably the most expensive purchase in your closet.
2. Judith and Charles West Fourth Avenue (2207 West 4th Ave.)
I’ve been a long-time fan of Judith and Charles, the Canadian womenswear brand that was founded in 2008 by duo, Judith Richardson and Charles Le Pierrès. What drew me to the brand and keeps me a fan today has always been their extremely well executed tailoring, and fresh approach to modern office attire. So you can imagine how excited I was to hear that Judith and Charles was opening a new location in my Kitsilano neighbourhood, their third in Vancouver, giving me a dangerous proximity to their gorgeous and timeless pieces like blazers, pencil skirts and day-to-night dresses.
I recently visited Judith and Charles’ new West Fourth location during their launch party, and was greeted by a much larger store, set against a clean white backdrop, carrying the brand’s full collection, including some much-coveted accessories. Read my full Judith and Charles’ experience on Vancity Buzz, in the meantime, here are some highlights from the launch:
3. Obviously Chic Pop Up Shop, Open until April 7 (At The Chinatown Experiment, 434 Columbia Street)
An explosion of sparkle and girly gorgeousness has made its way into Vancouver’s Chinatown by way of online retailer Obviously Chic. Located at rotating shop space The Chinatown Experiment, Obviously Chic’s first Vancouver popup offers much of what shoppers have come to expect from its fun e-commerce site: shabby chic décor, statement necklaces, flirty tutus, and feminine pieces that beg for a night on the town with your closest girlfriends.
Owner and founder Jessica Cote began doing popups for her online store five years ago in her native Saskatchewan, and has still stuck to her original mandate of providing must-have pieces that are affordable…like seriously affordable, most items are under $100. But hurry, the Obviously Chic Vancouver pop up is only open until Monday, April 7 before taking its gems to the next lucky town.
Consider yourself, styled-in!