Comparing Canada’s Ardene to International Fast Fashion Retailers

Date:

Share post:

By Karl McKeever

London has seen a fresh injection of new entrants on its high streets in recent months. The most notable recent addition was that of Polish fast fashion retailer Reserved; bringing its brand to the UK for the first time. Signalling its intent, its flagship store occupies prime retail estate on Oxford Street in the capital – its launch fronted by model Kate Moss, once the jewel in the crown of Topshop and owner Sir Philip Green.

H&M has also been opening new fascias apace, with its Weekday and Arket brands landing. The Weekday fashion and denim brand opened in London and Paris simultaneously, while the latter opened two stores – Regent Street and Covent Garden – within days of each other.

Great news for H&M. Or is it? While these new store fascias – along with Cos, & Other Stories, Monki, Cheap Monday and parent company H&M – are undeniably good, they represent only very subtle derivatives of a singular thought. Fresh, lively new branding and continuous rethinking of concepts may help to keep a brand alive. But what happens once the initial excitement of a new opening has diminished?

MONKI REGENT STREET LONDON

Which turns my thoughts to Canadian fast fashion retailer Ardene. In a bid to reinvigorate its retail footprint, it too has recently launched the first in its series of high-concept large format stores, designed to transform the retail experience for its Generation Z core target shopper. This includes a phone charging station, social media section, dedicated product zones and a hangout area.

While I was impressed with the look and feel of the store, on a recent visit to Toronto, I have to be honest and say that I could have been stepping into any one of a number of recent debut concept stores. Familiar fixtures and fittings evocative of other retailers meant that the personality of the brand was quickly diluted.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a strong, credible concept, and an admirably audacious step by a business keen to breathe new life into the brand. But given the desire for Gen Z to seek out the individual, the new and the unfamiliar, Ardene’s new concept perhaps reflects the ubiquitous cloning of the well-researched, rather than deliver the sharp intake of breath at the sight of something untried and untested that its shoppers may long for.

ARDENE
ARDENE

Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, but the remarkable ‘cloning’ effect we’re seeing in many new store openings recently is a serious concern. Reserved’s flagship store on Oxford Street is sharp and well researched, but so close to being a replica of its competitor Zara that, when I visited the store, some shoppers seemed genuinely confused about which store they had wandered into.

Too many retailers seem to have fallen into a ‘more of the same’ trap. Sure it’s easy to do. “It’s edgy. It’s new. Look at their success – we’ll have some of that please.” But retailers must resist this temptation and work harder to define their own distinctive voice. Retail design agencies have a responsibility too – to push back, to challenge and to not take the path of least resistance. The best brands did not become the best because they copied others, but because they did things differently.

Without a clear and unique voice, most retailers find it difficult to sustain the buzz around their stores once the fanfare of the initial launch has left town.

As we head into 2018, what does the future hold for these stores? Can the likes of Ardene, Weekday or Reserved be able to sustain the buzz they created with their launches? Perhaps, if they pay careful attention given to visual merchandising and branding. But with a copycat attitude and box ticking approach, it’s unlikely. I for one will be watching with interest.

Karl McKeever

*See below for more photos, via Visual Thinking.

Karl McKeever is the founder and driving force behind Visual Thinking, a globally recognised retail transformation agency. A renowned retail expert, he has worked with an impressive roster of major global retail brands, including: Gap, IKEA, Harley-Davidson, John Lewis, and Marks & Spencer during his 30 year career. He has also appeared as a judge on BBC TV series, The Apprentice.

ARKET ON REGENT STREET IN LONDON
ARKET ON REGENT STREET IN LONDON
ARKET ON REGENT STREET IN LONDON
WEEKDAY REGENT STREET LONDON

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From Retail Insider

Innovative Direct-to-Consumer Furniture Startup CouchHaus Opens 1st Physical Retail Space in Vancouver [Interview]

The husband-wife team's modular furniture became so popular online that they are opening their own physical store, allowing customers to see the product-in person.

Canadians Look to Make Major Purchases in 2024 Despite Economic Uncertainty: Survey

Economic uncertainty isn't stopping Canadians from planning major purchases in 2024 according to a study, potentially giving retail a boost depending on the demographic.

Canada’s Agri-Food Sector Lacks Vision as Consumers Struggle with Grocery Prices [Op-Ed]

Canada's lack of cohesive vision and strategy for its agri-food sector, despite significant budget allocations, is stark contrast to the decisive approach evident in U.S. agricultural policy says Sylvain Charlebois.

Flexible Work Company ‘LAUFT’ Discusses Expansion Plans and New Government Collaboration [Interview]

Founder Graham Wong discusses the Canadian company's plans for new locations, enhanced spaces for events and content creation, and a future in places such as airports and hotels.

Ice Bath Spa Concept ‘Othership’ Opens 2nd Toronto Location with Expansion Plans for Major Markets in Canada and NYC [Interview]

The company's co-founder discusses the concept that began in his back yard in 2019, which is now a big business with a new Yorkville location and plans for Manhattan and other urban centres.

Anatomy of a Leader: Peter Mammas, President and CEO, Foodtastic

The man behind the food empire got started in Montreal where he wanted to be a pilot, then an architect. He eventually worked his way up in the world of foodservice, where he found his passion.

Nostalgia vs Reality: Exclusive Poll Shows Canadians Warm to Zellers’ Return but Hesitate to Shop One Year After Relaunch

Zellers relaunched a year ago as shop-in-stores at Hudson's Bay, and a poll done for Retail Insider shows that Canadians' think the current offerings fall short.

Cracking the Newcomer Code: Study Urges Canadian Retailers to Adapt for Inclusivity as Immigrants Reshape Retail Trends [Feature]

Making newcomers feel at home could mean increased sales for retailers. Ian Large of Leger says retailers should collaborate with communities as Canada's population changes.

Italian-Themed QSR Chain Fazoli’s Announces Major Expansion into Canada with 25 Locations Planned [Interview]

The chain could open even more locations according to its development officer, who discusses Fazoli's success being rooted in quality ingredients and speedy service.

Toronto-Based Fashion Designer Adam X Discusses Inspiration, Retail and Designing for the Future [Video Interview]

Craig and Adam X discuss the the founding and ethos of Adam X Atelier, a Toronto-based haute couture fashion brand which is rare to find in Canada.

Swatch Opens Flagship Store in Downtown Vancouver as it Expands Across Canada [Photos]

It's the 12th store in Canada for the popular Swiss watch brand, which almost doubled its store count in this country in less than a year.

Economic Strains Dampen Montréal’s Retail Growth, But Luxury and Transit Projects Could Spark Revival: JLL Report

Montreal retail has struggled recently and leasing activity has been particularly slow downtown, while a new luxury mall and a growing transit network could help things this year.

IKEA Canada Launches ‘Second-Hand Tax’ Initiative in Protest of Government Policies [Interview]

Ikea dropped the tax on its 'as-is' marketplace, stating that second-hand goods should not be subject to the same taxes as new products.

Significant Variances in Food Price Changes Not Reflected in Statistics Canada Numbers [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that StatCan numbers on food inflation do not reflect the reality of what consumers are seeing at the grocery store.

US-Based Women’s Fashion Brand Windsor Announces First 5 Canadian Stores, Plans National Expansion [Interviews]

The fashion brand is expected to be a runaway success in Canada, with an existing customer base and a void in the market.

Chop Steakhouse Set to Open in Downtown Toronto, Continuing an Influx of New Restaurants to the Financial District [Feature]

Chop Steakhouse is joining a number of new restaurants and dining options that have opened recently in the Financial District, as the area starts the journey back from a pandemic that took a huge toll on the core.

Virtual Reality Arcade Concept ‘Ctrl V’ Expanding in Canada and the US Following Pandemic Setback [Interview]

The world's first and largest VR arcade franchise is opening new locations across Canada and the US, seeking spaces of about 4,000 square feet.

Good Neighbour ‘Lifestyle Department Store’ Expanding with a New Flagship in Toronto’s Summerhill [Interview]

The unique retail concept that launched 10 years ago in Leslieville has grown its offerings with its newest location catering to locals with a range of produces and a beverage lounge.

Anatomy of a Leader: Ian Rosen, President and COO of Harry Rosen

Rosen discusses his life up to becoming head of the luxury menswear retailer, and discusses what's been happening with the family as new leadership emerges.

Mid-Market Retailers in Canada Navigating Challenges and Opportunities as Consumers Shift [Op-Ed]

Jared Gordon discusses challenges facing mid-market retail, such as declining consumer interest and competition from discount and luxury sectors. Mid-market retailers need to adapt to survive he says.

RECENT RETAIL INSIDER VIDEOS

Advertisment

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Subscribe

* indicates required

RECENT articles

Innovative Direct-to-Consumer Furniture Startup CouchHaus Opens 1st Physical Retail Space in Vancouver [Interview]

The husband-wife team's modular furniture became so popular online that they are opening their own physical store, allowing customers to see the product-in person.

Canadians Look to Make Major Purchases in 2024 Despite Economic Uncertainty: Survey

Economic uncertainty isn't stopping Canadians from planning major purchases in 2024 according to a study, potentially giving retail a boost depending on the demographic.

Canada’s Agri-Food Sector Lacks Vision as Consumers Struggle with Grocery Prices [Op-Ed]

Canada's lack of cohesive vision and strategy for its agri-food sector, despite significant budget allocations, is stark contrast to the decisive approach evident in U.S. agricultural policy says Sylvain Charlebois.

Flexible Work Company ‘LAUFT’ Discusses Expansion Plans and New Government Collaboration [Interview]

Founder Graham Wong discusses the Canadian company's plans for new locations, enhanced spaces for events and content creation, and a future in places such as airports and hotels.

Ice Bath Spa Concept ‘Othership’ Opens 2nd Toronto Location with Expansion Plans for Major Markets in Canada and NYC [Interview]

The company's co-founder discusses the concept that began in his back yard in 2019, which is now a big business with a new Yorkville location and plans for Manhattan and other urban centres.

Anatomy of a Leader: Peter Mammas, President and CEO, Foodtastic

The man behind the food empire got started in Montreal where he wanted to be a pilot, then an architect. He eventually worked his way up in the world of foodservice, where he found his passion.

Nostalgia vs Reality: Exclusive Poll Shows Canadians Warm to Zellers’ Return but Hesitate to Shop One Year After Relaunch

Zellers relaunched a year ago as shop-in-stores at Hudson's Bay, and a poll done for Retail Insider shows that Canadians' think the current offerings fall short.

Cracking the Newcomer Code: Study Urges Canadian Retailers to Adapt for Inclusivity as Immigrants Reshape Retail Trends [Feature]

Making newcomers feel at home could mean increased sales for retailers. Ian Large of Leger says retailers should collaborate with communities as Canada's population changes.

Italian-Themed QSR Chain Fazoli’s Announces Major Expansion into Canada with 25 Locations Planned [Interview]

The chain could open even more locations according to its development officer, who discusses Fazoli's success being rooted in quality ingredients and speedy service.

Toronto-Based Fashion Designer Adam X Discusses Inspiration, Retail and Designing for the Future [Video Interview]

Craig and Adam X discuss the the founding and ethos of Adam X Atelier, a Toronto-based haute couture fashion brand which is rare to find in Canada.

Swatch Opens Flagship Store in Downtown Vancouver as it Expands Across Canada [Photos]

It's the 12th store in Canada for the popular Swiss watch brand, which almost doubled its store count in this country in less than a year.

Economic Strains Dampen Montréal’s Retail Growth, But Luxury and Transit Projects Could Spark Revival: JLL Report

Montreal retail has struggled recently and leasing activity has been particularly slow downtown, while a new luxury mall and a growing transit network could help things this year.

IKEA Canada Launches ‘Second-Hand Tax’ Initiative in Protest of Government Policies [Interview]

Ikea dropped the tax on its 'as-is' marketplace, stating that second-hand goods should not be subject to the same taxes as new products.

Significant Variances in Food Price Changes Not Reflected in Statistics Canada Numbers [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that StatCan numbers on food inflation do not reflect the reality of what consumers are seeing at the grocery store.

US-Based Women’s Fashion Brand Windsor Announces First 5 Canadian Stores, Plans National Expansion [Interviews]

The fashion brand is expected to be a runaway success in Canada, with an existing customer base and a void in the market.

Chop Steakhouse Set to Open in Downtown Toronto, Continuing an Influx of New Restaurants to the Financial District [Feature]

Chop Steakhouse is joining a number of new restaurants and dining options that have opened recently in the Financial District, as the area starts the journey back from a pandemic that took a huge toll on the core.

Virtual Reality Arcade Concept ‘Ctrl V’ Expanding in Canada and the US Following Pandemic Setback [Interview]

The world's first and largest VR arcade franchise is opening new locations across Canada and the US, seeking spaces of about 4,000 square feet.

Good Neighbour ‘Lifestyle Department Store’ Expanding with a New Flagship in Toronto’s Summerhill [Interview]

The unique retail concept that launched 10 years ago in Leslieville has grown its offerings with its newest location catering to locals with a range of produces and a beverage lounge.

Anatomy of a Leader: Ian Rosen, President and COO of Harry Rosen

Rosen discusses his life up to becoming head of the luxury menswear retailer, and discusses what's been happening with the family as new leadership emerges.

Mid-Market Retailers in Canada Navigating Challenges and Opportunities as Consumers Shift [Op-Ed]

Jared Gordon discusses challenges facing mid-market retail, such as declining consumer interest and competition from discount and luxury sectors. Mid-market retailers need to adapt to survive he says.