By Craig Patterson
Montreal-based women’s fashion brand Éditions de Robes is testing the waters in new markets prior to opening any new stores. Last week it hosted a pop-up space at Toronto’s Yorkville Village Centre to gage the market and neighbourhood, and is eyeing opening a permanent store in the city and possibly other markets as women embrace Éditions de Robes’ unique designs.
The brand is known for its dresses that target career women who want to also look fashionable and feminine. Dresses come in a range of styles and this season, Éditions de Robes has added more colour to its collection, including a range of day and evening dresses. Notable fans include Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.
Éditions de Robes features designs for a range of body shapes and its pieces are meant to be timeless — all are manufactured in Montreal using high-quality fabrics and precision cuts. Fabrics and quality are said to be in line with brands such as Valentino but at considerably more reasonable price points that generally range in the $300-600 range, with some coats priced at up to $995. The company also sells a small range of accessories that includes elegant jewellery and ‘sashes’ that may adorn dresses.
The brand was founded by designer Julie Pesant in collaboration with partner Michel Lepage, and the first Éditions de Robes boutique opened in Montreal’s ‘Mile End’ area in 2012. The store primarily stocks Éditions de Robes’ own designs, and Mr. Lepage notes that about 15% of its stock is from complimentary designers. In the spring of 2017, they opened Éditions de Robes’s second Montreal location, which is located at 2122 Crescent Street in the city’s ‘Golden Square Mile’, and that location only stocks Éditions de Robes fashions.
The Yorkville Village pop-up was a way to gage the local population before opening a permanent store in Toronto, according to Ms. Pesant, who says that the company is still getting to know the city. Face-to-face customer service is key to the brand and even though Éditions de Robes has an e-commerce site, it’s the physical experience that still dominates. Trying on a garment and interacting with retail staff is paramount to the brand, and she noted that face-to-face customer feedback is critical, not to mention there are far fewer returns when something is tried on in a store.
Toronto makes sense for at least one store — it’s the business centre of Canada, and Éditions de Robes caters to a working woman. Deciding where to locate in Toronto will be key — the Financial District has a roster of retailers in its various office building retail podiums, and CF Toronto Eaton Centre is now one of the busiest malls in the entire world in terms of footfall. The Yorkville area, which includes luxury boutiques catering to wealthy locals and tourists, could end up being the choice, though Ms. Pesant and Mr. Lepage are still learning the city.
Other Canadian cities could eventually see boutiques as well, though Ms. Pesant noted that the brand will remain niche and not open too many stores. Keeping things manageable and localized is part of the satisfaction — sometimes a brand can get ‘too big’ and lose its identity, she noted.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.