By Craig Patterson and Maxime Frechette
Upscale Montreal-based outerwear brand Quartz Co. has opened its first physical retail space in the ‘Mile End’ area of Montreal. The location acts as a brand activation and test space for Quartz Co., and the company’s President says that more locations could be on the way.
The Montreal space, located at 5445 Avenue de Gaspé, spans more than 5,300 square feet. Natural materials were used with a mixture of wood, aluminum and concrete throughout. Design firm Rainville Sangaré conceptualized the space which is intended to have a “pure” design to showcase Quartz Co.’s expansive selection of outerwear as well as other categories.
NEW QUARTZ CO. LOCATION INCLUDES SHOWROOM, RETAIL SPACE, DESIGN STUDIO, AND EVENT SPACE
Included is a showroom area, retail space, design studio, and a space to host events and pop-ups. “We have succeeded in creating a unique destination based on minimalism, timelessness and innovation to present our coat collections and get closer to our customers. We decided to pursue this project, despite the COVID-19 context, because of our commitment to offering our customers a complete brand experience,” said Jean-Philippe Robert, President of Quartz Co.
For the first time, the entire selection of Quartz’s winter coats and other products can be found under one roof. “Customers will also have continuous access to exclusives and new releases to encourage them to visit us regularly. This is where we will unveil our Quartz Co. product line, including masks, sweaters, t-shirts and accessories. Pop-up collections of books, artworks and household items will contribute to a warm and friendly atmosphere,” Mr. Robert said. The retail space currently features a selection of items such as FRAMA brand candles, books and other basic accessories such as socks and mittens. Montreal correspondent Maxime Frechette said that the retail space houses t-shirts for $49 and hoodies priced at $149 — a bargain compared to the jackets that are priced between $700 and almost $1,500 depending on the style.
Part of the new space includes a design studio, where customers can see the manufacturing process live. That includes sewing machines, sewing tables and other instruments that are intended to give the location a “special feel” by showcasing Quartz Co.’s made-in-Canada design. The space is also designed to be able to host events.
There’s also an office area where teams can meet, and the showroom where wholesale customers can check out the latest Quartz Co. products. “Wholesale will remain an important part of the business,” said Mr. Robert, with the new retail space helping generate brand awareness while also showcasing the brand to wholesalers. The retail space also acts as a “lab” to test products and processes. New accessories, tote bags, hats and the like will be launched in the space and if they perform well, products will be distributed in Quartz Co.’s wholesale partners as Quartz transitions from jackets into an expanded lifestyle brand.
WHOLESALE CONTINUES TO BE IMPORTANT MODE OF DISTRIBUTION FOR QUARTZ CO.
Mr. Robert explained that unlike some brands, wholesale will continue to be an important mode of distribution for the brand which is available in more than 300 multi-brand retailers in 20 countries globally. More than 100 people are employed by the company and that number is growing.
Wholesale partners in Canada include retailers such as Holt Renfrew, La Maison Simons, Altitude Sports, gravitypope, Atmosphere, SAIL and other major retailers, as well as exceptional independent stores. Internationally, retailers such as Isetan in Tokyo, Le Bon Marché in Paris and Breuninger in Germany carry the line. The biggest markets for Quartz Co. globally include Canada, the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Norway, and Greenland.
QUARTZ CO. OUTERWEAR PRODUCTS. PHOTO: MAXIME FRECHETTE QUARTZ CO. OUTERWEAR PRODUCTS. PHOTO: MAXIME FRECHETTE
The new Montreal retail space is located in an industrial area that was once home to a robust garment manufacturing trade, and continues to be home to design workshops including Quartz Co.’s headquarters. Mr. Robert explained how the the new store is a destination within the heart of the community, noting that the purchase of a pricey winter coat is a high-involvement purchase investment for most. Customers can make an appointment online at quartzco.com or by phone. At no cost, staff in the store can prepare a preselection before the customer’s visit.
Quartz Co.’s new FORWARD parka line is described as a “responsible winter coat line for women and men” that is completely designed and manufactured in Québec. High-tech materials used include fabric woven from recycled fibre. The water-resistant, breathable fabric offering effective wind protection is made from plastic bottles and dyed according to a Bluesign certified process. The new line is offered in a range of classic colours inspired by nature including black, graphite, navy blue, bottle green and sand. All the coats come with a lifetime warranty and repair service if needed.
“Every detail has a function to it,” explained Mr. Robert. “There’s no bling, big fur trim. We use fur only for its functional purpose,” he explained. Down used in parkas is ethically sourced and has a high warmth factor.
The company is also expanding. Last year Quartz Co. acquired Confections Stroma, allowing Quartz Co. to doube its production capacity in Québec. The company says that it is keeping up the momentum in 2020 by expanding its factory in Montréal’s St-Michel borough. New equipment was purchased to produce thousands of gowns for front-line medical staff.
Quartz Co. was founded in 1997 by entrepreneur Yves Trudeau under the name ‘Quartz Nature’. The company’s simplistic design and warm jackets targeted expedition teams, airline staff and the Canadian Police Corp. with one of its most popular styles, the Vostok, still being part of the collection today. In 2015 Mr. Trudeau retired and sold Quartz to brothers Jean-Philippe, Guillaume and François-Xavier Robert who are taking the business to the next level. In 2016 the company innovated by creating an exclusive line of parkas insulated with Milkweed which is said to be breathable, warm, ultra-light, ecological, hypoallergenic and antibacterial. It also contributes to the survival of the monarch butterfly. New lines continue to be developed and are manufactured in two factories in Victoriaville and Montréal as well as at the design studio within the new Mile End storefront.
In terms of future retail spaces, Jean-Philippe Robert said that Quartz Co. could open “a couple more doors in the next year” either in Canada or even globally. The company will test out the Montreal space first and since its recent opening, customers are already visiting and shopping.