Throughout the course of the past 16 months or so – a time that is already being referred to as the ‘pandemic period’ – a myriad of tales of both triumph and disaster have unfolded within the Canadian retail industry. The landscape is filled with them, stories of heartache and closing sales, and of innovative thinking, shifts and pivots that ensured survival during these times of challenge. And then there are the rare examples of brands that have not only survived the impacts of the pandemic, but are coming out of it, on the other side, stronger and positioned better than ever for continued growth. One of those brands is Montreal-based luxury outerwear retailer Mackage. And, underscoring its intention to further expand its reach and presence is the company’s unveiling of New York City fashion veteran Tanya Golesic as Chief Executive Officer.
Impressive portfolio of experience
Golesic, who most recently served as President of the Americas for Jimmy Choo, joins the Mackage team during a time of real excitement and anticipation for the brand and will be looked at to lead the Montreal retailer to further success and international growth. Also serving as the Global Chief Commercial Officer at Canada Goose and holding previous leadership roles at Marc Jacobs International (LVMH), The Jones Group and Ralph Lauren, Golesic brings with her more than 20 years of global high fashion experience and a results-driven approach that Mackage’s Executive Chairman Patrick Elfassy hopes will “accelerate the brand’s current trajectory”. It’s a vast resume of experience and successes that elevate Golesic above many of her peers. However, when it comes to achieving at the highest level in retail, she says that there is no greater contributor than the team.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked for some of the very best luxury brands in the world,” she says. “These opportunities have provided me with a significant amount of experience when it comes to understanding luxury brands, how they work and how they flourish. More importantly, however, is my commitment and ability to assemble the right team, bringing together people who work and collaborate well with one another toward incredible results. Mackage is obviously known for specializing in luxury outerwear, and with good reason. But, as the brand and our customers’ lifestyles evolve, we’ll continue to develop and introduce product extensions as we move forward. The team will be instrumental in allowing the brand to continue innovating and expand the world of Mackage, creating that aspirational context for our product.”
Founded by Eran Elfassy in 1999, Mackage operates 25 physical stores throughout Canada and the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Japan, and is sold in over 40 countries around the world. It boasts an impressive selection of luxury outerwear for men, women and kids, as well as accessories including hats, scarves, gloves and handbags. In addition, the brand also operates a best-in-class ecommerce site, which allowed it to absorb the sharp shift in consumer behaviour toward online shopping and purchasing that was brought about by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and social restrictions. It’s a change in consumer preferences that Golesic recognizes as one of the most dramatic impacts of COVID-19 on the retail industry, adding that, as we approach a post-pandemic world, the emphasis for Mackage is going to be firmly on nurturing the sense of community that surrounds the brand and providing exceptional experiences, despite the channel that consumers engage with it on.
“One of the biggest influences of the pandemic was the acceleration of consumer behaviour toward online purchases,” she says. “Pre-COVID, many consumers were still hesitant to shop online. But, the circumstances of the past year-and-a-half have removed a lot of the traditional barriers to ecommerce. This shift presents huge opportunities for all brands because of the ease with which people are now shopping online. What it represents for Mackage is an opportunity to create aspirational digital experiences for the consumer who is much savvier now than they were prior to the pandemic. Today’s consumer is very much channel agnostic and will find what they’re looking for, leveraging the means that are at their disposal. As we move toward a post-pandemic world, the consumers’ omnichannel behaviour allows us to really focus on creating community and connection with our customers, wherever they are. We want people to get excited about visiting the brand’s physical spaces as well as engaging with us through digital channels.”
Creativity and innovation
Golesic goes on to explain that, in her estimation, there will be a return of footfall to physical stores as soon as people feel comfortable getting out again, and that many will act upon pent-up excitement to once more experience life. It’s an opinion that’s shared by quite a few of her peers as well as some watchers within the industry. And, if there’s any truth at all to the notion, then the opportunities available to retailers in every category to grow market share through differentiation are immense. Standing Mackage apart from its competitors, says the company’s CEO, is the continuous creativity and innovation with which the brand approaches its ever-evolving offering.
“We have some really incredible innovation around high warmth and ultra lightweight outerwear that we’re working on,” she says. “In order to cater to our customers, despite the climate and where they live, we’re experimenting with some really interesting, new types of fabrics. We’re also continuing our commitment to sustainability, leveraging sustainable materials and 100 percent recycled materials that will be launching within the next 6 months. We’re really excited to be including these new fabrics in some of our garments. And, we’re also going to continue launching new product categories and expanding our footwear capsule which we introduced last year. Everything that we do is done with the Mackage consumer in mind. We’re really excited to be extending our offering to them and continuing to look at ways we can further improve on it.”
Continued growth and expansion
It’s that commitment to continuously improve on excellence and enhance the customer experience that drives Mackage forward, says Golesic, adding that the company’s superior craftsmanship and creativity is the DNA that allows it to authentically hone its global luxury positioning and build on the incredible aspirational narrative that it’s developed through the years. It also allows the brand to continue carving out its own unique space within an incredibly competitive market and adding to its scores of loyal customers. And, according to Golesic, that’s exactly what the brand has planned for the months and years ahead.
“At Mackage, we want to take our customers on a journey with us and to bring back the sense of discovery, escape and excitement that is such a significant component of retail. It’s been a very challenging past 16 months that we’ve all endured. And we believe that its time to dream again and time to tap into and enjoy everything that makes retail great. We’re really looking forward to the opportunities that are ahead of us with respect to delivering these experiences to our customers and to continue expanding the brand and introducing it to key international markets. It’s an exciting time to be a part of Mackage, and we’re all really looking forward to further growth throughout the months ahead.”