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Online Women’s Outdoor Clothing Brand ‘Alder Apparel’ Opens 1st Physical Storefront on Toronto’s Queen St. West [Interview/Photos]

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Alder Apparel, a women’s outdoor apparel store, has opened its first pop-up store on Queen Street in Toronto. 

Starting in 2019, the owners Naomi Blackman and Mikayla Wujec decided to open Alder to express women’s outdoor clothing – a category they think has been under-served until now. The pop-up shop is located at 489 Queen Street West, and before this Alder was only serving customers online. 

“We have always had a love for retail environment and really thought that there was a huge opportunity to create an Alder environment in real life,” says Wujec. “For us the concept is just to bring the spirt of Alder and the playfulness of the brand into a retail space that will allow our customers to really live and experience the brand in real life.” 

Products customers can find can include rain jackets, open air pants, shorts, hiking clothing, waterproof shorts, get dirty dress, shirts, and skorts. You can also find accessories such as hats, water bottles, and more.  

“Outdoor brands today promote this narrative of hyper performance, endurance, and intensity. We really felt like that is not how most women experience the outdoors. Most women come to the outdoors as a place to relax or recharge so we really wanted to create an outdoor brand that would focus on divorcing performance and outdoor recreation, so a brand that just focused on building a sense of belonging with the outdoors that focused on fun and the joy of it, that is what we wanted to do with Alder,” says Wujec. 

The new store allows customers to experience Alder’s products in real life and will be open until the end of August. 

Alder’s Inspiration 

Wujec and Blackman have known each other since they were early teens. With different careers, the two came back together to create Alder. Wujec studied environmental science and worked for National Geographic and Blackman was working with some of the biggest fashion companies in Canada such as Joe Fresh and Hudson’s Bay. She was also a brand and digital specialist. 

“I had a big frustration with what was available for outdoor apparel for women. I just thought everything was ugly and not designed for women’s bodies and didn’t really fit in with the rest of my wardrobe, so I brought the frustration over to Naomi,” says Wujec. 

From there they started designing clothing that would be suitable for all women, and all sizes. Customers can find clothing from sizes XS to 6X, which is the most inclusive size range in North America, as it is important to Alder that their customers feel safe and comfortable.  

Alder also provides a variety of products so its customers will be able to find clothing for any outdoor activity from hiking to just taking it easy. 

“Our idea was really to create a wardrobe for every type of outdoor activity that you could possibly need,” says Wujec. “Our most popular product would be open air pants, which are made from beach tree. They are light weight, breathable, and stretchy. We are starting to get some other popular products as well like the get dirty skort which is a short and skirt blended in lots of fun bright colours.” 

To include customers in its product and colour choices, the brand gets its customers to fill out feedback surveys. From this, Alder can find out what its customers would like to see in store in terms of products and colours. To allow more communication from customers, Alder has launched a new program called Alder Crew where customers can provide deeper feedback, be more included with new products, to test products, and can be a committee for Alder. 

Sustainable Fabrics 

Alder Apparel Pop-up (Image: Alder)

“For us when we think about fabric, we are thinking about the sustainability, and we want to create a long-lasting durable product. The best thing you can do for the planet is to just wear your clothes more, so we have a real eye for durability,” says Wujec. 

All the fabrics you see in Alder are also the lowest carbon option they could find. The brand uses a mix of recycled products, recycled nylon, and it uses natural fiber fabrics which are beautiful and biodegradable. 

What is Next for Alder?

Alder has a lot of exciting new products coming soon. One of them, a cargo inspired pant, will be released in the upcoming Fall.  

“We have a ton of stuff coming down the pipeline next year and we are really excited about a bunch of new products and new categories that we will be entering in 2023,” says Blackman. 

One new category, which was inspired by feedback surveys, will be swimwear. This new collection will be launching in Spring 2023. 

On top of new products, Alder is entering REI in the States next month, is looking to join Brick and Mortar retail environment, and their hope “is to continue to open pop ups across in some of the top markets in North America and potentially a permanent location in the next few years,” says Blackman. 

“The main thing we really want to get across is that the outdoors is really for everybody, and we have met a lot of women who don’t feel comfortable calling themselves outdoorsy. We just wanted to remind people that you belong in the outdoors, even if you just go outside for a walk with your dogs or your friends. The outdoors shouldn’t have any criteria to access them, so we really encourage people to go outside and have fun and to just enjoy the outdoors at whatever pace is best for them,” says Blackman. 

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Article Author

Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala, based in Toronto, is a new Journalist to Retail Insider. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

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