Roden Gray, a luxury men’s designer store in Vancouver, is expanding to its second store in early September and will be celebrating its 15th year in November.
The expansion was supposed to happen in 2020, but Covid changed the original plan.
“We were planning on doing the expansion previously before Covid, it was planned for 2020. At the time there was another location that we were thinking of, but when the pandemic hit it altered our thinking,” says Jacky Huang, the Creative Director at Roden Gray. “But now, an opportunity opened up with Richmond Centre and it just worked out, so we agreed on a deal to expand at that location.”
The new store will be featuring similar brands as its first location at 8 Water Street while also expanding to include unisex and lifestyle options.
“It’s a mixture of what we currently offer along with exclusive brands that will only be offered at the second location. So, some designer level goods, some contemporary brands, along with eyewear, apothecary, and home goods. But we are going to be more diverse and accommodating to our clients, rather than a menswear specific store, which is what Roden Gray is now.”
Roden Gray was first established in 2007, now almost 15 years later, it has continued to expand its brand names. Huang said in 2017, its brand list was around 38, now Roden Gray is carrying over 50 brands. Customers can find a variety of products, including clothing, outerwear, footwear, apothecary, home goods, and accessories. Huang said the category variety is something that makes them stand out from other designer shops as the store carries “designer level products, contemporary products, and then lifestyle to home goods.”
“Being the bridge between designers and customers”
Selling clothing is not the only priority at Roden Gray as it focuses also on educating and making customers feel comfortable in a luxury environment.
“Our job is to really become the bridge between the customer and the brands, presenting the designer’s point of view to our local clientele. We educate the customer based off product knowledge sessions that we schedule with brands, so consumers can understand why these brands exist and why they are at a certain price point. Our main job is to really do that. Not only speak for the designer, but also allow customers to understand the difference between a $300 shirt and a $50 shirt. And where that difference is in terms of quality and fabrication.”
Roden Gray’s main demographic ranges from ages 25-34 years old, and Huang said they want to make every customer understand more about what they are buying and more about the background of the product, such as the fabric and the designer.
“There are still guys like me, who appreciates fashion and design and want to learn more but find it intimidating, and that is something that should be challenged. At the end of the day, clothes are just clothes. But, if customers come in and feel comfortable around the environment then they can understand, touch and feel the designer products, and learn –then I feel like we have done our job.”
In addition to opening its new store, Roden Gray will also be revamping its website with Post Projects and will be available at the same time the new store will be opening.
During Covid, Roden Gray was forced to close its main store and before the global pandemic, 80 percent of its customers shopped in-store and 20 percent shopped online.
“So, the biggest fear right away was how to sustain. But in 2018, when the switch of ownership [from Rob Lo to Alvin Chen] happened one of the first things we did was to invest in our online marketing and creative team. And luckily, we saw the results of that and got a lot more support from our local and long-term international followers.”
Huang said its online store increased by 200 percent and these numbers are growing: “right now, I think we are about 65 percent North America, 20 percent Asia with Japan being the highest level of traffic for online, and then about 15 percent elsewhere.”
The new store will also be featuring new designers and will include pop up brands to cycle in new creative looks to the store. Customers can expect the store to open in September.
“For Roden Gray, the designers that we carry are unique and special. We try to highlight as much as we can in interviews and campaigns with designers to allow our customers to understand a bit more about what they’re buying and to appreciate the brands. There is nothing like this experience, consumers will get a whole new level of experience within the traditional mall setting.”