Montreal-Based Lolë Planning Store Expansion Following Brand Acquisition [Interview]

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Montreal-based Lolë, a global apparel brand producing elevated athleisure, active and outerwear designed to last, plans to open three additional stores in Canada this year after recently acquiring San Francisco-based époque évolution, an upscale, female-founded collection of ethically crafted, high fashion and function everyday essentials for women. 

CEO Todd Steele said the retailer plans to grow the époque évolution brand as well. 

Todd Steele

“We’re thrilled to welcome époque évolution and its founder, Nancy Taylor, to the Lolë family,” said Steele. “She brings decades of design experience, along with extensive knowledge and innovation in sustainable fashion, and we look forward to seeing how both brands evolve in this exciting new chapter.” 

Taylor will maintain her current role at époque évolution while also stepping into the role of Head of Design and Creative Director for Lolë.

Steele said époque évolution was started in 2018.

Lolë at Toronto Pearson Airport – Terminal 1

“We’re interested in the brand for a few reasons. The first is just Nancy as a talent. She’s got a tremendous amount of experience in we’ll call athleisure, active lifestyle apparel, and we thought she could do even more for us and for our business. We brought her in house and had her work across our brands,” said Steele.

“The brands Lolë and époque both share similar values around sustainability, around fair trade, around making product the right way for both our customers and the world at large. So that was really important to her and to us.

“Finally and most importantly, we think that she really identified a white space that maybe’s not the focal point of most of our competition, which is taking these active fabrics and applying them to silhouettes that are maybe a little more sophisticated and appropriate for the office, for travel, at slightly higher price points. We do see as people return to the office and as people emerge from this post COVID world the need to want to dress up but want to still carry with them the comfort and versatility that comes with some of these fabric choices.”

Image: Lole
Lolë and époque évolution Logo (CNW Group/Lolë Brands)

Steele said époque does not have any retail stores. It is a 100 per cent direct to consumer business over the web.

“We’ll look to probably add some of their product in the short term to our retail stores but over time we’d like to begin to test brick and mortar retail for them as well. They also have no wholesale business but we do think there’s plenty of retailers, premium retailers, out there that would be appropriate for the brand,” added Steele.

Lolë, which began in 2002, currently has 10 locations  – four corporate owned stores (two in the U.S. and two in Canada) and six partner stores in Canada. 

“We’ve got plans to open up three new Canadian stores this year,” he said. “One in the Montreal area and two in Toronto.

“We had pre-COVID somewhere around 40 stores globally and obviously as we restructured the business we closed many of those stores. I think we’d like to do three to five stores a year. I think it will continue to be reasonable growth. But yes we absolutely believe in the brick and mortar retail experience.”

It also has a fairly substantial wholesale business where its products can be found in such retail locations as The Bay, the Forzani Group of retailers, SAIL, Sporting Life, Nordstrom. Lolë clothing can be found at more than 1,500 retail outlets around the world.

Image: epoqueevolution.com

After holding senior design positions at Athleta and Gaiam before starting époque évolution in 2018, Taylor witnessed a real need for change in the way things were done in fast fashion. 

“It’s all about choices: better materials, better production partners. We’ve proven that you can be fashionable in a way that functions in your real life, and maintains environmentally sound values,” said Taylor. “This is an incredible opportunity to grow the brand with the help of Lolë’s amazing team, operations and distribution network.”

Lolë was created in 2002 by Evelyn Trempe when she spotted a gap in women’s technical outerwear. She noticed that the selection of women’s travel and outerwear was bland and lacked style. So she set off on a mission to create an inspiring collection for women who want to get out there and live out loud every day, says the company on its website.

“Fast-forward to today, Lolë has evolved into a global brand with a mission to inspire mindfulness. From smart consumption to unique experiences, we create to make you feel good, day and night, at work or play, year after year.”

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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