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Saks in Canada

nordstrom clothing racksOne of the great experiences of my life was my first visit to the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City. The historic building, the gleaming showrooms on each floor filled with the most luxurious brands in the world, and the mind-blowing shoe department that has its own zip code… heaven.

So I was excited when Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) announced it was bringing Saks to Canada. And, I’m sure the flagship in Toronto is amazing, as are the stores in Vancouver and Montreal. I was looking forward to the full Saks experience, right here in Canada.

Unfortunately, the HBC leadership treats the rest of Canada with Saks stores just like it does with Hudson’s Bay stores. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have amazing Bay stores, and the rest of the country has significantly lesser versions.

Well, here’s a news flash: rolling out Saks stores with minimal merchandise, small footprints and insufficient staffing devalues the brand. If you’re going to open a Saks store, make it the full experience.

I was just in Calgary where Chinook Centre is home to the first Nordstrom store in Canada, and a recently opened full-line Saks. The difference between the stores is night and day. Nordstrom brought the full luxury experience to Calgary and the store is always humming with activity whenever I’ve been there. Conversely, the rather sad version of Saks was barren, dull and listless. So disappointing.

Why bother?

So, HBC, you might want to study what happened to Target when it brought less than the full Target experience to Canada.

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Who are fashion shows really for?

runway

The September fashion shows have come to an end. This is the time when designers showcase their new looks for Spring/Summer 2018. Well, most of them do. Some showed “see now, buy now” looks ready for immediate purchase.

As the fashion industry contemplates the future of fashion weeks, the shows, and the guests, I think the styling of looks has, in many cases, gone beyond aspirational and is now so “artsy” that as they appear, these looks are not wearable.

I have been a Burberry fan for years. I love the tailored looks, heritage and quality construction that the House produces. In an attempt to push the envelope this year, creative director Christopher Bailey took show attendees on a wild ride. In my opinion, too wild. It was difficult to think this is the same House who brings us the well-crafted, highly coveted trenches that have been the Burberry staple for years.

This September’s show was received with high praise from the fashion industry, however I wonder how many women really felt inspired to rush out and make purchases.

Burberry FW 2017

Burberry, September 2017

The looks had way too much going on to really see the offerings clearly. This look (left), for example, shows four different prints under a plastic raincoat. Firstly, I don’t know anyone who could pull off this look as is. Secondly, I’m sure each piece is exquisite, but so many things are piled together, it’s difficult to really appreciate any one piece. It’s a big jumble. A hot mess, really – the kind of look that would have landed the wearer on “What Not to Wear.”

Contrast this with the elegant Sonia Rykiel House, and their Spring/Summer 2018 show in Paris, just a few weeks after Burberry.

Sonia Rykiel SS 18 2

Sonia Rykiel, Spring 2018

This look also uses multiple patterns, but the styling is more refined and focused. This is a look that most women I know could pull off. It’s easy to see the top and skirt, and they look cohesive.

Not that anyone from these houses care what I think, but I’m hopeful that as the fashion industry considers the future of fashion weeks, they think about staying in touch with their customers.

I’m much more inspired to look to Sonia Rykiel than Burberry.

How about you?