Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Aritzia: the Canadian fashion store you really should know about

Aritzia Wilfred Satin Back Crepe Drapey Blazer
Wilfred Satin Back Crepe Drapey Tux Jacket $225 USD

This is the jacket I have been thinking about for the last month. It's a deconstructed black satin- backed crepe tux, which hangs beautifully, with just enough slouch and insouciance. It would be perfect over black cigarette pants, sleeves pushed up, with some good jewellery, spindly heels and a cloud of scent. I really need this in my wardrobe tout suite.

It's by a label called Wilfred, which is exclusively available at Aritzia and, like the rest of pieces in the line, it's well cut, thoughtful and brilliantly priced.

Aritzia? I hear you say. Yup, hadn't a clue either until I walked into their latest store in Short Hills, New Jersey and immediately started fantasy shopping. I can't remember the last time I actually found more than one piece I wanted to buy under one roof.

The Aritzia mothership is based in Vancouver, with a slew of stores across Canada, and a slow creep of openings down the US West Coast (Seattle, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Portland). There's one in Chicago and the above mentioned Short Hills, but nothing in New York as yet.

I hadn't realised it was a chain when I first visited: each boutique is fitted out independently, with a background soundtrack of electronica & indie tunes, often mixed by in-house DJs. The staff are shockingly helpful: not pushy but proffering sensible advice, and the buy is a really clever mix of jeans labels and various bridge & diffusion lines along with their six in-house labels. I spotted Acne, Cheap Monday, Current/Elliott, James Perse, Vena Cava, Loomstate, Marc by Marc, Athé Vanessa Bruno & Earnest Sewn amongst others, and there are books, magazines and notebooks for sale alongside the clothes & accessories.

It's not obvious that the in-house labels are just that: they are mixed through the store, each with a particular angle. I particularly liked the above-mentioned Wilfred, which is fashion-forward and stylish, and Talula Babaton which is more sophisticated: I picked out a great tie waist crepe de chine dress.

So if you fancy the jacket above, the bad news is that it's almost sold out in both the U.S. and in Canada. However, the good news is that they’re expecting a large shipment to hit stores mid-October. Interested customers who don’t want to miss it can also Special Order it from their local boutique.