Club Monaco moves to Ste-Catherine St.

Posted by:      December 11, 2014     / /

re-posted from Montreal Gazette

photos by Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

There’s a new Club Monaco in town, and it’s looking decidedly upscale.

by Eva Friede / Montreal Gazette

The fashion brand founded in Toronto in 1985 and now owned by Ralph Lauren has moved into a prime new location on Ste-Catherine St. W., the better to showcase its contemporary clothing in a store that mirrors the Fifth Ave. flagship in New York.

The 9,000-square-foot shop, in the Beaux Arts Dominion Square Building, has been given a luxe, lifestyle makeover, with a series of small rooms outfitted with white marble and oak floors, custom grilles, decorative columns and vintage Parisian furniture, all in a bright, light colour scheme — think Ralph Lauren light.

The store is decorated for the holidays by Marcel Proulx Horticulteur with 450 feet of garlands, potted Christmas trees and wreaths.

The shop stocks the men’s and women’s collections, but has added shoes, a selection of curated brands and its higher end “Collection” line, along with a 600-square-foot café on the lower level.

The popular Myriade Café, which has locations on Mackay St. and St-Viateur St., serves its signature Parallel brew, as well as baked goods from Hof Kelsten. Also on offer: books from Drawn & Quarterly and Quebec jams, jellies, honey and oils from Société-Orignal.

Club Monaco creative director Caroline Belhumeur, who has been with the chain for seven years, said she loves the building with its inner arcade and European flair. The trend to share retail space is about the lifestyle feeling, she said.

“You want a customer to come in and feel at home for other reasons than just shopping for clothes. We want them to have a richer experience than that,” she said.

Anthony Benda, owner of Café Myriade, said it’s easy to say yes to the shared space, as it gives him an opportunity to serve people in a part of Montreal he wouldn’t otherwise reach.

On the fashion front, it’s absolutely a strategy to up the fashion game, says Belhumeur, explaining that in recent years the chain has added pieces that are more expensive and more luxurious, to positive customer reaction.

Quality, longevity and the cool factor are the guiding principles, she says: “But I think it’s important to us that the price range is attainable to different types of customers.

“We like that mix of different prices in our stores.”

There are more than a handful of brand collaborations: bags and a parka from Montreal’s Mackage, sparkly Florentine jewelry from Rada, edgy pearl earrings on a safety pin by Wouters & Hendrix of Antwerp and Woolrich parkas.

Among the pickings in store: luxe ballet flats at $239, either studded or with grosgrain ribbons; tall suede boots at $595; a metallic molten holiday dress at $269; a feather-hemmed shift dress at $329, and a “Collection” calfskin coat at $1,995.

Even pricier and more special: vintage treasures locked in a central glass display case. There’s a Hermès Kelly at $11,600, a Chanel 2.55 at $3,200 among the luxury pickings.

Here today, gone tomorrow trends are not the goal at Club Monaco, although Belhumeur is totally on trend in picking warm, knitted items for this holiday season — for herself.

“We don’t see ourselves as an in-and-out-trend kind of store,” Belhumeur said. “The Zaras can do that sort of thing, chasing the catwalk.

”She used to shop Club Monaco in New York in the late 80s, when everything else was crazy, she recalled. “It was a really great place to go for the neutral, great pieces that you always hung on to.

“I still believe that is the essence of who we are today.”

Club Monaco, founded by Joe Mimran — now of Joe Fresh fame — sold the company to the Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1999. There are now 21 stores in Canada.

Club Monaco’s website remains blocked in Quebec because of French language regulations. A spokesperson said the e-commerce team is working to set a date for a Quebec site.

Meanwhile, the old Club Monaco store at Les Cours Mont-Royal remains open, on one storey only, with all merchandise discounted by 50 per cent.Club Monaco is at 1000 Ste-Catherine St. W.

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