As we celebrate Interbrand Canada’s 15th anniversary, it’s a great time to highlight some of the great brands we have been able to export as a country. Canadian retailers are making waves south of the border with the rapid expansion of Lululemon, Joe Fresh and Aritzia. The secret behind their growing success lies in each brand’s unique approach.
Lululemon, the original yoga apparel brand, has grown way past its namesake yoga pants. Lulu has managed to bridge the gap between workout-wear and street-wear, creating a new weekend (and weekday) uniform for die-hard enthusiasts to enjoy. Lululemon has been formally invited to the Sunday brunch table, without questioning if there is a yoga class to follow, and has spread far beyond its Vancouver origins to Singapore, Sydney and beyond.
Joe Fresh is taking founder Joe Mimran’s “classic style with a twist” ethos worldwide, as it’s now expanding beyond North America. “Joe” introduced its own spin on traditional fast fashion (think H&M and Zara) by adding a new level of convenience and accessibility to the proposition: affordable fashion modeled by the likes of Karlie Kloss and Joan Smalls, located right inside your neighborhood grocery store.
Gone are the days of lackluster visits to the supermarket for Canadians—now there is a reason to get excited about picking up that fresh loaf of bread or jug of milk—while Americans may have discovered the brand at JCPenney and in standalone stores in New York. The constantly changing Joe Fresh product mix ensures there is always something new for customers to discover in-store, while reaping the benefits of a repeat—and captive—customer base.
Aritzia’s secret to success is its unique curate-and-manufacture business model. Each boutique offers a selection of well-known brands combined with unique in-house brands, which can’t be found anywhere else. Established brands such as J Brand and Citizens of Humanity effectively draw customers into the store, while the exclusive brands act as a true differentiator in the eyes of the consumer. The success of in-house brands such as Wilfred have become so popular that Aritzia has started to create dedicated standalone stores in Canada and the US, including a flagship store on New York’s famed Fifth Avenue.
Through each brand’s innovative approach to retail, whether it’s creating a new retail segment of fashion-forward workout wear, bringing fast fashion to the grocery store, or leveraging the success of external brands to build an in-house portfolio, it will be interesting to see what these Canadian retailers come up with next and what other innovative Canadian brands will follow in their footsteps.