Flagship shops flock to vancouver Last month, a glittering gaggle of vics(Very important customers)Converged on the historic fairmont hotel vancouver to take in the renovation of the louis vuitton boutique there.After the unveiling and a cocktail reception, guests were ferried via chauffered suvs and railcar yes, railcar to a speakeasystyle party where the champagne continued to flow.As novel as this moveable fte was, however, it was the fact that the store had been remade into one of only 12 lv"Maisons"Worldwide that had many of the partygoers talking. "You don't have to go to new york to get that exclusive bag any more,"Heather white, one of the cupcake girls in the realitytv show http://www.on-now.com/louis-vuitton-womens/handbags.html of the same name, said of the maison, lv's version of a superstore. "It raises the bar in vancouver. " Until recently, vancouver was better known for its fondness for fleece than its cuttingedge style, so why has it become such a popular retail foothold, especially among luxury chains?While the glowing global exposure it received during the olympics last year certainly enhanced its lustre, analysts and the retailers themselves overwhelmingly point to the same two factors:The city's proximity to the evergrowing asian market(It is also the home of many wealthy migrs)And the availability of attractive(If dwindling)Retail sites in prime downtown locations. "Vancouver has become more sophisticated,"Said michael penalosa, managing principal of thomas consultants, a vancouver retail consulting firm. "The [far eastern]and now persian markets have become stronger and they have been bigger buyers of luxury brands. " Retailwise,"Vancouver is on a world scale,"Agreed philippe schaus, senior international vicepresident for louis vuitton.He had just arrived from paris for the recent maison opening. "It's a very important city for us because of its [connection]to asian customers. "Although the company, a cornerstone holding of the lvmh group, opened its first store in vancouver in 1996, its presence in recent Louis Vuitton Men years wasn't reflective of how the city was growing as a market, he added. "We were here, but we wanted to make a [bigger]statement and in a way that fit with the city. " Besides its significant asian ties, vancouver is also a good testing ground for retailers seeking to expand across the country, kenneth degraaf, who assumed ownership of agent provocateur's canadian franchise last year, said in his alberni street boutique.Despite being the nation's thirdlargest city,"Vancouver has enough critical mass that people look at it as a test market,"He explained. "It gives them a chance to expose themselves to the demographic diversity that you have across the country in some of the bigger metropolitan areas.And it's just big enough click here to see more info about Louis Vuitton to justify a standalone store. " The promise of a sophisticated clientele in a compact, easytomonitor marketplace is also why homegrown luxury retailers such as holt renfrew will often introduce new, sometimes edgier offerings(Especially men's wear from the likes of alexander mcqueen, balenciaga, gucci and burberry prorsum)In vancouver before toronto. "There is a healthy appetite for fashion in the vancouver marketplace,"Said lanita layton, vicepresident of men's wear and men's footwear at holt renfrew. "Mcqueen and balenciaga have now been added to additional stores based on success in vancouver. " Cementing the city's edge among retail decisionmakers is its positive perception abroad, a benefit vancouver enjoyed even before the olympics.The city"Is always positioned well in 'best place to live' and 'best place to visit' surveys,"Omega president stephen urquhart said click here to see more info about Louis Vuitton via email, confirming that its vancouver boutique will remain there permanently. "Europeans and asians visiting vancouver invariably comment that they feel at home there and that's particularly attractive for omega. " Of course, focusing too heavily on overseas clients can just as often backfire.The morning after the lv party, shopper brent stephenson, who was in the market for a topcoat, stopped by the store.Although a sales associate showed him an elegant cashmere model, she was unable to close the sale, as she didn't have it in his size. "It's limited,"Stephenson, who was over six feet tall and of stockier build, said of the lv wares on display and vancouver shopping in general. "They're catering to smaller asian men.I need to go to vegas to shop. " Another possible wrench in the city's works:The diminishing number of premium retail spaces. "Buildings need highprofile tenants on their ground floors, but there isn't a lot of new real estate,"Said retail consultant penalosa, who noted that a few impending lease renewals on robson street offer potential and the forthcoming georgia hotel and residences will probably be occupied by a bigname brand. "Other sites are removed from the cool shopping area, so there's not a lot of selection. " Such are the problems, though, that come with success.As the country's goto test market for style brands both foreign and domestic, vancouver finds itself in an enviable position.Even stephenson, the disappointed shopper, acknowledged the allure of being able to peruse the entire lv collection on home turf. "Yeah,"He said. "I'll go back. "
- Related Links: