Aritzia joins fashion's big leagues -

Aritzia joins fashion’s big leagues

The Canadian retailer takes the ultimate test: a flagship store in the heart of New York City

The fashion big leagues

Courtesy of Aritzia

It’s been three years since Vancouver’s Aritzia LP took its repertoire of feminine, fashion-forward wares south, but next week’s opening of its flagship store in New York marks the boutique’s official coming out to the U.S. market. The successful execution of the clothing retailer’s 50th location is crucial, given its plans for a wider expansion in the U.S. Hot on the heels of the June 15 opening is another store launch in August in neighbouring New Jersey.

The two-storey New York store’s prominent corner location at Broadway and Spring Street in fashion haven SoHo has Aritzia rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry, from J.Crew to Prada. It’s a move that puts the firm in a better position to attract attention from prospective landlords, fashion media and tastemakers, says retail analyst and DIG360 Consulting principal David Ian Gray. “There are lots of retailers seeking prime spots in prime locations, and because Aritzia is coming in as an unknown entity, they’re having to fight that fight much like they did when they started out in Canada.”

But the company has little reason to be intimidated: Aritzia boasts some of the highest average sales per square foot amongst retailers in North America. And while it doesn’t reveal specific sales numbers, the private company earns somewhere between $200 million to $300 million each year, says Aritzia’s vice-president of marketing Sally Parrott.

Its numbers are similar to those of fellow Vancouver-grown retail success story Lululemon, Gray says. But while the yoga-wear giant offers a distinct product, many of the styles and brands Aritzia offers can be found elsewhere. Its secret? Aritzia, established in 1984, has carved itself out a niche by maintaining a higher price point without moving into the luxury brand category, and resisting the urge to use lower-quality materials like other retailers that target young, style-conscious women have done. “They’re not racing with everyone else to offer cheaper and cheaper product,” Gray says. “They keep their price up where it has a little bit of cachet.”