5 Things I Learnt About Holt Renfrew Last Week

Holt Renfrew, Tom Ford, luxury retailing, Lucy in Disguise, celebrity fashion, Jason Matlo

A spread from Holt Renfrew's Autumn Winter 2011 catalogue.

Earlier this week I attended Holt Renfrew‘s fall preview, with their Vice President of Fashion Direction, Barbara Atkin. I love hearing Barbara speak, she does a great job of communicating the season’s key styles by putting them into context with current trends and mindsets. This presentation taught me a few very interesting things, beyond the usual silhouettes, fabrics, and colours we can expect to see in store for fall, so I thought I’d share them.

1. Vancouver is Holt Renfrew’s number one store. Number one! That was a shocker, I would have expected Toronto or Montreal to top their list. The reason why? She cited tourists and new Chinese money, plus their long time customers. I guess there is a lot of money in this town… “One salesperson in Vancouver smashed all the retailer’s records by generating $4-million in business last year.” (Globe and Mail)

2. Holt Renfrew is now translating their catalogue in Mandarin. I guess that’s why Vancouver is the number one store…there are a lot of rich Chinese in this town.

Holt Renfrew, Tom Ford, luxury retailing, Lucy in Disguise, celebrity fashion, Jason Matlo

3. They are opening a Tom Ford boutique. That is exciting! When I asked about the price point, Atkin responded “unaffordable” so I guess I’ll only be browsing. But I can’t wait to see the furs!

4. They are carrying lots of lame celebrity collections, including Lucy in Disguise. This was particularly upsetting, since Lily Allen’s collection is incredibly tacky and ugly. I wish Holt Renfrew would invest a little less in celebrity fashion, and more into local talent. I can’t believe they aren’t selling Jason Matlo one of Vancouver’s most established designers, but they are selling House of Harlow 1960. Ugh.

Holt Renfrew, Tom Ford, luxury retailing, Lucy in Disguise, celebrity fashion, Jason Matlo

Lily Allen and friends wearing the very cheap-looking, tacky, Lucy in Disguise.

5. Holt Renfrew is pulling back on promotions. They are trying to encourage poeple pay for products at full price, rather than waiting for sale, by encouraging a sense of urgency to buy. The “buy it now” concept is meant to make customers feel that if they don’t buy something right away, it will sell out. So if you are hoping that special item is going to go on sale… keep in mind you might miss out.

There were some really beautiful pieces in the fall preview (my favourite was a Donna Karan cashmere, self-lined, draped coat) so here’s hoping the Vancouver store will get more of the gorgeous luxury goods and less of the tacky celebrity crap.

Lily Allen photo source.

This entry was posted in Canadian Style, Celebrities, Fashion Lists and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Jasper

    tom ford = unaffordable hahaha. the world of fashion is so wicked, literally!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=823115573 Erin Harder

    This is interesting…and depressing to know that I will never be deemed as worthy at Vancouver’s Holt store because I’m not Chinese (this is an ongoing problem for me.) Also, HOLY CRAP! Those dresses by Lily Allen are disgusting.

  • Anonymous

    Hold on… Holts is super nice to everyone, even if you aren’t Chinese (and was I implying that the Chinese get preferential treatment at Holts? Becasue I didn’t mean to…) Their customer service is phenomenal, no matter who you are.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, those Lucy in Disguise dresses really are awful!  They’ve actually managed to make the dresses look flammable and smelly, like the very worst vintage!  Quite the feat.  I had no idea the sisters were ‘designing’ now, I’m obviously out of the loop.   

    (I buy barely any fashion mags these days; the relentlessly celeb-headed, over-PhotoShopped covers annoy me, and the 400-word articles are just insulting)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=823115573 Erin Harder

    Oh…then maybe it’s just me? I wish I could say the same about the service; you didn’t imply that Chinese get preferential treatment, I just always feel like they do whenever I’m there and want some help. Particularly the shoe salespeople have always irked me because they talk to me very patronizingly. Now I’m whining. I’ll stop there.

  • Anonymous

    Well I have never had a problem there, but I’m not exactly in there every week. There’s nothing worse than a patronizing salesperson…

  • fashionableinvcr

    have tried to shop at Holt’s especially when I was given a gift card but it’s next to impossible.  I stood in the shoe dept & watched the Asian buyers looking at and trying on the shoes that had been bought with them, not me in mind.  I like some of the lines they carry, but not the way they buy them!  As in real estate here, local Buyers are being ignored in favour of the Asian money.

  • Anonymous

    I am not sure the buy is necessarily just for Asians (although it will be to some extent), I just think the buy is quite conservative and safe, because everyone here plays it safe.

    Don’t get me started on the property, it is absolutely ridiculous that non-residents are allowed to buy property without paying extra taxes. My old neighbourhood is now 40% Chinese, which is fine if they actually lived here and were part of a community and spent money in local businesses, but most houses stand empty. It is turning into a ghost town. But Vancouver is not unique, the same thing happens everywhere. Trashy Brits buy up all the houses in the south of Spain, making it unaffordable for the Spaniards, but they only use them as holiday homes. The same thing is happening in my husband’s neighbouhood in Sweden, which is full of Danes. It sucks, but politicians do nothing about it.

  • Devonbrittain

    Holt Renfrew already has a Tom Ford boutique. 

  • Anonymous

    A mens one, they are opening a womens one this season.
    Alexandra Suhner Isenberg

  • Smithinvcr

    actually I was thinking the opposite-everything is shiny with lots of bling-I hate bling!  Many Asian Buyers are new money so it has to have that look.  I was the only non-Asian in the shoe dept and it was packed full of people.  Other high end stores in Vancouver buy with Asian clients in mind but also look after the rest of us.