The Quebec brand Kanuk opens its first store outside Quebec and has chosen New York to embark on its new conquest. “All roads lead to New York,” says Richard Laniel, president of Kanuk, whom we met in his offices on Rachel Street.
“This is a natural step for us, because New York is a benchmark, it is an international showcase. All the buyers of all the brands in the world are in New York. It’s a ‘statement’ to be there. The opportunity is good. A very nice place has become available on Greene, in the heart of SoHo. You have to believe in it, and you believe in it, ”he explains, very enthusiastic.
He also points out that since the news was announced, shoppers are calling from Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom to have Kanuk coats in their stores.
The store opening is scheduled for the beginning of November.
The 4000 square foot space is designed by the Montreal architectural firm Atelier Barda and will focus on a “sensory experience that evokes an urban utopia emblematic of Montreal’s winter climate”.
“We go to New York with the idea of giving a special experience. We created a very refined, very modern environment, where coats are king and masters in the store. Customers will enter a large clean room, with lighting designed to highlight the coats, ”explains Richard Laniel.
And what is the perception of Kanuk for Americans? “We are seen as a Nordic brand, which has unparalleled expertise. The parka, the Canadian coat, has become very popular abroad thanks in particular to a certain brand that I will not name [Canada Goose], which is our competitor, but which has opened up the international market for Canadian coats, ”he explains.
Canadian down is also considered the best in the world, says Richard Laniel. “There may be in Siberia where there are equivalents, but our down in Canada is extremely efficient. ”
Remember that Kanuk celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020, and that its heritage is a real asset internationally. “Fifty years is the minimum to consider yourself a luxury brand. We have developed know-how, and this is a guarantee of quality. It’s important to us, we have a history, a heritage, and we can see that Americans are impressed by our history. This is what gives us credibility. ”
Over the past few years, Richard Laniel has observed that a fair amount of coats have been purchased by New England customers through the Kanuk website. The time had come to open a store in the United States, he says.
“We go to New York to sell to New Yorkers, but also to present the brand internationally. It is an exercise in retail and marketing. ”
New collection and abandonment of fur
Kanuk has also just launched a collection of Kanuk + 0 transitional coats, in which we offer less warm models, for the half-seasons. “The planet is changing, it’s hotter, but we’re also changing the way we make products; 50% of the collections are now made with recycled materials and we have made a commitment by 2025 to be carbon neutral. ”
Another novelty, Kanuk’s coats will give up fur. “There is no fur at all this year, on no new coats, it’s over. There is a little synthetic fur left, it’s a transition. But eventually, there won’t be any more. Richard Laniel specifies that this is a generational shift. “A lot of times the older ones still want fur, while for millennials it shouldn’t be there. ”
Our philosophy is modernized classic models. Our clientele is varied, ranging from baby boomers to millennials.
Richard Laniel, President of Kanuk
For five years, everything has gone very quickly for Kanuk. The brand has rejuvenated its image. Both the website and the Rachel Street boutique have been completely redesigned, and the style of the coats has been modernized. Annie Horth acts as Creative Director and Michel Lepage, as Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising, oversees product and branding.
“The work is colossal, the website has become transactional. We just finished the second improvement of the Rachel Street store, which is closer to what we will have in New York. ”
The opening of the store in New York is a first step towards a global presence. “It would be good to have a few stores in large cities internationally and thus have a showcase in strategic cities,” concludes Richard Laniel.