Family-owned, Canadian fashion retailer Simons has opened their first BC location at Park Royal. With a 175-year history, and a rich assortment of merchandise, Vancouverites are very excited to welcome Simons to the city.
We spoke with Angela Stinson, Director of Store Development to learn more about the Quebec based brand.
Tell us about the Simons’ brand
Simons is a family-owned Canadian fashion retailer with a 175-year history. Brothers Peter and Richard Simons lead the company, which was founded in 1840 by their great grandfather John Simons in Quebec City. Simons currently has a network of eleven stores in Canada, including nine in Quebec, one at West Edmonton Mall, and now one at Park Royal in Vancouver.What sets Simons apart from other department stores?
Simons offers a unique product assortment in its stores – unlike any other retailer in Canada. The assortment is largely made up of Simons’ private label collections, complimented by a selection of national brands and an edited group of international designers. The mix demonstrates Simons’ passion for fashion while offering an accessible and democratic shopping experience.
Each Simons store is thoughtfully designed with the community in mind resulting in compelling, original environments that inspire customers through fashion, art and architecture. No two stores are alike.What made Park Royal the perfect choice for the first BC location for Simons?
There was a real connection between the shopping centre and Simons, both family owned and operated enterprises. Mansoor Lalji and Peter Simons connected through their individual stories of how they came to be in their respective businesses and what it means to be part of something built through family values.
Tell us about the new store design.
The two-storey, 100,000 square foot location sits prominently in the redeveloped area of Park Royal South.
The exterior of the building, created by architect firm Lemay Michaud, is inspired by the heritage of the Squamish nation, specifically Salish weaving. A traditional repeating chevron pattern appears on off-white concrete panels that are stacked like blankets – some vertical, some horizontal – to create the façade.
In terms of the store itself, Designstead, the retail design firm behind Simons’ Park Royal store, artfully knit together a series of intimate boutiques to create one holistic shopping experience that is approachable, accessible, style savvy and filled with clever design details. What are some of the key design features our readers should look out for?
Leading the exciting design elements at the new Park Royal location are three impressive art installations: Kayachtun, meaning welcome, is a sandblasted granite relief on the exterior south entrance of the store by Coast Salish artist Jody Broomfield, at the core of women’s apparel is Bobbie Burgers’ ceramic wall sculpture, Innocence Disobedience, representing feminine rebellion, and Douglas Coupland’s Bow Tie sculpture fills the store’s two-storey central atrium. The Vancouver fitting rooms are also our best yet. They house a collection of amazing wallpapers and art pieces. Each department is designed for the unique shopper it serves.
We love the Douglas Coupland bow tie sculpture. Tell us about the collaboration for this feature
As we began store planning, we identified the volume around the central escalators as being a great space for a large scale art installation. We recognised the importance of tapping into local Vancouver artists and connected with Douglas through a Vancouver art consultant. Douglas’ show, Everywhere is Anywhere is Anything is Everything, was on at the Vancouver Art Gallery and we met with him there to discuss whether he would be interested in a project at Park Royal.
Douglas grew up in West Vancouver (and lives there today) and so we were thrilled when he showed interest in the project. It’s his first piece in West Vancouver and its part of a larger body of work – this time around, displaying ingenuity through engineering: two 20’ cones, touching at an almost imperceptible point, are suspended by only two cables. It floats within the 2-storey space beautifully, creating a strong centre point in the store. Everyone who walks through our doors has an opportunity to enjoy it.
What are some of the brands you’re most excited to carry at Simons?
Simons carries a unique assortment of international brands. Among some of my personal favourites are Cedric Charlier, See by Chloe and 3.1 Philip Lim. I’m always excited to see what’s new with our private label brands too. Icône and Contemporaine are my go-to’s.Simons’ also has a beautiful 50-seat café, Ève. Tell us about the concept of having an in store restaurant.
The vision for the café came through visits to department stores in Europe. There was this idea of really creating an entire day out within these stores, the food offering often being highly themed in its delivery. We recognized that there was an opportunity to express the Simons brand, through a focus on French-Canadian inspired food, while also creating another level of service for our customers.
It provides a pause point within the shopping experience and tells the story of the Simons family values, in this case through Eva Simons, whom the café was named after. Grandmother of Peter and Richard Simons, Eva was a generous and intelligent woman who gave her family so much from both her kitchen and her heart. The concept for the café is based on fresh, affordable food, served in an accessible and beautiful environment and is a true extension of the Simons family.
For more information on Simons, visit simons.ca
Photos by Evaan