Style:  the changing retail face of Vancouver

VANCOUVER is uping it’s retail game and may even come to surpass Toronto and Montreal as a premiere Canadian shopping destination. Whaaat??

Bowtie by Douglas Coupland
Bow Tie by Douglas Coupland fills the 2-storey atrium at Simons, West Vancouver.


I thought this day would never come because when I first moved here from Montreal in the 80’s my first impression of the Vancouver fashion scene was..well… uggggh!  I had never seen so much fleece before and vowed to never wear it but it wasn’t before too long that I too, was wearing fleece (but sparingly – it is comfy and warm to be exact).  Excuse: the damp weather goes right through you here.  Then I tried my best to embrace Gore-tex.  I can tell you that no matter how hard you try to dress up a Gore-tex jacket (even with a cute scarf) you still end up looking like you’re going fishing. But it’s the only thing that will really keep you dry in pouring rain.  That, and a good pair of Gore-tex boots – so at least you look like you’re going on a hike.  Most people do hike in Vancouver so that’s okay.  Still; coming from Montreal at that time it was quite a shocker.

Ceiling at Simons
Ceiling at Simons
Simons Home
Simons Maison
Simons Home
Simons Maison

But that was then. The scene is definitely changing and has changed significantly (for the better) since I moved here.  Aside from all the independent little boutiques situated all over this city (with an emphasis on Main St. & in Gastown), we have recently acquired two brand new department stores with the upscale U.S. chain Nordstrom downtown and another called Simons in West Vancouver.  Simons is a much smaller operation owned by a Quebec City family that has been around for more than 175 years.  It is their second location outside of Quebec, after Edmonton.  While Nordstrom is definitely the more swanky of the two, Simons (located at Park Royal South) can boast local artwork and some artful lighting.  The showstopper is a piece by Douglas Coupland that hangs above the atrium in the shape of a bow tie.  Both department stores have in store restaurants and a few fashion lines new to this city.

A Canadiana Apron at Simons
Cute Lumberjack Apron.  Simons
Keep it warm Simons 

My preference of the two is still Nordstrom but I liked the sculpture and some of the displays at Simons. Overall I have to admit that it felt a little like H&M meets Home Sense.  

Now if Montreal’s Ogilvy department store ever comes to town – that will be my #1 shopping destination! But there is only one – which makes it more special and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.


Which department store in Vancouver

is your favourite?

In general I prefer shopping the independant retail stores over the larger chains.

Photos: d. king

Ogilvy Montreal
Ogilvy Montreal – they do a really nice holiday window
Ogilvy Montreal Sophistication
Ogilvy Montreal Sophistication





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