What started out as merely a quaint Vancouver boutique hidden between a vast array of shopping stores transformed into an innovative design house across North America. Today we can see signature pieces dawning on the likes of contemporary fashion for women– from young adults to middle-aged. Aritzia claims the dynamic puffer coat for those bitter winter days as their own, along with neutral tones and sleek silhouettes. Now, with over 100 stores across the continent, a global eCommerce platform and an eagerness to expand, this vertically integrated, Everyday Luxury company has a story worth telling.
Aritzia History– How It Started
In 1984, Canadian entrepreneur Brian Hill opened the first-ever standalone Aritzia store as a boutique located within Oakridge Centre– a shopping mall in Vancouver, Canada. A location situated right within Hill’s hometown; he knew the brand was only getting started. Prior to the 1984 opening, third-generation retailer Hill just introduced Aritzia to his family’s 70-year-old department store. Realizing the store had potential to succeed on its own, Hill found his starting point within Oakridge Center. Declared founder and executive chair, Hill led the introduction of the eCommerce business at Aritzia, along with the beginning of expansion out of Vancouver. Hill was awarded the Henry Singer Award for Retail Excellence in 2013, Distinguished Retailer of the Year in 2012 and was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year® for the Pacific Region in 2008– all out of recognition for his persistent efforts as a professional retailer.
A few years later, style advisor Jennifer Wong joined the team in 1987 at the Robson Street location in Vancouver. Moving up the ranks, Wong became Chief Operating Officer in 2007– but she did not stop there. In 2015, Wong’s COO title expanded to COO and President of Aritzia. Now, Wong is the Chief Executive Officer of Aritzia. As operating CEO, Wong has executive oversight over different sectors of the company such as eCommerce, people & culture, finance, information technology, data & analytics, supply chain, diversity equity & inclusion and more.
Hill wanted a brand that would empower women while still bringing them comfort and style at attainable prices. (As the website says, “the idea was simple: offer beautiful clothes in aspirational spaces with exceptional service”). To do so, he realized that expansion was necessary to spread the style of Aritzia. With meticulous research of prime locations to spread the Aritzia brand, Hill worked diligently to expand. As of this year, there are 106 Aritzia stores across North America. 43 of the 106 stores are located within the United States and 63 are found in Canada.
Aritzia stands out for its exclusive collection of in-house brands– each offering a distinct style for the variety of clientele. There are six frequently displayed brands in-store and an additional seven others. The Babaton Atelier collection reads:
“Build your foundation, one piece at a time. Atelier-inspired design, luxe fabrics and precise tailoring. An ode to good form and details done right. Really Right.”
The Babaton collection is designed “for the modernist” or for clientele looking for chic, simple pieces to add to their wardrobe. Items to find within this collection include contour bodysuits, blazers, light blouses and more.
If you’d like to read more about Babaton Atelier, on this page you can find more information.
Sunday Best reads:
“In favor of free expression. Playful silhouettes, mood-driven prints and responsible fabrics. This will be fun.”
Find cardigans, camisoles, tanks and scoop neck dresses within the Sunday Best collection.
If you’d like to read more about Sunday Best, on this page you can find more information.
Super World™ reads:
“From everyday adventures to great escapes. Technical outerwear in hyper functional fabrics with forward-thinking construction. Engineered for outside.”
To be discussed later in this article, the Super Puff™ collection houses the famous puffer coats Aritzia prides itself on– think coats, mittens or even puffer phone cases.
If you’d like to read more about Super World™, on this page you can find more information.
“You’re up for anything. So are your clothes. Premium fabrics, one-of-a-kind washes and time-perfected fits. Wearable since forever.”
Tna houses Aritzia’s casual-wear line “for the innately cool”. Pieces a part of this collection include basic t-shirts, fleece hoodies, sweatpants and more.
If you’d like to read more about Tna, on this page you can find more information.
“Supports everybody. High-performance activewear in technical fabrics designed to propel you up, over, through– wherever. Because life moves.”
TnAction™ has activewear attire such as leggings, sports bras and zip-ups.
If you’d like to read more about TnAction™, on this page you can find more information.
“Reclaim the romance of every day. Unique textiles, hand-done prints and feminine silhouettes. Each Piece is art– interpret as you will.”
“For the creative muse”, the Wilfred collection ranges from limitless trouser selections to flowy maxi-skirts.
An additional seven other exclusively-Aritzia brands are also offered. Aritzia also sells products from known brands such as New Balance, Citizens of Humanity, and AGOLDE.
If you’d like to read more about Wilfred, on this page you can find more information.
Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Jennifer Lopez are just some of the many celebrities spotted in The Super Puff™ puffer coat by Aritzia. The original Super Puff™ is a 100% goose-down puffer jacket designed to deliver warmth to -30°C / -22°F, ranging in varying colors. Expanding on this trendy piece, Aritzia created variations of the Super Puff™ to incorporate different fabrics that would appeal to the likes of every customer. Matte, metallic or cropped– you name it and Aritzia has it on a coat. The Super Puff™ Long offers more fabric in length and warms up to -40°C / -40°F, made from the same Japanese ripstop water repellent fabric in the original puffer.
Back in 2020, Aritzia announced the opening of two pop-up locations dedicated solely to the Super PuffTM brand both titled Super World. Opening locations in major cities Los Angeles and New York City, Super World attracts with their extensive display of puffer coats composed in collaboration with French-Canadian creative director and designer Willo Perron.
The Melina pants are another staple piece Aritzia became known for. Made of vegan leather, these pants are a part of the Wilfred collection and range in a variety of colors from black to bitter sage. A majority of Aritzia’s pants (if not all) are offered in short, regular, and tall options to accommodate height variations amongst clientele.
Aritzia Community™ is an organization aiding in poverty alleviation, mentorship, and job readiness. 445,000 women have been positively impacted by Aritzia’s mission to help women and girls succeed in their personal and professional lives. Aritzia contributed over $40 million in donations of products, financial support, and volunteer hours to nonprofits and Aritzia partners such as The Brotherhood Sister Sol– a program supporting Black and Latinx youth.
Aritzia aims to produce clothing that can be maintained beyond just one season of wear. Back in 2010, Aritzia kicked off their sustainability initiatives by launching the Community brand to incubate sustainability. Immediately after, the company banned fur from all their products. Since 2010, Aritzia has been taking steps toward being as sustainable as possible– Aritzia joined UN Global Impact in 2021 as the most recent initiative.
Aritzia takes an evidence-based approach when it comes to sustainability. They want to first understand their impact and follow with meaningful change. Back in 2017, Aritzia assessed the business to benchmark where they need to better their production methods sustainability-wise. Conducting the comprehensive assessment allowed the company to prioritize working with their team of specialists in developing goals and achieving positive outcomes. In this assessment, Aritzia found that they have a large impact on consumer use for carbon impacts, large fiber production for water consumption and a large generation of waste when it comes to the end of the life of products. Aritzia thus implemented policies to combat their findings. One of the policies is their Environmental Policy. The Environmental Policy outlines their vision pertaining to sustainability and requirements to be sustainable.
Clothes are only a part of the experience– Aritzia also places emphasis on the visual appeals of each store. As you step foot into an Aritzia, the uniqueness of the location is something to take note of. Each Aritzia is styled based on the space provided, taking into consideration local influences, custom interior pieces, and natural materials. The general aesthetic of an Aritzia store is a contemporary feel with an eclectic touch to promote comfortable browsing. Original sculptures, paintings, and prints adorn the walls of each location. Just recently, Aritzia placed gaming machines within the stores to keep those accompanying shoppers occupied.
Aritzia has an in-house music director who organizes playlists to fit the eclectic decor. A link to their spotify playlist can be found here. Every Friday, the playlist is updated to match the cycling of songs played in the stores.
Included in the company’s Second Quarter Fiscal 2023 Report is Wong’s quote:
“Our performance in the United States continued to surge, with revenue growth of 80%, as our existing and new boutiques once again outperformed expectations, underscoring our growing brand awareness. Our eCommerce business in the USA and Canada grew at 33%, further fueling our multi-channel business.”
Here we can see that the company continues to expand its title within both countries. Wong believes that these numbers underline the notion that long-term success is prevalent. The company plans to strategically invest in infrastructure so that they can capitalize on growth strategies.
Compared to Q2 2022, net revenue in fiscal year 2023 increased by 50.1% to $525.5 million, contrasting the previous year’s $350.1 million. Gross profit increased by 41.0% to $220.3 million, contrasting to the previous year’s $156.2 million.
The company is expected to deliver net revenue in the range of $565 million to $590 million in Q3 2023, increasing 25% to 30% from last year. Aritzia anticipates the opening of eight new boutiques and five expansions/repositions within North America for fiscal 2023. Aritzia expects a decrease in gross profit margin, net capital expenditures to be in the range of $110 million to $120 million, and net revenue to be in the range of $2.0 billion to $2.05 billion.
To read more about their report, the information can be found here.
In this article, we discussed Aritzia’s rise to fame and what makes the brand so attractive to its consumers. We touched upon the brand’s efforts at sustainability, along with their ideas to expand in the future. As a continuously evolving fashion boutique producing unique pieces for each of their in-house brands, Aritzia stands as a prime example of luxury, yet affordable retail. Hill proves that any idea has the chance to become momentous with the right eagerness and willingness to take a risk.