Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.
The rumours have been swirling for months, and finally we have confirmation: Joe Fresh will open a stand alone store in the St. Laurent Centre on February 27!
(That’s roughly around the time when most people in the country will be packing away their winter wear… ah well, at least we can shop and plan for the warmer weather that is sure to come by late April.)
Here, we talk with JF Creative Director Joe Mimran — aka Mr. Joe Fresh — about the brand, the new store, and his personal style.
SHOP TALK: Offering Joe Fresh through Loblaws grocery stores was a very unique distribution channel when first introduced. Will Joe Fresh continue to be offered through Loblaws now that you’re operating standalone stores?
Joe Mimran: Grocery stores are where we built this brand and are still a huge part of the business. We know how helpful it can be for our shopper to be able to pick up their weekly groceries and a few clothing items for their family at the same time. Our stand alone stores are meant to accentuate the grocery stores and reach the downtown and mall shopper.
ST: When you’re designing for Joe Fresh, what kind of customer do you have in mind?
JM: As the brand has grown, so has our customer base, so we really design for every type of Canadian. We have fashion-forward items for the super shopper, tailored pieces for the working woman, and some of the very best priced basics like cotton t-shirts for everyone. Plus we have recently been expanding our men’s section and our accessories collection.
ST: What inspires your collections?
JM: I am inspired by influences all around me from a recent modern art purchase to travel. We see the brand as classic with a twist, so we interpret the trends in a way that is wearable for much more than one season.
ST: Where do you source your fabrics? Where do you manufacture?
JM: All over the world.
ST: You’ve worked with higher end clothing brands in the past, such as Club Monaco and Alfred Sung. How is working with the Joe Fresh line different?
JM: Each one of the brands I’ve helped develop was created to fill a niche, and Joe Fresh is no different. We started Alfred Sung because there weren’t many options for the quickly growing women’s workforce in the late ‘70s. Club Monaco was launched when I couldn’t find the perfect white shirt and I realized there was a lack of well-designed, classic pieces in the marketplace. And Joe Fresh was originally created for the busy mom to give her great clothing options at the place she visits so often – the grocery store.
No matter the price point each brand I’ve helped develop shares my commitment to quality. Just because a pair of Joe Fresh coloured jeans are priced at $19 doesn’t mean they haven’t passed though several hands to make sure they have the very best fit and fabrication.
ST: How do you and your wife inspire each other’s designs, if at all?
JM: We bounce ideas off of each other and inspire each other. I am so happy for her success and vice versa.
ST: Tell us about your personal style. What are your essentials for the weekend? For meetings?
JM: I wear classic, well-made pieces that are tailored to me. You’ll often find me in a Joe Fresh coloured sweater, white shirt, black pants and my favourite velvet slippers. I like having a uniform so I don’t have to think about what I am going to wear in the morning.
ST: Here in Ottawa, we’re really excited about the new standalone store. What will we see in store for spring/summer from Joe Fresh?
JM: This new location will feature clothing for the whole family from fashion to active. Key items include women’s coloured denim ($19), the $16 women’s sweater available in 12 beautiful spring shades, an easy-to-wear women’s striped knit dress ($19), polos for him in every colour imaginable at $12 (or 2 for $20) and kids rainwear from jackets to boots. The store will also contain a large display of Joe Fresh Beauty products including bold lipstick colors ($6) and a rainbow of nail polish shades ($4 or 3 for $10).