Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.
For devotees of Canadian designers, Judith & Charles can seem like a bit of an anomaly. The ties to European brand Teenflo (which itself is a confusing name), the wholesale history, and the fact that it’s a made-in-Canada brand that doesn’t feature Hudson’s Bay stripes, maple leafs, or birds all add up to create a label that hard to well, label. Plus, the stores are found in malls, not boutique shopping districts. And for a new-ish brand, the (high) price point came as a bit of a shock.
That said, the fact that Charles Le Pierres was actually present at the last party we attended — and having fun! — caught our attention. Maybe it was the champagne making our head spin, but we felt we had to get to the bottom of this fascinating brand.
So we asked for the straight goods from the other half of the brand — Judith Richardson
SHOP TALK: What role do you have with the brand? What does Charles do?
JUDITH RICHARDSON: My main role is design director. I’m responsible for all the products that carry the Judith and Charles label. We deliver a new capsule of approximately 25 styles every month. Charles focuses on business development and most recently the retail and international expansion. Both of us collaborate on the image and branding for the company as well as major business decisions.
ST: J&C is “tailored with love in Canada.” Most Canadian brands seem to be located in shopping districts that include specialty boutiques and small, designer-driven stores. Why did you choose the Rideau Centre?
JR: We chose Rideau Centre because we felt it met our needs as well as the needs of our customers.
ST:We understand that the brand has recently been renamed, from TeenFlo. Why did you change the name?
JR:J&C has previously had the North American licenses to distribute TeenFlo. When they realized that the customer was maturing and there was an untapped market they grew into their own brand, Judith & Charles.
ST: Are there plans to open more stores in Ottawa?
JR: We have no intentions of opening a second location in Ottawa at the moment. Our goal is to build a strong following at the Rideau Centre, which takes time and patience.
ST: How do you picture the woman shopping at J&C in Ottawa? Is she a bureaucrat, a socialite, a student … maybe a prof?
JR: We know that our customer is typically a woman who works. Our collection focuses on fabrics and designs that are high performance and modern that travel well. Whether it is a dress, or jacket for an event, or the most current cut of jeans, we want to be able to simplify her shopping experience. We know it is important for our customer to be current and stylish, however we recognize the fact that her lifestyle encompasses many interests. Our goal is service her fashion needs so she will have more time to pursue her many interests.
ST: We were surprised to see separate lookbooks for Spring 2013 and Summer 2013. Is this normal for J&C? If so, why?
JR: We have four seasons a year; we produce look books for each season. It is extremely important to have a consistent flow of new merchandise in the shops. Our customers visit our shops on a regular basis — they want to be surprised on every visit!
ST: How would you describe the Fall 2013 lineup?
JR: Leather and fur continue to be a strong trend for fall. Leather detailing is found throughout the collection in pieces such as the Bobby coat with leather sleeves and a bonded leather front jacket. Luxury pieces include a fur blouson jacket and a fur t -shirt. Outerwear in menswear inspired fabrics is a focus of the collection as well. Skirts and skirt suits in various lengths and volumes are new and interesting.