If these boots can make it Montreal, they can make it anywhere. That’s the message behind La Canadienne’s updated collection, released for fall ’20.
The Montreal-based footwear company has unveiled new brand positioning and technical capabilities this season, inspired by life in that northern city. With the launch, La Canadienne hopes to connect with today’s increasingly discerning customers — and set itself apart from other fashion names in the designer space.
“Looking at the DNA of this brand, it couldn’t be more relevant today,” said president Nicholas Niro, who joined La Canadienne last year after nine years leading Stuart Weitzman’s Canadian business. “We’re offering the customer functional footwear that’s on trend, and it’s consciously made for life in the city.”
The fall collection features updated designs with more novelty colors and textures, as well as new soles and constructions. But the most noteworthy addition to the line is the CityDry waterproofing technology, now offered on more than 100 of the brand’s suede and leather boots. The CityDry line is currently available on the brand’s website for $425 to $600, although La Canadienne also is sold at major department stores including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Holt Renfrew, as well as Zappos.com.
Developed in-house at its production facilities in Montreal, the CityDry technology goes a step beyond typical spray-on treatments, according to Niro. “The waterproof treatment is not just on the surface; the leather is actually treated throughout,” he said. “That’s what gives it a really long life. That’s how we’re able to get the waterproofing to last for six months.” In addition, the brand seals the seams on its shoes to reinforce the protective qualities of the leather.
To communicate the brand’s core capabilities, La Canadienne also has released new marketing imagery that captures life in Montreal. “There’s a lot of movement in the campaign. And we’re also showing our footwear in action — in water, in ice, in snow,” said Niro. “We want it to exist in the environment that it’s going to be worn in.”
La Canadienne itself has also undergone change internally. In June 2019, founders Penny Schuster and Gianni Lamanuzzi partnered with private equity firm Champlain Financial Corp. to create La Canadienne Enterprises Inc. To help lead the new entity, Nicolas Topiol came on as chairman. Niro was named president this year, after first joining the brand as chief merchandising officer.
At the time of the deal, Champlain partner Scott Jackson identified opportunity for La Canadienne to expand into new markets. And Niro believes that by identifying the brand with its hometown, it can do just that.
“We’re making footwear that can survive life in Montreal, where you have four seasons in a day,” he said. “That works globally, in markets in the northeast of the U.S. and in European markets like Germany and the U.K. Many cities and countries around the world have very similar climates.”
He also is upbeat about the brand’s prospects, even amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has drastically altered the way people live their lives and caused many consumers to become more cautious in their purchases amid financial instability.
“People are not traveling as much [right now], but they’re going to be walking this fall and winter, and going outdoors more,” said Niro. “So if someone is going to invest in a boot this winter, and we know that people need footwear — it’s almost an essential item — they’re going to want to invest in a $500 item from La Canadienne. It will last for seasons because of the quality of the materials and the craftsmanship.”