While La Canadienne is known for its cold-weather boots, the Montreal-based brand is looking to target a four-season customer with the launch of new transitional styles. This spring, it delivered its first collection of transitional booties and best sellers reinvented in brighter, lighter shades for spring.
“Historically, we’ve been a brand that lived only in the fall and winter within the wholesale department store world. Whereas in our own channels, we’re multi-category,” said president Nicholas Niro. “Now, we are working very much on bridging the gap.”
Niro joined the team in 2019 after nine years leading Stuart Weitzman’s Canadian business. The same year, La Canadienne founders Penny Schuster and Gianni Lamanuzzi partnered with private equity firm Champlain Financial Corp. to create La Canadienne Enterprises Inc. In 2020, Niro was promoted to president.
The luxury market is a key focus for the brand, he said. Current partners include Holt Renfrew in Canada, and Nordstrom and Zappos.com in the U.S. La Canadienne also launched with Elyse Walker for fall ’21 and on Saks.com for spring ’22.
Wholesale represents 60% of the business, said Niro, though he noted there has been a shift in growth in the brand’s DTC channels. And like the rest of the industry, the brand is capitalizing on that opportunity.
“Selective DTC brick-and-mortar is definitely part of our growth strategy in the future,” the exec said, adding that La Canadienne debuted a Toronto flagship last summer — its first store outside of Montreal. “We have also started to distribute overseas in Mexico, Australia, China, Hong Kong, and we are looking to further expand overseas from a wholesale standpoint.”
In 2020, the label launched new marketing focused on its technical capabilities, more specifically its CityDry waterproofing technology, which has resonated with retail partners and consumers.
Randa Farran, Nordstrom’s omni buyer of comfort and core, told FN, “Our customers have been responding positively to the CityDry collection, which has been a game changer. Gone are the days of needing to change out of your boots when you get to the office. Their waterproof technology, coupled with great design, offers a functional and fashionable solution for ‘desk to drinks.’”
This fall, La Canadienne will also focus on building up its shearling line, which Niro said customers are wearing outside of the winter months. In addition, the company will mark its 35th anniversary by launching a capsule collection that takes inspiration from its archival styles.