SOURCE: RITCHIE PO, SPECIAL TO RETAIL INSIDER
Poppy Barley, Edmonton’s famed leather bespoke footwear company, opened a 1,000-square foot flagship at Edmonton’s Southgate Centre last week.
Opening day festivities included a meet-and-greet at noon with Style at Home’s Editor-in-Chief, Erin McLaughlin. The brand’s Mexican Operations Manager, Laura Obregon-Cordova (who is also the brand’s first employee), traveled to Edmonton for the occasion. Taking a cue from Willy Wonka, five lucky customers who purchased in-store received an envelope at checkout containing a Golden Ticket that entitles them to free shoes. Select designs from the brand’s fall 2017 collection were also unveiled.
The flagship not only contains made-to-measure design styles, but also a select number of ready-to-wear designs. The brand is bringing the online experience to the store through a made-to-measure consultation lounge and a tactile leather wall displaying the designs. This is intended to introduce new customers to Poppy Barley’s bespoke business model, and also provide an offline experience for the initiated clientele. Poppy Barley intends to convert its long-standing Whyte Avenue location into office space, with client-facing measurements migrating to the new flagship.
Poppy Barley was founded in 2012 by sisters Justine and Kendall Barber, creating bespoke shoes for women. The brand, known for their distinct colours and unique eye for detail, eschews the traditional ready-to-wear line in favour of bespoke shoes, which are designed and created online by their clientele. In order to accommodate varying requirements, customers are invited to submit their measurements online, and the shoes will be hand-made and delivered right to their door (for a flat fee of $9.95), creating the ultimate bespoke footwear experience. Due to demand, the brand has expanded to include a men’s line, while remaining at an affordable price point for consumers. Poppy Barley’s aesthetic crosses numerous demographics, and easily transitions from day-to-night. It remains the very first North American footwear brand to offer made-to-measure boots online. As their designs are not intended to be mass-produced, their more popular designs often sell out. Prior to the launch of its first-ever brick-and-mortar location, Poppy Barley hosted pop-up shops in Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Toronto, and Vancouver. The pop-up shops are so in-demand that appointments for their events sell out weeks in advance. Those familiar with the brand have long sought it out at select boutiques, such as their very recently expanded shop-in-shop at Vancouver’s Nicole Bridger in historic Gastown.
The brand is noted for its involvement with the community and for sustainability. Poppy Barley shoes are made in León, Mexico. Partner factories are chosen to commit to the brand’s goals for environmentally-friendly footwear and reduce its carbon footprint. “Our suppliers are exceptionally innovative, environmentally conscious and forward-thinking”, says Caroline Gault, the brand’s Director of Content and Community. “Right now, our tannery cleans and recycles the water it uses in the leather tanning process so that the water can be safely restored into the water system”.
Poppy Barley brings an edgier, design-conscious aesthetic to Southgate Centre, representing a homegrown Canadian success story. “We’re focused on making our first physical retail environment in Edmonton a rich and fulfilling experience for our customers, and our team”, Gault said. Long known as a best-kept secret, Poppy Barley has developed a fiercely devoted clientele of tastemakers, and should enjoy much success in its new flagship. And the Southgate location might not be the brand’s last permanent freestanding store — Calgary and Vancouver could be next, pending performance at the Southgate flagship.