Since 1990, gravitypope has offered Canada’s most disconcerting fashion customers a global selection of the finest in footwear, apparel and accessories. Owner and CEO Louise Dirks opened the first store in Edmonton, Alberta, followed by a second location in Calgary, Alberta and a third boutique in Vancouver, British Columbia. And in 2007, the intrepid Dirks bowed gravitypope Tailored Goods, a retail concept dedicated to men’s and women’s apparel, in both Edmonton and Vancouver.
By creating a unique experience for shoppers with three-dimensional tile walls and marble tables in Vancouver, and opulent Louis XVI fixtures in Toronto, Dirk has set an unforgettable stage to showcase footwear labels spanning Camper, Acne and Coclico to Blundstone and Wolverine 1000 Mile.
This year, the store will mark its 25th anniversary by releasing special collections with 25 of its favorite brands. It will be releasing five at a time starting in early spring and all throughout the year. While the collaborative styles are sure to be bestsellers in 2015, Vamp spoke to Dirks about what’s selling now in boot-crazed Canada and the trends gravitypope shoppers will encounter for Spring ‘15.
Which boot trends are your clientele gravitating toward this winter?
LD: Customers are loving ankle boots of every type. Gusset Chelsea boots are super-hot right now. Easy to wear with a variety of outfits, they keep feet looking good and don’t overwhelm an outfit and they still protect from the elements. Lace up ankle boots, plain and brogue are very popular. Back zip ankle boots are also trending.
People seem to be embracing winter boots and are looking for good quality, functional, temperature-rated winter boots. Function seems to be more important than ever before. Consumers want to spend their money wisely and get footwear that protects from the elements.
What is the best-selling boot this season?
LD: We have a few best sellers, depending on the city. In Vancouver, we are selling the Aigle Ms. Juliette rubber boots like hot cakes. The rubber on these boots is super soft, supple and comfy. The shape is sleek and not too bulky, providing a clean stylish look. And if that isn’t enough, these boots are still made in France where Aigle started. They are perfect for the wet, slushy Vancouver weather, and if you want a special rubber boot, Aigle is an excellent stylish choice.
Also in Vancouver, the Hunter Original Tall knee high rubber boot runs a close second for sales. It is a bit heavier than the Aigle boot and offers good functionality. It comes in a plethora of colors for your every mood, but matte black is still the favorite.
In Edmonton, Calgary and online, the Sorel 1964 Premium is killing it. Everyone seems to be in need for winter boots this season and this is definitely the boot of choice. It has a sleeker silhouette than some of the other Sorel boots and still maintains a temperature rating of -32 degrees. The rich tan leather gives a classic look, perfectly on trend for hipsters and fashionistas alike. Unfortunately, Sorel didn’t make enough of this boot this year and we are struggling to find enough stock to keep up with the demand. Consider yourself lucky if you have a pair.
And in all stores, the Fiorentini + Baker ELI boot continues to dominate. We have been selling this boot now for a few years and the demand only grows. It is truly the best of its kind in the world market. It is hand made in Italy using the finest full grain leather and fully leather lined; it has a half rubber outsole for added comfort and traction. It fits like a glove and can be worn with everything from skirts and dresses to jeans and shorts. It looks great on and best of all, you feel like a million bucks wearing this boot. Debra Baker [the designer] nailed it when she designed this masterpiece!
All stores are also moving loads of the classic Dr. Marten1460 8-hole boot. It’s happening all over again, just like the late ’80s and early ’90s. The resurgence of Dr. Martens has started and we anticipate this is only the beginning. The black smooth 8-hole boot is the powerhouse, however, all Docs are flying off the shelf like it was 1990 all over again.
What was your business highlights for 2014?
LD: The highlight for us has been in a few different areas. Our online business is growing nicely and we are working on a new website that should be ready to launch in early 2015. This is very exciting for us.
Our clothing stores have seen some great growth and we are proud of the beautiful product mix we have put together over the past few seasons.
Over the last 12 years we have been steadily growing our in-house brand and for 2014 we were very excited to launch a very successful collaboration with former TO&CO designer, Masahio Wakabayashi. This collaboration has resulted in a beautiful collection of leather shoes and boots for both men and women. We intend to continue growing this project into 2015.
What was the best performing brand in 2014?
LD: We have many ‘best performing’ brands. It is difficult to name one best performing brand as we measure more by sales growth within a brand. Some of the years’ brands with enormous growth include Church’s, Common Projects, Grenson, Acne, Dr Marten’s, Birkenstock and Aigle.
What is the best new brand you added to your assortment as of late?
LD: Hands down, our gravitypope X Masahiro Wakabayashi brand. This beautiful Italian made collection of boots offer great value for excellent quality and comfort and we are proud to put our name on this product and be working together with such amazing artisans.
We also started carrying Megumi Ochi this year. She is a great addition to the Spanish roster of brands we carry, Coclico, Chie Mihara and Audley included.
What is your business resolution for 2015?
LD: Our business resolution for 2015 is to keep bringing the consumer beautiful, unique, quality footwear that provides them special enjoyment. We want to continue to get people excited about what they wear on their feet and to help them learn about new exciting designers and brands from all over the world. We want to continue to offer consumers a special and unique experience from our brand mix, our customer service and our beautiful stores.
Which trends are you betting on to be popular for spring?
LD: Sneakers are making a big comeback and we predict fashion sneakers from Marni, See by Chloe and of course Common Projects to be a big deal this spring. Vans, Converse and New Balance will all ride the wave as well.
Pointed flats from gravitypope and ballet flats from Repetto will still be worthy go-to styles.
Birkenstocks are going to continue from the craze they left off with last spring. Chunky sandals are going to be on point and wide strapped sandals will be a focus. Adidas Adilette slides and the classic Teva sandals will be in high demand.
And we anticipate ankle boots to continue to sell well, as they have been for the past few springs.