If you’re a resident of Canada with any inkling of good taste, chances are that you’re already familiar with the name ‘gravitypope’ (and if not, consider this your lucky day). Now, before the grammar police starts swarming, that IS how the company displays their name—one word, all lower case—which, befittingly, is a subtle representation of their spirit: one stop for all your under-the-radar brands with over-the-top fashion swagger (think Jil, Dries, and Marant).
So how did a small shoe store with humble beginnings in Edmonton grow to become one of Canada’s leading destinations for quality designer footwear and apparel? Well, with the kind of leadership and vision that owner Louise Dirks powers her team with—their famous “penny sale” has consistently generated notable frenzies amongst fashion enthusiasts across the nation—the expansion and recognition were evitable. Here, Blueprint talks shoes, style inspiration, and dream collabs with Louise.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with gravitypope (tsk, tsk!) please describe the philosophy and aesthetic of the company.
Over the last 24 years, gravitypope has built a reputation for having a unique mix of fashion, sport, comfort and children’s product. We currently stock over 175 footwear collections from Europe, Japan, and North America. In line with the footwear stores, gravitypope Tailored Goods has grown to offer a carefully selected assortment of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories focusing on quality made product.
Just snowballing on top of the previous question…if gravitypope was a celebrity, which of the following would it be: A) Rihanna B) Blake Lively C) Arianna Grande D) Iggy Azalea E) Olivia Palermo or F) Enter your own answer.
Isabella Rossellini. She is beautiful, strong, real, talented, nonconformist; a little crazy and in it for the long haul.
What is your role within the company? Give us a little glimpse into what a typical day might look like.
I wake up anywhere between 4 and 7 am and answer emails for an hour, or sometimes two, before getting up. I am often inspired early in the day and send off direction to specific departments—whether it’s marketing or inventory management—then I get up and start my day. I head to the office mid-morning and spend the rest of the day in meetings with various departments or working on orders with the buying team. About half of my time is spent on the road, where I usually head out to showroom or trade show appointments, rushing from meeting to meeting.
gravitypope, in addition to its own in-house line of shoes, also stocks a myriad of high-low brands, from Alexander Wang and Marni to Converse and Toms in its various retail locations across Canada. What’s it like having to buy for stores in different cities? Is there a stark difference in what the customers in each city gravitate (hee hee) towards in terms of brands and styles?
There are slight differences. The larger markets like Vancouver and Toronto sell a narrower selection of product. We sell ‘trend’ product like Isabel Marant sneakers and Acne boots very quickly in those 2 cities. Edmonton is adventurous and daring. Calgary likes heels. Vancouver LOVES rubber boots; you can’t give them away in Edmonton, but Edmonton loves Uggs. The consistent theme is that our clients have an understanding of style and craftsmanship.
Now…we have to ask: which, in your opinion, is the most fashion-forward city based on your answer to the last question?
We can’t pick a favourite or most fashion-forward child. With that said, each city has very fashionable and knowledgeable clients. In the last 7 years the fashion world has become more accessible with live streaming big shows to bloggers getting exclusives. This means our consumers are more knowledgeable and fashionable than ever.
Which came first: the clothing or the shoes? (gravitypope Tailored Goods vs. gravitypope footwear)
Our first store was a footwear store with a cafe in the back (we were serving macchiato long before Starbucks!). Once the cafe closed, we started filling the space with clothing and it grew to the point where the gravitypope Tailored Goods concept came into its own, and the first clothing store was opened in 2007.
Over the years, gravitypope has garnered a bit of a reputation for its famous “penny sales” where customers can buy 1 item and get the second (of equal or lesser value) for a penny. Who came up with this concept? Has a fight ever broken out?
We came up with this idea in the late nineties. Sadly since the federal government has done away with the penny we had to go back to the drawing board and have since introduced a “Buy1 Get 1 Free” sale. Our customers do line up for this promotion but everyone is pretty friendly.
Every season, the selection at gravitypope—whether it be shoes or Tailored Goods–is right on-trend without screaming “fashion victim”, while balanced by easy, everyday classics. What are the company’s go-to’s for inspiration when it comes to designing and buying for each season?
We love to buy product that stands the test of time. For footwear, Moma, Fiorentini & Baker, Camper, Dr. Martens, Adidas and Vans are always in our range. For clothing, Acne, Isabel Marant, Forte Forte, Sophie D’Hoore, and Paul Smith are solid brands that we have carried for many years and always sell well. The fits are right, fabrics are beautiful and the aesthetic speaks to our consumer. We are always looking for new brands of the moment to sprinkle in amongst our good old standbys like Marni, Carven, and Jill Sander. We also listen to feedback from our clients as well as our well-educated staff who love fashion.
Dream collaboration? It could be anything or anyone, real or fictional, alive or dead, individual or group–who would it be with and what would the collection look like?
For our 25th Anniversary, we are collaborating with some of our favorite designers and brands to celebrate the quarter century mark. We would love to work with Consuelo Castiglioni (creative director of Marni)!
– Michelle Yu