British retailers offer Canadian women high fashion at affordable prices

Yahoo! Contributor
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Does the word "Topshop" make you salivate? When you hear the words "French Connection," do you think high street fashion instead of Gene Hackman? Are your favourite letters of the alphabet H&M?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you're definitely a fan of British fashion retailers. And if you can't get to Britain to shop at some of your favourite stores, you're in luck. Retailers like Topshop, French Connection (a.k.a. FCUK) and H&M are just a few of the hottest British retailers to open up stores on this side of the pond.

Why are British retailers flocking to our shores to open stores? "First of all, we recognize that Canadians do have style," says Charmain Emmerson, vice president of marketing for French Connection. "When we were headed to North America, it made sense to come to Canada, just as much as it made sense to be in New York."

And if U.K. retailers love to be in Canada, the feeling is clearly mutual. Canadian women are drawn to the fashion-forward pieces available at British retailers because it gives them constant newness at an affordable price, says Mary Turner, executive VP of private brands design and development for HBC, which recently brought Topshop and Topmen into select Bay stores across Canada.

"Topshop and Topmen have established themselves as great editors of fashion," Turner says. "If you go into a Topshop and see something you like, you have confidence as a customer that they've got the fashion right."

Emmerson agrees. "We have people like Pippa Middleton walking into our stores and buying from us," she says. "Last summer, Angelina Jolie walked into a French Connection store with two of her children, and walked out with purchases. There's a reason why… we are a fashion brand, and will always be on trend."

What's more is that British retailers in Canada offer affordable fashions. "You might look at what's coming out of London and think, 'I want to be a part of that,' but you might not be someone who can afford one of the designer labels," Emmerson says. "That's when you would come to French Connection, or FCUK."

But if you shop at a U.K. retailer in Canada, can you really be sure you're getting the latest in British fashion? Absolutely, says Emmerson.

"The key pieces you see in our U.K. collection you would absolutely see here," she says. "If you look at what a designer label has produced coming out of Britain, you will find something very similar to match that."

By Alison Dunn