TORONTO — Canadian expansion and entry into the U.S. market are on the agenda this fall for Montreal’s fashion brand Rudsak.
Known for its edgy yet elegant outwear, the 22-year-old brand — which operates 34 locations across Canada — is adding to its store count, beginning with the mid-August launch of Rudsak’s first-ever boutique in the country’s capital, at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre.
The brand’s expansion plans continue later this month as Rudsak opens its doors at the Scarborough Town Centre, increasing its store count in the greater Toronto area from eight to nine.
Montreal’s prestigious Westmount neighborhood will also welcome a more intimate Rudsak boutique this fall, which will showcase a premium selection of the brand’s seasonal collection of outerwear, apparel and footwear.
“This will be our 20th store opening in Quebec and our 13th store in the greater Montreal area,” said Rudsak chief financial officer Lambros Piscopos. “Frankly, we’re almost at the point of saturation here in terms of bricks-and-mortar locations. But if you had asked me five years ago I would never have thought that we would have reached the point where we are today.
“The retail market has been tough in Canada. But interesting opportunities are opening up to us now that simply were not available five years ago,” the cfo added.
For example, Cadillac Fairview’s recent, high-end upgrade of Ottawa’s Rideau Centre made the mall appealing to Rudsak’s executives, including founder Evik Asatoorian.
“Cadillac Fairview spent a huge amount of money to revitalize the Rideau Centre. That update made it a great opportunity for us to launch in Ottawa for the very first time,” Piscopos said.
Rudsak’s e-commerce capabilities will also undergo a strategic evolution this fall as the company begins servicing U.S. customers for the first time via its web site. “We have been evaluating the U.S. market for quite some time. But starting online will give us a feel for that market, which is quite complex,” Piscopos said.
According to Piscopos, Rudsak will likely confirm retail space in the U.S. market over the next 12 months and launch one or two boutiques in key cities within 18 months. “Our online data will let us know exactly where our American shoppers are, which, in turn, will help us better structure our U.S. rollout,” he said.
Finally, Rudsak’s store design will undergo an evolution. Ranging in size between 1,300 and 3,500 square feet, some locations will cater exclusively to women. “Others will carry our full collections, including footwear and apparel for both men and women,” Piscopos said.
Founded in 1994 by Asatoorian, Rudsak now offers outerwear, apparel, footwear, bags and accessories. “Rudsak is grounded by its Canadian heritage and its Montreal roots,” said Piscopos. “The furs and leathers we use are unique to Canada. But what makes us different is the way we style things. Rudsak makes it cool to be warm.”
“One of the reasons we’ve been able to succeed in such a tough market is because we acquired strong brand recognition at a measured pace in Canada. But we’re not Canada Goose,” Piscopos said. “We’re Canada Goose with more styling and tailoring. One brand is more functional. But Rudsak is a rebel. It’s what you wear when you go out at night. That difference in attitude is why we resonate with consumers across Canada.”