While most of us can say weve had our heart broken on at least one occasion, few of us can say weve then gone on to have one of our best years yet. For local designer Nicole Bridger, this is a true statement.
Last weekend, Bridger opened her first boutique (2151 West Fourth Ave., 604-730-1129). It was the culmination of years of hard work and, truth be told, a teenage dream.
Opening my own store was always the vision from the beginning it was just a matter of when, says Bridger. Ive wanted to open my own store since I was 16. The store allows me to tell the whole story behind the label and really create a community.
Bridger launched her label in 2007 after interning in the UK at Vivienne Westwood and putting in serious design time at Lululemon, where she had a hand in creating the now-defunct sustainable collection, Oqoqo.
Known for her collections easy-on-the-body silhouettes, and, above all, its use of sustainable fabrics derived from natural and renewable resources and low-impact dyes, Bridger is a mainstay in the Canadian fashion industry. Its no wonder shes one of the first local designers to open her own bricks-and-mortar boutique.
Where you might have expected the store to open in Gastown or on Main Street, however both neighbourhoods are perhaps best known for supporting local businesses over big-box chains Bridger insists that Kitsilano was the right choice for her boutique.
I knew I wanted to be in Kits because many of my customers are here already, explains Bridger. We looked at a few places, and when this one came up, it was on the ideal block and it was the ideal size.
Fashioned with the help of LEED-accredited local design firm New Leaf Interiors and featuring reclaimed wood, recycled resin chandeliers and repurposed armchairs, the former Bed store (which has relocated to Broadway and Macdonald) carries Nicole Bridger designs and a smattering of reclaimed leather accessories by Vancouvers Bronsino at least until I start making my own bags and belts, says Bridger.
Asked if having her own store jeopardizes the brands relationship or representation in other boutiques her collection is currently carried at Tenth & Proper (4483 W. 10th Ave., 604-222-1115, TenthandProper.com) in West Point Grey and Body Politic (208 E. 12th Ave., 604-568-5528, BodyPolitic.ca) in Mount Pleasant she replies, Not at all. If anything, as the brand becomes more well known, we will sell even better in other boutiques.
Eventually, Bridger also aspires to launch mens and baby collections, and perhaps even open a second store somewhere in California. I think theres a similar aesthetic there, and like-minded people, she offers, before adding, [but] Im not sure which city yet maybe San Francisco; maybe L.A.
In the meantime, elegant pieces from her spring/summer collection, entitled Reconnect, are now available.
Highlights include the Creative tunic ($259), the woven linen Uplifting jacket ($223) in a bright blue colour called rain, and the modal/spandex jersey Strength dress ($208) in an acid green-like shade called ivy.
For fall, Bridgers inspiration was her own heartbreak: After being hurt in love, it can be hard to make yourself vulnerable again in the hopes of finding true love, she says. The inspiration is Safe to Love, and there will be some deep, rich, passionate colours. Were betting itll be another smash success.