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This article was published 8/7/2010 (3384 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg fashionistas will have a pair of new retailers to shop at early next year, one from each end of the price spectrum.
Forever 21 and BCBGMAXAZRIA, a pair of California-based companies that are new to the Winnipeg market, are preparing to begin construction in the old Canada Safeway location in the Polo Park Shopping Centre.
"They're both pretty big deals. Winnipeg is going to like those stores a lot," said Rebecca McCormack, owner of Cake Clothing, an Exchange District retailer and designer.
She described Forever 21 as a "trendier version" of Le Château, while BCBG is "pretty dressy," with "Club Monaco-like prices."
McCormack said she expects BCBG to have as big an impact on Polo Park as Sephora, a France-based cosmetics retailer, has had since it opened in November.
Forever 21 targets teenage girls and the young at heart from both sexes with "fast fashion," where new shipments arrive virtually daily at its stores. The company's website features dozens of jackets, hoodies, vests, tops and tunics on sale for less than $10.
"Forever 21's business has been successful in other markets and we have decided to expand by opening a store in Winnipeg," said Larry Meyer, Forever 21's executive vice-president. "The co-tenancy in Polo Park is very good and we feel that Cadillac Fairview (which owns Polo Park) operates great malls."
Meyer said the store will encompass 38,000 square feet, making it one of the biggest in the mall when it opens in January. It will have a staff of between 55 and 60 employees.
"(We're) known for offering the hottest and most current fashion trends at a great value to consumers," Meyer said.
BCBGMAXAZRIA, which is named for the French phrase "bon chic, bon genre" — Parisian slang meaning "good style, good attitude" — has attracted a number of celebrity fans to its high-fashion offering in recent years, including Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson, who have been spotted on red carpets sporting its slinky dresses, leather jackets and chiffon gowns.
John Winter, a Toronto-based retail analyst, said the two stores would be "notable" additions to the local fashion scene but, perhaps more importantly, their arrival also represents a vote of confidence in the Winnipeg market. Retailers don't expand into new areas with the idea of losing money, he said.
"We're coming out of a recession, but these are two chains that want to be in Winnipeg. Where else would you want to go if you're a clothing retailer but Polo Park? It's a no-brainer as long as you can afford the rents," he said.
Safeway moved out of the 40,000-square-foot space at the mall's east end in December 2008, when it relocated to a new store at nearby Madison Square. The space has been empty ever since, but construction workers were spotted on site this week.
Forever 21 is no stranger to large spaces. Four years ago, it opened its flagship store in Pasadena, Calif., one of its biggest outlets, at 40,000 square feet.
BCBG has 29 Canadian locations sprinkled throughout Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec. Forever 21 has 10 stores in the same provinces and another 470 stores throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, Korea and Japan.