Articles Tagged ‘Shop Talk’

SHOP TALK: Holts out, J.Crew in as downtown shopping scene continues to evolve

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Coveted handbags are a big draw at Holt Renfrew.

Shopaholics were aghast at the news that high-end retailer Holt Renfrew would close its Ottawa location in early 2015. And while it’s always been one of those “aspirational” destinations, here at SHOP TALK we were pretty bummed. If shopping can be compared to art, then a visit to Holts was akin to stepping into the National Gallery — it wasn’t so much about filling gaps in our wardrobe as it was about stimulating our fashion senses. And for that, Holts will surely be missed.

That, and the stellar work they did with their window displays! I don’t know who is going into that retail space, but it’s safe to say that corner of Queen Street will never be the same.

From J. Crew's Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

From J. Crew’s Spring/Summer 2015 ready to wear collection

We reached out to our contacts at Holt Renfrew — ICYMI, Prada pumps featured in our September 2013 issue — and learned that the Sparks Street store that housed Holt Renfrew for 78 years was actually too small to accommodate it long-term. And so we say adieu to Holt Renfrew…

And allo! to J. Crew. One week later, On September 3, J. Crew opened its doors in the Rideau Centre. SHOP TALK attended the breakfast opening and got a better understanding of the brand we’ve heard so much about. And though it’s doubtful we’ll ever get to shop the pieces from that J.Crew showed earlier this week at New York Fashion Week, or even from it’s beautiful ready to wear collection (see left) we were excited to see the diversity of offerings — I had seen it as a preppy brand (no objections there!) but was happy to see some more casual pieces as well.

Sarah Fischer, who has shopped J. Crew before in the U.S., was excited about the fun prints. The Tick Tock blouse, which we spotted on a few staff, spoke to her love of classic pieces — that don’t take themselves too seriously!

Love this blazer!

Love this blazer!

And we loved this blazer — good to see camel staying strong for fall, it’s such a versatile and classic colour.




SHOP TALK: Etsy Roadtrip comes to LeBreton Flats

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.


We’ve been hearing a lot about the revitalization of LeBreton Flats, but other than Bluesfest the area still seems like a bit of a dead zone. But what’s this … the Etsy Roadtrip is coming to town, and setting up shop at the Flats? And since we also hear that the online shopping site is planning world domination, perhaps the time has come for this storied part of the city to shine.

With The Merry Dairy, Streetside Curry, and Bridgehead on board, it’s certainly worth checking out. Another nod to the event is the involvement of Campy Home — that’s the new endeavour by Handmade Harvest co-founder Emily Arbour. Cute candles, nice packaging — seems like a good hostess gift for that next barbecue!

And there’s music! Kelly Sloan and the Claytones. We’re just getting wind of this event now, so not sure about the schedule of events, but it seems like a reason to take a bike through that part of the Ottawa River pathway.

Read more about the tour from our sister mag, FASHION.

Etsy Roadtrip pop-up shop. Monday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lebreton Flats






SHOP TALK: Arrive in style with lightweight layers and colourful accessories

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Photo by Marc Fowler.

Photo by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio/


Panama via Oahu
Keep cool and stylish this summer with a deLux Panama hat ($44.50). Made with eco-friendly ethically sourced materials, it’s a timeless topper (that happens to be on trend right now). Stand out while you sit back: this RJC Hawaiian shirt ($69.50) was made on the island of Oahu and promises a touch of aloha.
Fab Gear, 1112 Wellington St. W., 613-725-1964.

On Deck
A modern update on the classic deck shoe, the Ecco Eisner ($195) features a flexible sole and breathable lining that absorbs moisture — say bon voyage to sweaty feet! Rich leather uppers make it a perfectly acceptable choice for almost every summer outing.
Letellier Shoes, 146 Rideau St., 613-241-6557.

In Vest
This long sleeveless vest is a simple and avant-garde way to add a splash of colour to an outfit, making it a hot commodity for jet-setters. Made of Egyptian mako cotton, the Toni ($295) is substantial without restricting movement — in short, a perfect layering piece.
Ça va de soi, 459 Sussex Dr., 613-789-2828.

Take Note
Inspired by rare finds in the American Museum of Natural History Library, this Natural Histories journal ($15.95) is sure to make writing that next poem (or to-do list) an act of grace. In addition to the eye-catching owl cover, the diary features 192 ruled pages and a ribbon bookmark.
Paper Papier, 18 Clarence St., 613-241-1212.

In Bloom
This colourful Silk Route scarf ($128) is a light wrap that’s sure to brighten up any outfit. Printed with flowers and butterflies, as well as the season’s ubiquitous black-and-white stripes, it’s a versatile accessory that protects shoulders from the sun on hot days and offers practical warmth on chilly evenings.
Clothes by Muriel Dombret, 1258 Wellington St. W., 613-798-0167.

SHOP TALK: Pink Palladium shoes for summer

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.


Love this look! Check out more Flex Collection stylings at

Let me say off the top that I’ve always been wary of colourful shoes. While I have yet to do the Middleton nude pumps, I always figured that black, brown, or metallic shoes offered more bang for your buck. At my desk I keep my “work shoes” — right now I’m looking at three brown heels and one pair of black flats. (Can you say bo-ring?)

Flex Lace Palladium shoes in Pink Lemonade

Flex Lace Palladium shoes in Pink Lemonade

So when the kind people at ZOI agency offered to send me a pair of the new summer canvas kicks from Palladium, I balked at the colour choices. I admire people who have the guts to embrace colour, I just question how to wear colourful shoes. Do you try to match? Do you make them the highlight of an outfit? It’s the kind of wardrobe detail that makes one late for work! So I put them aside.

That was, until I broke my toenail. I won’t bore you with the details except to say it didn’t happen in any cool way and I swore a lot. But the darn thing didn’t fall off, and I’m not one for self-inflicted pain (unless, perhaps, there’s a prize to be won). So I bandage and soak — and walk carefully to prevent the whole thing from falling off.

Pink and green feels like spring!

Pink and green feels like spring! Photo by Sarah Fischer

In this case, physical pain overrides wardrobe anxiety and I looked to my pink Flex Lace Palladiums. With a nice big toe box I was even able to do some lunges without bashing that tender big toe, and they put a smile on my face. (In truth, having  a little girl to dress has endeared me to pink.)

And, as often happens when we’re forced out of our comfort zone, I found these shoes added a skip to my (albeit cautious) steps. They made me feel like a kid again — I grew up at a time when canvas shoes were the thing to wear in those perfect last weeks of school. And most of all, I found they went with everything from girly summer dresses to jeans to shorts. Sure, I take a moment to colour-check, but mostly I’m having fun pushing the envelope with these fun flats.

See how my pink shoes match so nicely with my kid's hoodie-dress? She's wearing off on me.

See how my pink shoes match so nicely with my kid’s hoodie-dress? She’s wearing off on me.

STORE PROFILE: Curiosity shop Wunderkammer expands to feature more home decor, jewellery, and other quirky treasures

This week Shop Talk welcomes guest blogger Ashleigh VanHouten

A 16-foot yellow canoe in the front window (also for sale) beckons shoppers.

A 16-foot yellow canoe in the front window (also for sale) beckons shoppers.

Heard of Wunderkammer? It’s a hidden gem of a place, though not so hidden anymore — the curiosity shop recently re-opened in a bigger and better spot just down the block from their original space on Dalhousie Street.

Tamara Steinborn and Nathan Dubo, partners in life and work, moved from Montreal  a few years ago to open their Lowertown shop and are already enjoying  steady success — to the point where their intimate store could no longer contain the volume of jewelry, home decor, and vintage finds that their customers were asking for.

Wunderkammer’s new spot has the same warm, well-curated vibe as the original, just with a bit more breathing room — and a lot more baubles. The new and improved store houses much more in the way of home decor and accents, including bigger pieces like wardrobes and wall art.

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SHOP TALK: The Prom Edition with Erica Wark

On Caroline: Le Chateau dress $129.99, Walmart sandals $19.99, Caroline's own earrings; on Delaney: Marshall's dress $24.99, The Shoe Company pumps $89.99, Ardene earrings $7.50, The Shoe Company clutch $24.99. Click on photo for more images. Photo by Eric Watters.

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Yes, it’s that time again: prom! Whether you are going yourself, have a son or daughter counting down the days, or just want to relive the joy (and pain) of this teenage rite of passage, this week SHOP TALK talks to stylist Erica Wark about all things prom.

Erica is fresh off a media tour with VISA, who launched a free app called Plan’it Prom. The app aims to keep prom-goers (and their financiers) on budget by monitoring spending. Perhaps the most crucial part is the first step: a set budget. The app then manages all prom-related items, allotting a dollar amount for transportation, photos, etc.

All to say Erica has been in the trenches of prom planning for the past few weeks. Here’s what she has to say about traditions, trends, and money-saving tips.

On Delaney: Envied "Supertrash" dress, $310, The Shoe Company pumps $69.99, Le Chateau earrings $18, Le Chateau bracelets $25; On Caroline: Marshall's dress $49.99, The Shoe Company pumps $79.99, Le Chateau bracelet $18. Click on photo for more images. Photo by Eric Watters

SHOP TALK: What are the big trends for prom 2013?
Erica Wark: Embellishment is everywhere this prom season; try it with jewels, lace overlay or even applique. For colours, I love cobalt blues, bold tangerines and corals, or softer hues like mint and sea foam, blush and off-white. In terms of hem length my advice is do what works for you; if you’ve got great legs show them off with a shorter dress; if you’re looking for uber-glam, go long! You can even do the high-low hem, and have the best of both!

For guys, it’s an easy choice — go with a tux. A classic black and white look in a slimmer fit with a bowtie is right on trend this spring.

ST: If you were going to prom this year, what would you wear?
EW: Haha, oh to be young again. There are so many more options now than there were 10 years ago. I’d probably do a fabulous long dress in a bold colour with cut-out or sheer paneled details a-la-Rihanna.

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SHOP TALK: Sussex shuffle and other ByWard Market changes

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Last week, we brought you news of retail changes in the trendy shopping districts of Westboro/Wellington West. This week, we turn our eyes to the ByWard Market. On the tony strip of Sussex Drive, any murmurings of change generally involve speculation of how the National Capital Commission, being the landlord for many of these storefronts, might have played a role.  Us, we aren’t even going to speculate! Sometimes we ask interview subjects about the reasons for closing or the ins and out of their lease agreements. But no one wants to talk about the NCC. Any anyway, there’s enough to talk about this spring, and many new spaces to explore.

Mellow par Melissa Bolduc closed earlier this year. Photo by Sarah Fischer.

Mellow closes
457 Sussex Dr.
We spoke with the Montreal-based designer behind this unique line last summer. Since then, they have closed shop. (Insert speculative gossip.)  Apparently, they are looking for another location in Ottawa because they were having such success. We loved what they did with the Sussex space — let’s hope they bring their minimalist-industrial style to another storefront soon.

Stunning opens
6 York St.
Mandy Gosewich, former manager of Michael Kors in the Rideau Centre, is opening Stunning, a shop foraccessories, and then some.” We hear May 22 is the opening date. Mandy comes from a long line of retailers, and has contributed to the development of a couple other local boutiques in the past year. So far she’s planning on bringing in Sibilia from Buenos Aries, By Boe from New York, Rita D from Toronto, and Charlotte Hosten from Montreal.

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THE INSIDER: Sarah Fischer and other flower fans on BULB, the new artist market at Tulip Fest

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Keen SHOP TALK readers who also frequent craft fairs might already be hip to the fact that ST’s own Sarah Fischer is the force behind Sarah’s Card Company, a small gift card business featuring original nature-inspired photography. This week, Sarah brings her unique insight as a craft-show-hopping entrepreneur to the discussion as we get to know the Tulip Festival‘s new initiative BULB.

Tulips galore! Sarah's Card Company sells cards featuring her own nature-inspired photography.

The Big Urban Living Boutique will showcase over twenty artists, ranging from fashion designers to photographers, soap makers to jewellers. Taking place over two Saturdays (May 4 and 11), Sarah notes that BULB’s location at City Hall (aka Tulip Plaza) guarantees a solid stream of shoppers.

“Plus, it’s always nice when new events pop up in the city, especially ones that are a part of such a historical Ottawa festival like the annual Tulip Festival. It is such a great fit for Sarah’s Card Company and a great way for Ottawans and visitors to our beautiful city to take a part of the festival home with them.”

~ Sarah Fischer, Sarah’s Card Company

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THE Q&A: Rania Abdulla’s menswear line offers classic (and colourful!) options for the metro male

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

This week at alt-runway show Fashion Art Toronto, Ottawa native Rania Abdulla launches her menswear line Pairing Paisleys by The Wardobe Stylist. That’s right, menswear! At SHOP TALK we have always applauded stand-out mens fashion, so were excited to hear that Rania was striking out into what can be a void of blacks, blues, and bow-ties. And the timing is excellent: as period dramas recall dandy dressers and the slim-fit trousers continue to dominate the runways, menswear is gaining traction.

Indeed, with the launch of Pairing Paisleys, Rania calls for gentleman to make a comeback, offering them baroque blazers, fitted trousers, dress shirts, capes, and bold paisley prints. Here, we talk to the designer about the line.

Rania Abdulla

SHOP TALK: Why a menswear a collection?
Rania Abdulla: Why not? Womenswear is so saturated, but when it comes to menswear there isn’t as much to choose from. I feel men have been left out because women are the bigger spenders, but men need to dress too, and dress well.

ST: Will we be able to buy the collection in Ottawa?
RA: For the time-being, the collection will only be available for purchase in NYC, Miami, and L.A. for wholesale orders. Hopefully some Ottawa boutiques will see the collection and want to house it in their locations.

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TREND WATCHING: Our take on see-through Oxfords, Technicolour pythons, and other spring shoes

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Three unique trends were recently identified in FASHION Magazine’s spring accessories report: see-through plastic inserts, bright python prints, and woven natural fibres in a range of colours. While clutches are cool and bangles a bold way to add bite to an outfit, let’s face it, shoes are where it’s at. Herewith, our take on these three trends — and where you can step into some of this style right here in Ottawa.

Stuart Weitzman, $195. Available at Holt Renfrew.

Clear panels: We’ll pass on this whacky look. FASHION calls it a way to “lend lightness to polished metallics and patent leathers” but it seems clunky and confusing to us. Plus it reminds us of the coveted pair from the infamous “Shoes” vid. Or maybe we are biased because there is still so much grit on O-town streets to even consider such slick kicks. But there’s no denying that the Stella McCartney wedge featured is a winner.

In town: Stuart Weitzman has a similar style, and in nude this shoe would be both versatile and trendy, so a wise choice for the savvy shoe-aholic. $195, Holt Renfrew.

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