Vancouver-based lifestyle brand Herschel Supply Co. soft-opened its first North American flagship on the edge of the historic Gastown, steps from the high-traffic Seabus Terminal. The 5,000-square-foot space at 347 Water Street location is one of the rare retail spaces that have not been broken down over the decades. Customers can walk in off Water Street, walk to the back and view the rail yards, the inlet, and the North Shore mountains.
Co-founder Lyndon Cormack gave me a personal walk-through to share the detailing of the incredible space. He explained “Gastown is the only place in the city where you will find locals and tourists unite, everyone comes together from all over. We really wanted to celebrate this diversity of where people are from and all walks of life, within the store.”
The product selection is extensive. On display are 782 backpacks, and thousands of wallets, caps, fanny packs, totes, duffel bags, and luggage sets. “Everything we do is about travel. We are so inspired about going to new places and discovering new things,” says Cormack.
Striking design features are incorporated throughout, such as large-scale digital screens, central ‘infinity’ room, sculptural bricks walls with 500 layers of paint, forged aluminum racks and chairs, and an ‘explosive’ metal alloy cash counter. Each element reflects the vision of the brand, its hometown, and the heritage of the building.
The store was designed by Omer Arbel, the Creative Director of Bocci, the design and manufacturing house based in Vancouver and Berlin. Known for his stunning architecture and industrial design projects, Herschel Supply Gastown marks Arbel’s first venture into retail design.
“We knew we didn’t want a traditional retail experience from the beginning. We wanted something unique, and unique is what comes to mind when you think of Omer,” explained Cormack. “He brought in some unexpected elements that we might not have considered, which is refreshing. This space will show our consumers what we care a lot about as a brand: exploration, innovation, and storytelling.”
Near the Water Street entrance, a series of figurative sculptures commissioned from various artists across the Lower Mainland are on display which interprets the human form using a range of materials. Most striking of the figures is the macramé and woven sculptures by Diane Rudge. Depicting a woman and young girl, they are intricate and engaging. Together the two pieces are composed of over 10,000-feet of rope and 8 lbs and Canadian Wool. Other sculptures are of concrete, rattan, metal, and cedar.
Key aspects of the heritage building have been preserved, including the original maple flooring which stayed “gentle sloping with no breaks,” brickwork, and tin ceiling tiles. These are accented by modern elements such as an infinity mirror installation and 3D printed fixtures. While the previous elements are eye-catching, it is the change rooms that are mind-blowing. The pair is floor-to-ceiling marble – one mottled black with the other pink – with benches of solid marble blocks weighing thousands of lbs each. At the evening thank-you meeting for supporters and influencers, there was a line-up to get the perfect Instagram shot in these rooms!
Herschel Supply Co. was founded in 2009 by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, who named their company after the small town where three generations of their family were raised. Today their products are sold in over 70 countries worldwide with the support of over 200 employees across offices in Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
The Grand Opening of Herschel Supply Gastown took place on Saturday, June 16th at 10 am. Among other opening day gifts and giveaways, the first 200 people through the door received a free piece of carry-on luggage. Word has it that the line-up began at 2 am!
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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