While they’ve had to put their plans of a monthly Toronto pop-up experience on hold for the time being, the founders of Victoire boutique remain focused on bringing Canadian design to their customers, whether it’s a pair of stellar earrings for a video call or a seriously soft sweatshirt for a Netflix binge. Co-owners Katie Frappier and Régine Paquette are still putting new pieces online each week, and they’ve thought of an inclusive, quarantine-appropriate concept for getting goods up for all to see.
“We want to try and keep updating our website every Friday as usual, but obviously once physical distancing protocols came into effect, we were trying to think of ways to still keep this going without having to use our designer’s pictures since so much of what makes Victoire’s e-comm site us is that we shoot on non-models—they’re people we know and admire,” says Frappier. “Then we had the idea that some of the local photographers we know might be at home and quarantined with their partner, and might be into the idea of a creative shoot at home. We’ve approached a couple of photographers, the first of whom is our usual Ottawa-based photographer Stephanie Godin; she shot on her partner Pascal Huot in their home.”
Paquette notes that the shop’s usual way of photographing new wares has been especially helpful during quarantine. “Katie and I were saying that it’s kind of perfect that we’ve always shot our products in our own or our friend’s homes,” she says. “It makes it easy to see how almost anything can be worn even while lounging.” Right now, Victoire has a varied selection of WFH goodies like jumpsuits; in particular, Paquette calls out Birds of North America’s Bobwhite style—“It’s so comfortable, it feels made for these times; it’s also easy to guesstimate your size and buy online since it’s so flowy”— as well as Dagg & Stacey’s Cricket jumpsuit, which is done in a “custom-printed soft-washed jersey.”
But just because Frappier and Paquette want you to be comfortable doesn’t mean they don’t want you to have a little fun, too. “We’ve been encouraging our customers to get dressed up even if they’re just staying home, and to tag us so that we can give them a virtual high five for looking super cute—and seeing their faces, which we miss so much,” says Paquette. “They can use the hashtags #goingnowherebutfuckitimgettingdressed and #dressuptocheerup. We’ve been reposting the pics so our customers can see them and get inspired by how others are dressing while at home.”
Though we’ll still be playing dress up in private for another few weeks at least, Paquette is optimistic that once the crisis is over, there will be plenty of change in both the fashion industry and customer’s attitudes towards style. “I’ve heard that some people are expecting many things that were slowly evolving in our industry—in terms of buying more sustainably, more ethical and environmental production processes, people favouring local brands and shops over multinationals—to now be accelerated and more top of mind for customers,” she says. “We’re really hopeful that that’s true. It’s certainly made our value proposition clearer, and how important supporting Canadian businesses is to the overall health of the Canadian economy. I’m also hoping that now that we’ve gone without a lot of the social interactions we take for granted, that people will value even more than before knowing their local shopkeepers, restauranteurs and grocers, and how critical they are to creating the neighbourhoods we want to live in. On a more superficial level, we’re hoping that being quarantined for so long will mean that people will really want to have fun with fashion when this is over, and say to heck with any self-perceived fashion rules or do’s and don’ts, and just go all out.”
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