What went down at the TL Insider x Quartz Co. salon on the future of retail 

What went down at the TL Insider x Quartz Co. salon on the future of retail 

In early December, Toronto Life Insider brought together the city’s foremost fashion thought leaders for a contemporary salon at the sleek new Quartz Co. pop-up store in Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The dinner, which included a lively roundtable discussion, was hosted by Ken Hunt, president and publisher at St. Joseph Communications, and Jean-Philippe Robert, CEO of Quartz Co.

The evening took its inspiration from intellectual salons that were all the rage in 18th-century Paris, when the brightest thinkers would gather to discuss and debate the pertinent issues of their time.

The curated guest list reflected a mixture of business and the arts. During a welcome cocktail reception sponsored by Ren Vodka guests, including CAFA president Vicky Milner, television journalist Glen Baxter, fashion photographer Carlyle Routh, Hello Canada editor-in-chief Alison Eastwood and Toronto Life editor-in-chief Sarah Fulford mingled over canapés while browsing the selection of winter jackets, shoes and accessories from Quartz Co. and Want Les Essentiels.

After introductions from Hunt and Robert, guests took their seats at a long table for a spirited dinner conversation moderated by Donna Bishop, creator and host of Fashion Talks. The evening’s topics included sustainability in fashion, the evolution of retail, digital transformation, and the innovations that will change shopping forever.

Bishop opened the conversation with Francis Guindon, VP of marketing at Quartz Co., who discussed omnichannel marketing and ‘phigital’ experiences, which are a blend of in-person and virtual customer touch-points with a brand.

The conversation then steered to Zoe Innanen, fashion product marketing specialist at Harry Rosen, and Sophia Sidiropoulos, fashion office coordinator at Holt Renfrew, who described how department stores have navigated the pandemic’s retail challenges, and how they used the bleak period when brick-and-mortar stores were closed to drive innovation and push experimentation. The department stores launched e-commerce and also introduced QR codes on the shop floor for a seamless transition between IRL and digital shopping experiences.

Bernadette Morra, editor-in-chief of FASHION Magazine, chimed in on the importance of retail stores as a space for transformative experiences, which Quartz Co. CEO Robert whole-heartedly agreed to, while also emphasizing the importance of being on the cutting-edge of sustainability and offering products that last. Jacqueline Loch, EVP Customer Innovation at St. Joseph Communications talked about the evolving customer journey, customer expectations and the changing definition of luxury.

Rounding out the discussion, Gina Yoo, founder of innovative tech start-up and white-glove styling service Mannr, represented the forefront of digital innovation in the room, explaining how brands need to reach customers where they are, while on-air personality Lisa Kisber emphasized advocating for the value within every product. “There’s a customer out there for every product,” she added.

At the end of the evening, guests worked their way around the store, trying on Quartz Co.’s latest collection of puffers and winter parkas and admiring the selection of fine leather accessories while also enthusiastically continuing their dinner conversations on the future of the industry. Quartz Co. is working on exciting new projects for 2022, including amazing designer collaborations, and new pop-up openings in fashion cities across the world.

The Quartz Co. pop-up will be running at Yorkdale Shopping Centre until January 2022.