Fashionably late: H&M arrives in Ottawa

Jenna Farrell is a recruitment and communications professional with a passion for Ottawa’s fashion and fitness communities. An Ottawa Valley girl at heart, Jenna and her husband live in Hintonburg where they enjoy Ottawa’s best dinner spots, local beers and donuts (she especially likes the donuts). For more of Jenna’s writing, visit www.navyandgold.ca.

With the recent announcement of a $360 million dollar Rideau Centre expansion welcoming brands like J.Crew, Victoria’s Secret and Simons come 2016, H&M’s arrival at Bayshore Shopping Centre had Ottawa’s fashionistas pinching themselves this week.

The entrance of the new H&M location at Bayshore Shopping Centre. Photo by Alayna Wright.

The entrance of the new H&M location at Bayshore Shopping Centre. Photo by Alayna Wright.

Earlier this week, H&M hosted an exclusive opening where Ottawa’s fashion community (yes, this exists, naysayers) gathered over cocktails, music and shopping to celebrate the multi-national retail clothing company’s long awaited arrival in Ottawa. I got the chance to meet the lovely Emily Scarlett, director of communications for H&M Canada, and asked her a few pressing questions about the newest addition to our fashion scene.

 JF: Ottawa has a very conservative reputation in terms of style; will this reputation influence the merchandise H&M will bring to its new Ottawa location?

ES: H&M believes in offering customers the opportunity to dress their personality no matter what that is. We offer fashion and quality at the best price for the whole family, whether you are interested in the trendiest of fashion pieces or more basic fashion items. With new deliveries every single day, we pride ourselves in choice and diversity of offering, meaning our customers should be able to find something that fits their style personality whether they are a conservative dresser or a more outgoing fashion lover.

JF: What kind of merchandise can we expect from this H&M store in comparison to other H&M stores? 

Photo by Alayna Wright.

Photo by Alayna Wright.

ES: Eighty per cent of the range at H&M is the same across all stores and countries. We pride ourselves in maintaining a consistent feeling across store so that whether you are in Ottawa, Paris, Milan or Vancouver you will feel right at home when you come into H&M. We always want to be inviting and exciting for our customers, which is why we try to keep the range similar no matter which store or city you are in.

JF: With H&M locations found in smaller cities such as Hamilton and Cambridge, why did it take so long for H&M to come to Ottawa? 

Some of the men's collection and shoe display at the Bayshore H&M. Photo by Alayna Wright

Some of the men’s collection and shoe display at the Bayshore H&M. Photo by Alayna Wright

ES: Ottawa has been at the top of our wish list since we opened in Canada in 2004, but best location has been our expansion principal since the company was founded in 1947. What that means is that we would rather wait to open a store until we have found the best location to fit the brand. We need a minimum of 20,000 square feet for a new market store. We are thrilled that Bayshore Shopping Centre was able to bring us such a good space at almost 22,000 square feet where we could really showcase what H&M has to offer.

JF: It had been said that H&M would be the key tenant in the $360 million expansion of the Rideau Centre, why did this location change to the Bayshore Shopping Centre? 

ES: We have been waiting for the right location in Ottawa since we came to Canada in 2004. Bayshore was able to offer us a great space so we jumped at the chance to finally open a store in Ottawa. We see great potential in the Ottawa market and although we do not have a confirmed location at Rideau Centre right now it is definitely on our wish list of future locations in Ottawa.

Are you excited for the new H&M to open in Bayshore? Were you at this event with Jenna – share your best finds in the comments section!