Gravitypope is a destination, nay, an institution for shoes in Canada. Founded in Edmonton in 1990 the store expanded to Calgary and Vancouver (pictured above), then added apparel, quickly dominating the fashion scene in Western Canada. In November 2012 gravitypope made its first eastward expansion opening in Toronto’s hip Queen West neighbourhood (pictured below). The store boasts two floors chalk full of expertly curated shoes, clothing and accessories. Brands include Acne, Isabel Marant and MM6. The sales team is painfully fashionable, witty, and well informed – seriously guys, stop it! Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the store to educate them on Coclico’s design and ethos, only to find they already knew it all, and more, it seems that gravitypope and Coclico have a symbiotic relationship.
I recently had chance to sit down a with the incredibly stylish and capable owner/buyer, Louise Dirks, and pick her brain on everything from furniture to music, and of course… shoes.
Your style in six words or less: clean – simple – strong – functional – uniform
How do you incorporate sustainability into your day-to-day routine? For all my needs, I try to buy wisely. I like to find the very best available in the market, save up for it, and once purchased, care for it and use it for a very long time.
Your style theme song? It changes but right now it is pretty much any song by ‘The National”
Your first major, big-ticket style purchase? I can’t remember exactly. Once I started, it became easier and easier to buy the next purchase and so on. Some of my favorites that I have had for years and still wear are my Marni dresses, my Chloe mohair coat, a black Burberry dress, A Chloe bag, a Martin Margiela sweater, my Church’s brogue boots.
Your most surprising fashion find? A mint condition floral tapestry Elsa Schiaparelli briefcase
You recently opened in Toronto, congrats! Have you been able to bring the same assortment into this new location or does the Toronto customer have different needs than your West Coast customer? I am only beginning to discover the variances in the East and West Coast customer. I have learned if they like something, they really like it and we sell a lot! And if they don’t like it, it does not sell at all. So far, I have discovered Eastern shoppers are a discerning, stylish group looking for new, exciting unique brands as well as good old standbys. They want good service in a stylish environment. All that said, we are only starting to discover the differences. It is not an easy thing to decipher or translate; however, it is fun and exciting to discover the nuances of this new market. We always tweak the product in each store based on the city, and as we grow in Toronto we will tweak accordingly.
What do you consider when choosing shoe styles for the shop? I look for clean lines, simple styling, good fit, quality materials and leathers and craftsmanship. I look for styles that can be worn and loved for many years. I look for simple designs that stand the test of time. I love innovation, purity, quality, and understated sophistication. I also look for commercial products and the latest trends to satisfy a wide range of consumers.
What do you love most about the business? I love working together with people to discover and promote creativity and style.
How did you get started? Starting a boutique takes a certain amount of courage; what made you take the leap? I have always loved fashion and I enjoyed working retail when first out of high school. While studying clothing and textiles in University, I became involved in an import shop and started travelling, buying artisanal goods from Morocco, Turkey, Guatemala, Mexico, South America, India and Nepal. I loved buying, importing, merchandising and selling these products. At one point we started importing footwear. This led to opening gravitypope in 1990. I filled the shop with footwear from trade shows I would frequent in London, New York, Germany and Italy while on my way to Morocco, India or some other exotic country. When I found things I liked, I bought them, shipped them and customs cleared them myself. Our eclectic mix of product gave gravitypope a unique flavour in the marketplace. People loved the new exciting brands we would bring in and this inspired me to bring in more! So in fact, ‘the leap’ was more like a slow progression. One thing led to another. That has been the history of the past 24 years of gravitypope. The growth has been very organic and natural. Slow and steady.
What inspires you outside of fashion? I love furniture and lighting design. I like all eras of design from Renaissance to Contemporary. Right now, I covet pieces from BDDW, Piet Hein Eek, and Poul Henningsen. I am also inspired by antiques. I have collections of jewellery boxes, dolls and statues. I love the romantic history attached to these treasures. I love gardening. The planting of a seed and watching it grow into a fantastic bloom is the ultimate inspiration.
What are 5 things you are loving for Fall 2013? 1. Chunky heel ankle boots in rich earth tone brown or dark green full grain leathers; 2. Wool and cashmere cardigans (Sophie D’Hoore, Antipast, Creatures of Comfort); 3. Thick merino wool pattern tights (Anitpast mallard duck tights, Falke perfect merino tights); 4. Rigid full skirts (Jil Sander Navy olive wool full skirt). 5. Oversized mohair ¾ length bubble coats (Paul Smith, Veronique Branquinho, Jil Sander Navy).
Would you put together an outfit for us using your favourite current Coclico style and other favourites from this season’s gravitypope curation?
1) Super Future Sunglasses Ciccio 2) Peter Jensen Chunky Geelong Pullover 3) Etoile Isabel Marant Aloe Top 4) Acne Romantic piqué cotton skater skirt 5) A.P.C. Bag 6) COCLICO Kia bootie 7) Falke Soft Merino Tights