As a kid growing up in the suburbs of a big city in Canada, there were not very many “fancy” stores that my mom would take me to. Just about the fanciest we would be allowed to venture into was The Bay, often called Canada’s Department store. Up until recently, it’s been the only real option for mid-range Department stores here in Canada – although the retail scene here is quickly changing as we are getting lots of large American stores making their way across the border. For our American readers, the closest comparison I can give you of the Bay is a Macy’s.
I don’t remember much about The Bay from when I was a kid other than this blanket we had that was cream colored with five stripes on it. I thought it was terrible as a kid, awful even, and as I grew up and realized there were “cooler” places to shop, those five-stripe designs quickly became a sign of “Mom, why do we have to shop there? So-and-so gets their clothes at the Gap“. That blanket disappeared (likely into someone’s donation bin for the Salvation Army) and never thought of again.
Fast forward a few years though and in 2009 they started selling higher-end and more avant-garde designer clothes at their in-store boutique in Toronto, the Room, expanded to Vancouver in 2011; and in July 2013, The Bay bought legendary American high-end retail store Saks Fifth Avenue. Apparently Canadians have loads of money to spend on higher end designer wares as the Bay prepares to battle for our loonies with Nordstrom making a huge play in the market.
The strangest thing that happened to me though was as I was flipping through a magazine the other day and saw a full-page spread on those five-colored striped blankets which had now morphed into a clothing line with items designed by real designers like Erdem. Er- what?
So seeing as The Bay is North America’s longest continuously operated company (it started way back in 16 something) and the five-stripes are suddenly cool again, here are a whole bunch of items that are apparently the oldest North American historical trend revisited… Because it’s not too often that North Americans can bring back something nearly 500 years old and say it was all our own.