Retailer Feature: Citizen Clothing | Victoria, BC
** this interview was originally featured on CUT & SHOW on 25 April 2012
"I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO OWN MY OWN STORE. I HAVE GREAT PASSION FOR THIS INDUSTRY, AND I LOVE THAT IT IS ALWAYS CHANGING, ALWAYS GROWING, AND ALWAYS DEVELOPING."
- PATRICK TIER
This week we rang up Patrick Tier, a savvy business owner of a contemporary men’s boutique called Citizen Clothing in Victoria, BC. We discussed his career and experience within the industry and how he started his store.
Tell us a little about how you started Citizen Clothing and how you got into the business.
PT: I have always wanted to own my own store. I have great passion for this industry, and I love that it is always changing, always growing, and always developing. After working in the industry for 20 years, I knew it was time to make this reality. I have had the opportunity to work with many different employers and individuals, and I also had the amazing opportunity to work as the sales director for Zegna. I guess from all of that it just took off.
It’s funny how it all got started. I often go on walks with my wife and daughter. We would always find great things for in our community, but when it came to men’s fashion, there was nothing for me. We always wanted to open a men’s boutique and wanted to have a store in Oak Bay, not downtown. When I finally noticed the perfect spot, I knew it was time to do it, and now we are two years in and loving it.
How did you come up with the name for your store?
PT: The name was actually not my first choice. My wife initially suggested it. We were sitting at home watching a cooking show on TV and heard that a restaurant in Toronto was called Citizen Kane. My wife said she loved the name, but I wasn’t impressed. After giving it some more thought, however, I quickly changed my mind. The name also gives a very inclusive feeling. Right then, I knew it was the perfect name for the store.
We really played around with the font and found the optics really worked for the name, and that was it.
How would you describe your typical client?
PT: People always ask me what my demographic is, but I correct them because it is not my demographic; it is more my psychographic. We have a wide array of clientèle, from the younger men who are coming in to shop for their grad outfits to the more mature man who may have stopped in to shop for his trip to Europe. We have recently been seeing fathers and sons who come in and shop together, which is rare, but it’s great to see them having such a fantastic time.
The men who are coming to shop with us are not just experiencing the clothing but also the environment, and there is not a specific category for them. We have a very focused edit when it comes to our store, and being a destination shop, we do have to have a “sense of self.” When our clients find that the edit fits them, they always come back.
You must see a lot of brands. What are some of your favourite brands to buy? And why?
PT: This is always such an interesting question, and some brands came to mind when I saw it. As corny as it sounds, it’s more about the fusion of putting brands together and the excitement we get when we launch new brands for our clientèle.
Recently, my favourites have been Billy Reid, Barbour, and Baldwin, which is a denim company out of Kansas. But it just brings me back to saying that even with all the great brands, it’s the excitement of putting it all together for our clients that I love. Most of my clients don’t just buy brands—they are looking for a certain aesthetic, and when we get it right, that’s what excites me.
It’s funny when my clients come in and joke and say, “You must have a ton of clothes,” but I am such a minimal guy. If I had a uniform, typically it would be me in a pair of jeans, a white shirt paired with a black jacket, and the brand I really identify with would be Denham from Amsterdam. They take classic pieces, and they give them an extremely modern aesthetic, and what’s unique is all the detailing that goes into each piece.
There are many options for consumers these days. Not only competition within your own city, but now you have to deal with big-box stores, pop-up shops, and flash sales, or your customers are commuting to Vancouver. How do you keep your customers coming back to your store?
PT: The two most important things to us are building relationships with our clientèle and the service we provide to our clients. My least favourite word is “customer.” They are clients, and if they aren’t, we do everything we can to make them a client. It seems like recently in the industry there has been a loss of the core values of good customer service and the experience a client should receive when they are shopping. We want to maintain those values and make sure we provide excellent service.
We recently saw you in Vegas. Where do you do most of your buying?
PT: I really enjoy going to these trade fares, and we were in Vegas to see the new styles for our existing brands. It’s great for us in the industry that we can go anywhere in the world to purchase goods for our stores. I have traveled a lot to Europe and New York to scout brands and, of course, locally I am in Vancouver for some buying also.
Since we also have a sister store, which is a ladies boutique called Public Boutique, it gives me a chance to also see amazing brands for women.
Now that brings us to our last question. What kind of online presence do you have with Citizen clothing? How important has social media been for you?
PT: Social media is extremely important to us. At first, I did not understand it as much as I should have, so I didn’y put forward the due time and effort into it. Now you can see that social media is very important, very democratic, and there is an accountability to the effort you put into social media. Going forward, the future is social media, and you should consider it as a necessary investment.
It is fascinating to watch how plugged in everyone is. You can find us on Twitter, and we also have our Facebook pages.
2541 Estevan Ave
Interview by - Vedika Solecki