Vancouver-based lifestyle label Herschel Supply will open its first North American store in Gastown on June 16.
Situated at 347 Water Street, the 5,000-square-foot flagship carries the world’s largest selection of the company’s minimally marked goods, which includes backpacks, messenger bags, luggage, and accessories like wallets, hats, and laptop sleeves. There’s also an assortment of kid-sized backpacks and men’s and women’s apparel, like water-resistant jackets and fleece pullovers.
Designed by Omer Arbel, a Vancouver-based artist who also serves as creative director of Bocci, the shop features an infinity-room installation, large screens broadcasting “daily non-events”—scenes from a beach, for example—around Vancouver, and a sculptural forged-aluminum cash desk inspired by the Bocci 44, a coralesque lighting fixture produced by the manufacturing studio.
There’s also a parade of humanlike figures exhibited at the front of the store—some sculpted from stone, some basket-woven, some carved from cedar, and so on—that Herschel commissioned from various Canadian artists.
“It’s just celebrating craft and, without being overly cheesy, it’s celebrating cool, amazing artisans who are just thought-provoking, interesting,” Lyndon Cormack, who launched Herschel with his brother Jamie nine years ago, tells the Straight during a tour of the shop.
The company has taken care to preserve original design elements of the heritage building, such as the maple flooring, brickwork, and faux-tin ceiling tiles. The back windows, however, have been replaced with a floor-to-ceiling sliding-door system that offers shoppers an unobstructed view of the North Shore mountains and rail yards.
Each of Herschel’s product categories are displayed in dedicated spaces, with walls of backpacks greeting guests and luggage housed toward the back. Cormack hopes that the flagship will allow customers to learn more about the brand, while showcasing its passions: design, art, and architecture.
“There are so many people in the world who carry our products,” he says. “And I think it’s nice to have a reference point to other things we care about, things we’re not trying to sell.”
The Railtown-headquartered retailer has plans to open more stores in North America, though locations and timelines have yet to be confirmed. The Gastown flagship opens on June 16 at 10 a.m. The first 200 people through the door will nab a free piece of carry-on luggage.
Herschel, which takes its name from the tiny Saskatchewan town where three generations of the Cormacks’ family were raised, first burst onto the accessories scene in 2009, when its canvas backpacks became the tote of choice for university undergrads and hipsters seemingly overnight. The company is affiliated with a number of retail storefronts in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, though the Gastown flagship is the first store that Herschel owns and operates.