CALGARY, Alberta – Holt Renfrew is known for being expertly curated: buyers cull the best of fashion, beauty, and accessories for their dedicated and discerning shoppers. The luxury department store has now taken that skill and applied it to a new line of exclusive products.

Yesterday marked the launch of SWAG—an in-store boutique designed specifically for Calgary’s oil and gas industry. The items featured in the new boutique are revolutionary for many reasons. Moving away from high end, fashionable apparel, Holt is boldly targeting a new client base: middle to older aged oil and gas professionals who can’t be bothered to shop for clothes.

sales lady
Alexandra Weston

If you’ve worked in downtown Calgary for any length of time, you have certainly seen these people in the +15 systems. This group is almost exclusively all male, middle-aged and older, whose entire wardrobe is made up of free swag from Calgary energy companies. We want to draw this group into our store.

Our new line features your typical golf shirt, jacket or what have you, emblazoned with your logo of choice. We have partnered with a number of Calgary oil companies and service companies to offer this unique line to our downtown Calgary clientele. –  says Alexandra Weston, Holt Renfrew’s Director of Brand Strategy, and the project lead.

The shop will also feature a selection of stationery, also customizable with a company logo of your choice. The SWAG pilot boutique will open later this week at Holt Renfrew’s CORE location in Calgary. Once established, Holt may take this model to other markets in Toronto and Vancouver. The full shop will open at the Calgary location this fall.

Wolf Rickenbacher

Well it’s about time that Holt put together something for guys like me, who aren’t into fashion so much, but just want to wear something comfortable and promote some companies at the same time. To be honest with you, the only clothing I’ve purchased the last 22 years working in the core are 3 pairs of shoes and 4 pairs of slacks – that’s it. Everything else I wear, including my winter parka, was provided by the companies I work for or from vendors, and I didn’t pay a dime for any of it. I just hope this new Holt SWAG place carries Stormtech, because I have an affinity to that brand. – Wolf Rickenbacher, Area Engineer, Bendovus Energy

But rival luxury retailer Harold Rosenbergsteiner does not see the logic in the business model adopted by Holt Renfrew. Joshua Lieberwitz, general manager of the Harold’s CORE location store says, “So oil and gas professionals get this stuff for free from their companies and the vendors they use, yet Renfrew thinks that it’s a good idea to try and make people pay for the very same stuff? I don’t have a Ph.D. in finance or business administration, but that doesn’t sound like a solid plan to me. What’s next, are they going to spray some Chanel No. 5 on the free Metro commuter newspapers, put them in a boutique, and sell them for a toonie each?”


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