Canadian fashion brand Joe Fresh, started by Joseph Mimran the founder of Club Monaco, has been dipping into the American market since this summer when it launched a pop-up in East Hampton. Next came an Upper East Side Madison Avenue pop-up store, and two other locations right outside of New York City. Finally, as of this week, there's a permanent location on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district.
The brand started out of Canadian supermarket chain Loblaws in 2006 (it's now available in over 330 stores across Canada). At the store opening, Mimran, who acts as Creative Director, sat with Elle's Joe Zee and told reporters, “My friends said I was nuts [when I had the idea for Joe Fresh]. That I would lend my name they said I was doubly nuts.” Five years later he is more confident. “I see world domination,” he said. “I always have, it’s just my nature.”
He takes the success of the brand as evidence that fashion has been fully democratized. “We went from the frozen food aisle to Fifth Avenue,” he said.
Many of the store's mantras come from supermarket business. “Price is paramount,” said Mimran. He added, “There is also this notion of fresh in a food store," he said, which inspired the store's weekly deliveries.
Fall offerings at Joe Fresh include $16 turtlenecks, $99 neoprene jackets and cashmere sweaters that start at just $69. There's currently a focus on wide leg pants, bubble coats and color. According to Mimran: "There are secrets when it comes to sourcing. Editing is our secret sauce.” He added, “There is not an item that goes through that I don’t touch." That includes over 5,000 styles a year in categories that range from cosmetics to women's fashion to kids clothes.
Mimran told us that he's seen the consumer change quite a bit since his days at Club Monaco: "I think they are way more price conscious than they have ever been. I also think the consumer is harder to convince today. They are a little bit more jaded than they were and it takes more to win their confidence. There is just so much choice out there. It's just more work."
As for his competitive set, Mimran insists: "I consider anyone with a sewing machine my competitor. I think it’s a very competitive market but at the same time I always think there is room. It’s a such fragmented market. It's an interested dichotomy."