Arc’teryx: Retail Storytelling

Arc’teryx concept shop | BCBusiness
The look of Arc’teryx’s new concept shops.

No longer just a quaint North Shore brand, Arc’teryx is rolling out flagships around the world

Storytelling is the drive behind Arc’teryx Equipment Inc.’s entry into retail, as the manufacturer of outdoor and climbing equipment and clothing launches flagship stores around the world.

Adam Ketcheson, global vice-president and senior director of marketing and business-to-consumer for the company, says the stores are an essential response to the brand’s growth, citing the company’s double-digit, profitable growth every year for the past 20 years. “People still think of us as being a startup, but the brand has become so globally significant that it’s time to take our game to the next level.”

Each store will provide the opportunity to showcase the brand in its entirety, says Ketcheson, and, more importantly, to help tell the Arc’teryx story. “Ten years ago you’d be climbing and bump into someone wearing Arc’teryx and they would essentially tell you the brand story right there on the crag, because they had experienced the product or the kid who sold them the product told it to them.” As the brand grows, however, it’s a bigger challenge to define the conversation surrounding it in the marketplace, he says. “The story starts really tight, but as it’s passed from consumer to consumer you get a broken-telephone game. You get to a place where people are just like, ‘Oh, Arc’teryx is the expensive brand,’ as opposed to, ‘Arc’teryx is the super hard-built, quality, hard-wearing, performance brand.’ So we have to tell that story.”

The goal of the new stores is largely to reach a new customer base, not to cannibalize the brand’s existing business through the myriad retailers that carry the company’s clothing. “The vast, vast, vast majority of this business will continue to be wholesale,” notes Ketcheson, adding that there are opportunities in cities where some of Arc’teryx’s retail partners can’t afford to set up shop. He points to the new Arc’teryx shop in Shanghai and one opening in London’s Covent Garden as examples.

Arc’teryx’s line of street clothing is a top growth area, says Ketcheson, but he emphasizes that “even as we take a step towards also surrounding the consumer when they’re off the hill, we’re going to fight like crazy to ensure we’re constantly giving them the best stuff for on the hill.”