#TBT: Le Château, Then and Now

The 1990s mall must-stop gets a makeover


In 1999, I bought my first pair of dark, flared jeans at Le Château, which was, at the time, a must-stop for mall-goers and a mainstay for playful clothes and interesting spins on classic styles.

Following a foray into clubwear—jumpsuits, fedoras, electric hues and platform heels—in the mid-2000s, Le Château is now taking a more polished approach, appealing to both twenty-somethings and forty-somethings alike, with pieces ranging from moto jackets to chic, Italian-made suits. And there’s a massive store reno program underway to reflect the retailer’s new direction.

The new Le Château concept store at the Carrefour Laval shopping centre (just outside of Montreal) that I visited earlier this month is the third to be remodeled under the new direction, with twelve other Canadian stores to follow suit by the end of 2015. Its wide, grand entrance gives way to high ceilings, bright lights, and a well-curated rainbow of colourful goods, organized by lifestyle categories—work wear, casual wear, evening wear and special occasion.

This transformation is a welcome change from Le Château stores of yesteryear, when the products were—according to Shawn Schmidt, national director of visual presentation for the retailer—“packed so closely together, you could barely tell what was there. Things got lost in the mix.” (I can’t help but agree.)

He grins proudly as he points to Le Château 2.0’s most notable changes: a perfect grid of shelves showcasing women’s purses; sleek, glass tables stacked with crisply folded t-shirts; a boutique featuring dozens upon dozens of shoes arranged by style. It’s a store you’ll want to shop in again—and one that’s ready to reclaim a spot in our hearts and closets. —Alex Brown

Check out these old Le Château ads: