“Kind of meant to be,” is how Saager Dilawri describes the newest evolution of Neighbour, the group of men’s and women’s boutiques he launched in Vancouver in 2011. Neighbour is known for its roster of covetable brands and a contemporary, understated aesthetic that, fittingly, comes across as effortless and meant to be. With storefronts in Toronto and Gastown, as well as a strong online presence, 51 Powell Street focuses on homeware, objects, and visionary labels.
“So many of our designers do more than clothing or have a bigger vision than just five, six garments on a rack,” Dilawri says. The new space, just next door to the women’s Gastown outlet, is more of a showroom than a shop, designed to showcase a designer’s concept in a deeper way, rather than mingle their pieces among others in the store.
51 Powell Street is an opportunity to expand what Neighbour sells—homeware, magazines, books, and furniture pieces are all available here. As with clothing, which Dilawri tends to source in small batches and from hard-to-find labels, the objects on offer at 51 Powell Street are, for the most part, unique to Vancouver: everything from vintage objects purchased at a flea market in Brussels (Neighbour operates a “Found By Neighbour” line of one-of-a kind pieces), to artisanal chairs made by New York label Green River Project LLC.
In addition to offering more space, 51 Powell Street is a chance to change the format of shop events beyond the standard DJ and drinks model. “I always found it hard to do a party at the shop, because we have so much stuff in there,” says Dilawri. “What else can we do, beyond that? This seems like a nice opportunity to play around with the space and see how it goes.”
There is also talk of photography shows and film screenings—in fact, Dilawri anticipates such an array of cozy, community-focused activities in the space, he is in the process of commissioning floor pillows. And that sense of community is certainly on brand for Neighbour, which tends to operate with a recognizable stable of photographers, models, and labels: the next pop-up planned here will showcase Kinda Sleepwear, a local brand operated by current Neighbour employee Jessye Ashworth. UK-based Tender, run by Central Saint Martins graduate William Kroll (described by Dilawri as a “fashion scientist”) will follow.
So far, 51 Powell Street appears to be a happy experiment. “It has kind of worked out … it is really a flex space,” Dilawri says, noting that the plan is to really concentrate on creating special events. “What can we do to give us something else to talk about?”
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