PHOTO COURTESY OF DONNA ALBERICO
Many years ago, a young Canadian walked into a hip Toronto store on the rapidly emerging Queen Street West (now the established locale for Canadian fashion). He was taken by the style and vibe, he immediately begged for a job. The Canadian was TV personality and Elle creative director Joe Zee, and his "first fashion boss" (his words) was Joe Mimram, and the store was Club Monaco, Mimram's brainchild. Club Monaco nailed the market for the design-conscious shopper with a taste for minimalism. Both Zee and Mimram used the brand to launch their own careers, and now, after selling off his globally recognized stores to Polo (Mimram) and becoming a mainstream ambassador of fashion (Zee), the two have reconnected to bring Mimram's newest venture to the States.
To our northern neighbors, Joe Fresh is a familiar brand, defined by a tangerine orange and luxe but affordable basics. Joe Fresh's first foray into the US market opened in the Flatiron district this weekend, with a spacious, airy standalone clocking in at nearly 10,000 feet. "Acceptance in the New York market," explains Mimram, over coffee with Zee, "is absolutely crucial. It's a good runway into the international market." Joe Fresh offerings include futuristic orange neoprene dresses, chunky knit skirts, and faux-leather fringe minis at reasonable prices. (The dress, Zee explains, is straight off the runway.) The mass-market appeal doesn't put off either Zee or Mimram, who point to unusual fabrics and offbeat pieces like mega-wide-legged pants as a willingness to experiment in both menswear, womenswear and cosmetics. "The fashion here is very real and has integrity," Mimram explains.
After the worldwide success of Club Monaco, Mimram is confident about his venture down south. With next year bringing another Joe Fresh location—twice the size as the Flatiron offering and in the center of Midtown—Mimram is banking on Yankee acceptance, which Zee thinks will be a cinch. One hurdle Mimram anticipates is the city's uniform: "New Yorkers love their black," he says. "So I hope they'll be into a store with a little bit of extra color."