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Ottawa luxury fashion gets a facelift

By Meg Marshall on January 20, 2015


As one fashion luxury door closes in Ottawa, a new one opens. The iconic Holt Renfrew, a Sparks Street fixture for the last 78 years, will be closing its doors for good on January 25th, 2015.  Nordstrom, a large high-end American department store, will be taking over the luxury fashion market in Ottawa and will be open for business on March 6, 2015 at Rideau Centre.  Fear not fashionistas, there will only be a six-week withdrawal where high-end designer labels won’t be easily accessible in the Ottawa area.

Holt RenfrewIt is a weird sight to see the once prestigious Holt Renfrew in a state of liquidation.  It currently looks like a bargain store where merchandising standards and aesthetics are thrown out the window. Customers weave in and out of the store, side stepping clothing strewn in every which way.

Holt Renfrew is known for carrying high-end brands and beautiful window displays. In its final days, the general public can purchase the store’s fixtures for next to nothing. If a mannequin bust, rolling rack, or glass display table is on your wishlist, then now is the time to get it.  The company itself is not going out of business, but they are closing a couple of select locations in Ottawa and Quebec City in an effort to streamline their operations in major markets such as Montreal and Toronto.

With Nordstrom opening inside the Rideau Centre, it will certainly have a much stronger shot at gaining more attention and being extremely accessible for customers and fashionistas to get to. The Mackenzie King Transitway station brings thousands of people through the area on a daily basis.  Holt Renfrew, located on Sparks, poses many challenges including limited operating hours (catered more towards the 9 to 5 business crowd) and lack of easy parking.


Brand selection shouldn’t be too different from one retailer to another. Both retailers are known for having brand boutiques within their department stores. Holt Renfrew in Ottawa houses a Tiffany, Links of London, Gucci, Burberry and various luxury cosmetic counters. It is yet to be determined what exact luxury brands the Ottawa Nordstrom location will have, but some locations in the US are known to have Prada, David Yurman, Gucci, Chanel and Dior.

As Holt Renfrew will undoubtedly ride off into the sunset, Nordstrom is entering the Ottawa market on a warm and fuzzy note with a charity gala event supporting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the United Way of Ottawa.  The charity event takes place on March 4th, two days prior to the official grand opening.

Meg Marshall is a horse loving fashionista who enjoys documenting her quirky adventures on