Sep 19

Street Style Huntress: Studio Intent Boutique

by Aldona Barutowicz · 0 comments

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To me it will always and forever be Fashion Central, even though the building has now gone back to its original name of The Alberta Block. Due to its Fashion roots, it’s no wonder that Studio Intent Boutique chose this building as their latest retail space, where they moved into just shy of a year ago.

The aesthetic of Studio Intent is chic, comfortable and Canadian made. Owner Chantal Barchard is dedicated to sustainable fashion and inspired by offering unique clothing that is made in our great country. She meets with designers in person to view their collections, and to purchase directly from them, versus going to trade shows to find new garments.

Barchard describes her personal style as minimalist, with a touch of draping and texture. Like the clothes available at her store, she wears pieces that are comfortable and made of natural fabrics. But of course, they also look good – as exampled with the outfit she wore for our street style huntress session – a beautifully classic and simple dress, adorned with a wonderful shawl wrap in an interesting colour. She adds ankle booties, that she borrowed from her mom, and minimal accessories to complete her ensemble.

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Can you tell us more about Studio Intent – why did you open the store? What was your inspiration? When did the store open? You recently changed locations to Fashion Central: how has the move been for you? 

I opened Studio Intent boutique in 2011, inspired by a desire to offer unique, Canadian Made clothing. I’ve had great boutique shopping experiences in other Canadian cities and abroad where I was able to find limited edition, sustainable clothing and wanted to have this accessible for myself and my customers in Calgary.

For our first two years, our boutique was in a great street level space in the Art Central complex. This provided a creative community and space to build our loyal customer following.  When we learned of the planned demolition of the Art Central complex, we immediately searched for another suitable downtown location.

In 2013, we moved to Stephen Ave and 1st SW and are now located on the lower level of the Alberta Block Building (formerly known as Fashion Central).  We have little visibility at street level; there are strict signage restrictions, which have unfortunately resulted in a drop in new customer traffic. However we focus on building trust and connection with our customers and we now have a very loyal base that believes in our message as strongly as we do. Our new intimate space allows us to offer very personalized service where we work with customers one-one to add pieces to their wardrobes, what we like to call a “style refresh.”

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What is your goal with Studio Intent, and what lines do you carry?

To share the amazing Canadian Made clothing lines we carry, most of which I purchase by directly meeting the designers in their studios each season, so I really get a sense of the stories/inspirations behind their collections:

  • Bano eeMee (Calgary)
  • BrokenDoll Clothing (Calgary)
  • Nicole Bridger (Vancouver)
  • We3 (Vancouver)
  • Miik (Toronto)
  • Dagg  & Stacey (Toronto)
  • Lux & Luster (Toronto)
  • Jennifer Glasgow (Montreal)
  • Valerie Dumaine (Montreal)
  • Eve Gravel (Montreal)
  • Yoga Jeans (Montreal)

Have you always wanted to work in fashion? What do you think sparked your interest in fashion?

Growing up, I did have an interest in fashion design; I still have books of fashion sketches I created in elementary school! I was not exposed to anyone who worked in fashion design as a career, so I pursued a more practical path, obtaining my business degree and becoming a Chartered Accountant. I worked in finance for most of my adult life but continued to seek out unique clothing as my career offered ample opportunity to travel abroad. My finance background then gave me the foundation to launch a business focused on my passion of Canadian Made and sustainable clothing.

Clothing has always been an important means of expression for me, so even though I worked in traditionally conservative office environments, I’ve always sought out ways to show my unique style – – I just could not bear the monoculture of navy blue suits!

In the past ten years, I’ve dabbled in sewing and clothing construction so I could alter my own clothing or create pieces all my own. This skill set has helped me immensely in selecting quality, unique Canadian Made clothing lines for my boutique. I was quite influenced by my mother – she was very resourceful and creative, sewing our clothing or buying the best quality we could afford. Clothing was always seen as a fun way to express oneself, to change your mood or feel polished for your day.

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How would you describe your personal style?

Minimalist with a touch of draping and texture. Living inner city, I walk a lot, so comfort and natural fabrics are key.

What are some of your influences when it comes to fashion?

I’m inspired by the SLOW FASHION movement which promotes more conscious consumption of clothing. Owning less but better quality clothing and loving every piece I own. I seek out unique garments that speak to me; not trends. Just like I care about where my food comes from/how it was grown, I look for sustainable clothing options; to connect with the story behind the pieces I own, learning about who made my clothing & where.

What are some of your favourite trends for Fall?

Tailored basics mixed with mod ankle boots, baggier trousers, textured leather jackets, boyfriend blazers.

What fashion advice would you give to others?

Buy fewer garments but look for higher quality, well made items. Take your time to pick out pieces that really speak to you. Go to stores that encourage you to choose wisely and that truly care about helping you find the right pieces for you.

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Where were you born and raised?

I was raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, with a very practical French Acadian background.

Why do you choose Calgary as your home? Do you plan on staying here, why/why not?

I enjoy the small-big city feel of Calgary and our great inner-city neighbourhoods. Even though I grew up in the Maritimes, close to the ocean, I now have a deep love for Alberta’s big blue skies and mountains. I could not bear to leave them!

Aside from your store, what are some of your favourite stores and shopping destinations in Downtown Calgary?

I am very selective in what I buy, as I like to spend my money wisely, know where the items I am buying come from, and I want them to last! I buy all of my clothing from my own boutique but for shoes, I adore John Fluevog on Stephen Ave (great customer service and stylish comfortable shoes).

What are some of your favourite YYC spots – restaurant, bar, coffee shop (Downtown Core)?

For restaurants, I always enjoy Blink and appreciate their support of local/Alberta sourced ingredients. My boutique is also surrounded by two great coffee/tea shops: DeVille, and David’s Teas, which I visit daily!

What are some of your future aspirations?

To continue to promote SLOW FASHION through my boutique and a new venture focused on workshops to teach others how to upcycle/mend/maintain the clothing already in their closets.

Anything you’d like to add?

To encourage others to take the SLOW FASHION pledge: http://www.slowfashioned.org/

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