Robber opened its white-washed doors in April of 2009, and since then has been clothing Queen Street West in the frocks of Australian label Lover and the shoes of London’s F-Troupe (which just so happen to make a lovely cameo in Issue 12’s Bibliophilles photoshoot). Busy bringing emerging designers — from Seattle to Las Vegas — here to Toronto, co-owner Erin takes the time to talk to WORN about wedding attire, Philip Sparks, and Hamilton.
What was your first favourite outfit as a kid?
A dress I wore to my dad’s wedding when I was eight years old. I think it was the first time I got to choose my own special occasion outfit, and I really went for it — it was a white tank dress with a blue, green, and pink plaid tiered skirt, and bows in the same plaid all over the front. I found a photo from that day recently and I still think I looked great!
Tell me the story of how Robber came to be.
I was unhappy at my old job in Vancouver. I started talking to my roommate Robin about it and we came up with the idea of opening a store together. I was also thinking of moving back to Toronto and the kind of shop we would want didn’t really exist yet here, so it seemed perfect. We had both worked in fashion in the past and Robin has an MBA, which made the business side much easier — I definitely couldn’t have done any of that part on my own!
Do you think shopping independent is important?
Yes. I’m from a small town and that’s the kind of shopping I’m used to anyway, so I’m glad we can help create that same sense of community in our area of the city. I love that I can get everything I need within a few blocks of my house, and that most of it will be unique and different from what you’d get somewhere else. And when you shop at an independent business you’re also supporting all the designers, artists, writers, etc. that they carry, and helping ensure they are paid fairly for their work and can continue with their craft. I’m not a total hippie, and of course I still shop at big-box stores, but I certainly aspire not to.
Would you say that the clothing and accessories you carry at Robber reflect your own personal style, or do you aim to carry items that are fairly distinguished from your own wardrobe?
I think the store definitely reflects my personal style as well as Robin’s, and although those aren’t really the same, it makes for a nice balance. I’m usually drawn to more androgynous looks and she tends to like slightly girlier stuff, but we can agree on prints and colours that tie it all together. In our very first season we tried buying some items that neither one of us really loved, but that we thought would appeal to other customers, and that really didn’t work at all — they were all the pieces that were left at the end of the season.
What are your local fashion crushes?
Toronto has so many amazing designers and stores. Philip Sparks is a major fashion crush of mine — I’m so glad he started doing womenswear. I also really love our friend Jacque’s new jewelry line, Maude & Colette. I don’t get many chances to go to other stores, but when I can I like to check out Chasse Gardee, Rac, Mjolk and the little mini-mall that houses Silver Falls/Chosen/LAB Consignment. So many great people doing great things, I wish I could buy it all!
Tell me about your spring pop-up shop, Field Trip.
It was really the brainchild of the girls from Victoire in Ottawa. They were in Toronto a few months ago and we went out for dinner, and the next day they were heading to Hamilton for a few days. They were so excited about it and certain that they would fall in love with the city. We kept joking that they’d sign a lease over the weekend. The following week they e-mailed us and were like, “ummm no lease, but we found the perfect spot for a pop-up shop!” — they had the dates and everything all worked out. All of the shops involved know each other mainly from blogs and Twitter, and we’ve become real-life friends over the past few years, so it was really easy to put the list together. It’s great because we all have certain aesthetic similarities, but also a lot of variety in the kinds of things we make or carry. I think people can expect a really well-chosen selection of clothes and accessories from all of us, maybe some things they’ve seen before in our individual shops, but also some extra-special deals and exclusives that are for Hamilton only. Oh, and FUN, lots of that too!
Interview by Casie Brown
Photography by Samantha Walton