Based in Montreal, Canada, this multi-brand retailer was created by a trio of brothers: Rami, Basel, and Firas Atallah. What started in 2003 after a successful sales campaign selling Diesel jeans online has grown in popularity and expansiveness to this day. The company currently has clients in 114 countries around the globe and their websites operate in English, French, Japanese, and Korean. The brand focuses on high-end merchandise, but without a stuffy and aloof feel to it. The brothers have always chosen clothing designers with an eye to culture, whether music, art, fashion, or sub-cultures such as streetwear. They have always worked hard to support small businesses and burgeoning designers rather than just going after big names.
After a strong start in their niche and many years of hard work, the awards started rolling in. The founders were given the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2014 by Ernst and Young, and the company SSENSE was pinpointed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and The Business of Fashion as one of the 30 best global menswear retailers. Additionally, Honorary Chair duties for the 2017 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards were bestowed on Rami Atallah, who was also named to the jury for the International Woolmark Prize competition with other leaders in the fashion industry.
SSENSE’s first flagship retail store was opened in 2018 in a historic 19th century building in Montreal with a cafe, art space, and personal-shopper-guided experience that is available by appointment only.
SSENSE responds to the world around it, which is one of the reasons it has been so successful. As a result of the pandemic, for instance, they introduced a line called Everything Else, which includes high-end furniture, personal electronics and even pet clothing. These items became very popular as people started spending more and more time at home.
The company continues to flourish, and in June 2021 the company was valued at over $4 billion USD.
SSENSE does most of its business online, but it has an impressive flagship store in Montreal. There are over 70,000 items from more than 700 brands, a mixture of high fashion labels such as Gucci and Prada with street wear brands like Noah and Jun Takahashi’s Undercover.
The company itself is an online conglomeration of the best of 700 brand names, cutting edge and with an eye toward culture, whether it be art, music, or style. When customers land on the website, it features categories of Menswear, Womenswear, and Everything Else. There is also a category for Sale items and a Search bar to make it easier for shoppers to find exactly what they are looking for.
The Montreal brick and mortar store is a cultural mecca. The art changes frequently and customers can enjoy the cafe and ambience as they wait for their clothes. The store itself is like a glorified dressing room, where clients order their clothes from a vast array of items and they are delivered from a nearby warehouse to be tried on.
Whether in the store or online, shoppers are treated to customized experiences, with a personal shopper that can help a customer find exactly what they need. There are also invitation-only events and other perks of staying close to the company.
According to the website, the brand prides themselves on doing the next right thing, and sees “their mission as ‘moving culture forward,’ which is demonstrated by the brand’s sometimes challenging edit of items from luxury and emerging brands.”