Canada / Fashion / Montreal / Surf

Staying Transparent: Boutique Archive Montreal

I had visited Boutique Archive a few times during the annual Surf Swap in Montreal over the years. I loved the minimalist aesthetics and clean Californian style that echoed through the shop, even through I was in Quebec. It inspired me effortlessly. This year it was a quick visit to the Surf Swap, mostly because it was rainy and I was a bit under the weather myself.

The next day I head into the shop as ironically I needed a rain jacket and had saw a basic Patagonia Rain jacket the day before. I always loved Patagonia’s mission and the general mantra of the brand. It’s overall transparency as a company is quite admirable and quite the opposite marketing strategy to most brands that push to buy more at lower prices and avoid answering those hard questions.

I tried on the jacket a few times and wasn’t sure – I tend to be a deal shopper or avoid buying things if I have one already. My rain jacket was a great Helly Hansen I got on sale that served me well over the years but when it rained I got wet – as I have worn it until the lining is now basically non existent. I took a moment to think about the purchase and chatted with the owners in the meantime. Sebastian was happy to answer my questions as I mentioned I was interested to write a little blog piece about the shop.

Click the link and read more about the difference between “water resistance” and “waterproof” in the video description.

Local, Transparent and High Quality Brands

I noticed the brands featured in the shop were mostly higher quality local brands from Quebec, something that grabbed my eye in the beginning. Local Fashion Designer Eve Gravel is a Quebec designer I had been familiar with and immediately recognized in the shop. Along with Naked and Famous, a denim brand I had applied years ago to work for as a demin designer because I loved their mission. Naked and Famous is a brand focused on traditional denim weaved on Japanese looms – rare and raw selvage denim. Salt and Stone is a newer Quebec skincare brand most popular for it’s sun protection – which funny enough I used last week while surfing as a friend offered it with high regards. Another Quebec beauty brand Atelier La Vie Apothicaire sold there, is comprised of high quality and minimal products focused on local sourcing. However, being local wasn’t a requirement for Boutique Archive for the brands they selected but transparency was. When I spoke with Sebastian, he said if the brand couldn’t answer details on sourcing or manufacturing or were vague on these topics, Boutique Archive’s buying team avoided them. Transparency was key along with high quality and eco-conscious missions.

Sustainably Classic VS. Trends

We discussed sustainability and how surfing not to mention being a “sustainable” brand was in fashion now. A trend that has been building momentum for some time but really hitting the boom cycle filled with a lot of green washing. Everywhere you look a brand is mentioning or marketing sustainability or had some form of surf images in their marketing or ads. (I understand the irony in mentioning this, considering the name of my blog that started during covid). Regardless, he shrugged his shoulders a bit and said that was never what it was about for them. This was a lifestyle. We agreed that trends come and go, but for those who really believe in a simple, sustainable and surf lifestyle it won’t disappear. I love that everything I love is “in fashion”, and it’s nice to be surround by people and ideas I agree with but sometimes when the true meaning gets lost, it’s a bit icky. So I do love that shops like Boutique Archive that stick to their true selves and are honest with a non-push sales approach, building a sense of community versus just a surf shop cafe because ‘it’s cool”. They were truly welcoming in such few moments of interaction, with genuine care in the people who enter their shop, their mission and really being sustainable!

A quick note directly from Boutique Archive’s website:

Archive is deliberately ‘slightly out’ of the traditional Montreal fashion and sports boutique market. It is this ‘counterculture’ that this deliberately crooked logo symbolizes at first sight. The symbol also looks like an arrow pointing left or past. It complements the name ‘Archive’ by communicating an admiration for the legacy of a time when things were done with more care, in order to last longer.

Boutique Archive

Beyond brands, trends and fashion, Archive wants to create a place for meetings and exchanges where everyone is welcome.

Building a sense of community

As mentioned Boutique Archive hosts the annual surf swap, for those who do not know, the surf swap is an event for Montreal’s local surf community. In 2022, it was the 8th edition after a 2 year pause due to Covid. It is a community event to exchange, buy or sell used surfboards. Montreal’s local surfboard shapers share their latest collections – this past summer featuring Guava Surfboards, Boréal Surfboards, Wishbone Surfboards, Alchemy Surfboards and Cozy Surfboards. KSF and Go-Van were also there to show their support and meet with interested people new to surfing or van life. There is food and drink served by local restaurants and Quebec Breweries. Often independent artists and boutique brands will also setup little booths to sell their work or even freebies. I remember one year doing a screen print artwork of Deus Ex Machina to take home, it was the same year someone had cute little surfboard homemade cookies. A fun way to celebrate the true essence of surfing, which is letting go of everyday stress, disconnecting temporarily and reconnecting with people who encourage you, while having a good laugh. The event really brings the local surf crowd together to celebrate another year but also welcomes new members to join the community, learn a bit and make new friendships to take to the wave or just chat about surf life in Montreal, regardless of skill or level. It is also a great way for the local independent surf industry to reach out to the community, a way to give back but also show up and bring awareness to those who might not otherwise know about them. It is how I discovered Boutique Archive and the local surf community before its mainstream popularity. A few images below are from my first attendance there in 2018.

Guava Surfboards and local shapers

Guava Surfboards are high quality surfboards made in Montreal not far from Boutique Archive right in the neighbour of Villeray. A local shaper who I met quickly that surf swap in 2018, a kind laidback guy who was happy to show me his collection, knowing I was most likely not going to buy that day. I love the soft pastels he selects for his finishes, subtle, elegant designs that remind me of those cotton candy skies at sunset in Magic Bay surfing in Imsouane. Guava showcases their collection at the Surf Swap and they can be found and purchased at Boutique Archive. Their simple yet sophisticated design added that soft subtle surf vibe to Boutique Archive as they discreetly sit at the back of the shop but also the first thing you see when you enter the shop. Grab a tasty little latte and peruse the boards while you wait for it.

As it took me some time to finally post this article since I moved from Villeray area to Verdun to be closer to the wave at Vague a Guy, I still smile everytime it rains because I am so happy in my rain jacket from Boutique Archive. I don’t go often to Villarey but I try to grab a coffee there every time I am up that way. Looking forward to next year’s Surf Swap at Boutique Archive and hope to see you there!

Go check out the Boutique at 318 Rue Villeray, Montréal, QC H2R 1G7 or go online to shop boutique

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