Better by design: Loblaw’s Joe Fresh Style

Design thinking is clearly on the brains of marketers behind some pretty big brands. We asked two to pen a piece about how responding to consumer needs has influenced a recent launch

Design thinking is clearly on the brains of marketers behind some pretty big brands. We asked two to pen a piece about how responding to consumer needs has influenced a recent launch

Joseph Mimran

Lead designer, Joe Fresh Style

President’s Choice Home Collection


Founder of the apparel and home lifestyle retail chains Club Monaco and Caban, Mimran has been a prominent contributor to the fashion and design industry for more than 25 years.

At Brampton, Ont.-based Loblaw, his venture into the home fashions market as creative director of President’s Choice Home Collection resulted in a well-received line of valued-priced, design-driven items. Now, as head of Joe Fresh Style apparel, Mimran is lead designer of the line, which is available in approximately 350 stores under the Loblaw banner across Canada.

Mimran’s career began in 1977 with a family dress design and manufacturing business.

He writes:

Product: The Joe Fresh Style line

When launched: March 2006

Why design? Why now?

Loblaw, through its Real Canadian Superstore banner, had tried
apparel in the past without much success. We realized that we had to change consumers’ thinking towards the shopping experience and gain credibility in their minds.

My design team and I had to create a compelling offer in an environment that is known for having the lowest prices in the country, and compete with Wal-Mart – while being challenged with a limited amount of space within each Loblaw and/or Superstore location, relative to other mass discount retailers.

So the question was, ‘How do we become a destination?’ The way to achieve that was through integrity of product design and killer price points. All elements of the project had to come together in a way that would immediately draw the customers’ attention and make the shopping experience fun enough to visit the stores weekly.

Joe Fresh Style was born. The name of the brand was developed by combining two key facts: Joe for the designer’s name and Fresh for the food spin. All elements had to be consistent – from the product to the marketing to the store design to the fixtures to the color of the brand – and live in a grocery store environment. In other words, it had to stand up to the wear and tear of shopping carts and the traffic flow.

Every element was considered, from erecting dressing rooms to developing the cash desk areas with registers and people servicing them to creating a merchandising system that flowed with the grocery store environment.

Length of process:

In March 2005, a year prior to launch, we had to design, develop, source and merchandise a range of apparel and accessories for both men and women, with greater emphasis on the female consumer.

How has design thinking enhanced the brand?

Every item involves a high level of design integrity and scrutiny. There isn’t a single piece of marketing material that does not go through the same rigorous design process.

Design has helped pull all elements together in a way that gives the brand a personality that is rich in visual context, which helps to create an identity that allows consumers to recognize the brand at once.

The more consistently you approach all elements of design and the more consistently you communicate that, the stronger the personality and dimensions

of the brand become. Joe Fresh Style has a strong brand that is easily communicated by its advocates and employees.

The brand essence is pure and consistent, which in turn makes it more effective, and the consumer knows immediately that it relates to the brand.

Is it working?

The importance of design and mass appeal is the key to the success of the brand. Today, good design is good business.

Consumers are more design savvy then they have ever been, and fashion has always been about new, fresh designs every season. In just a year the brand has become one of the largest apparel brands in the country.