Holt Renfrew takes a hopeful approach to spring

The lux retailer enlists songwriter and poet Mustafa as it aims to establish an identity beyond the brands it carries.


Holt Renfrew explores the dual nature of hope in its spring campaign as it continues to take a culturally-relevant approach to establishing a more defined brand identity.

The spot features Toronto songwriter, poet and The Weeknd collaborator Mustafa, surrounded by spring menswear and womenswear reflected in a hall of mirrors, revealing the artist’s belief that hope is a double edged sword, that’s it’s both shattered him, but also allowed him to carve out a space for himself.

During tough times, feelings of hope and inspiration are key, says Wes Wolch, Holt Renfrew’s SVP of marketing, who joined the team last year after a three and a half year stint as chief strategy officer with Cossette Media.

“We’ve been on a bit of a journey with our brand,” Wolch notes, saying the retailer was previously defined by the brands that it carries and it was important to establish it’s own Holt Renfrew point of view. This included “taking more of a cultural approach than a traditional advertising approach,” creating artifacts that can exist in the broader culture at large, citing its Lunar New Year kids book and gift guide.

While designer brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton and Versace were releasing capsule collections thematically linked to the Year of the Tiger, Holt Renfrew’s approach included commissioning a children’s book called Lin’s Lucky Red Envelope.

During Black History Month, the retailer partnered with R.I.S.E., a youth-led initiative that stands for “Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere” and Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first Poet Laureate, to showcase pieces that speak to the Black experience from unique perspectives.

According to Wolch, these kinds of moves are about always about pushing and exploring new ways to tell stories.

“We are a well-established brand, there’s really strong awareness of Holt’s as a brand, but there might be a lack of familiarity with it and the evolution it’s gone through and with it’s instore experience and product mix,” Wolch says.

The luxury retail space has evolved, he says, to include both a heightened role of the circular economy and also that of the instore, as well as digital experience too. “As we evolve, it’s really a 360 approach to products through sustainability and experience,” he says.

The campaign includes connected TV, OOH, social. It includes a TikTok component, as Holt came to that platform last  last year.

The latest Spring 2022 campaign was done in-house, with Havas its media shop.