Pacific Coast Pretty: Migration, a transitory boutique with permanent appeal

In a city full of trendy boutiques and niche shops, it can be tricky to find a company that offers a truly original approach to fashion and home décor shopping. Originality is key, and Victoria’s Migration Boutique is nothing if not original. Formerly known as Lotus, this innovative shop on the main floor of the Bay Centre Mall in downtown Victoria draws in stylish urbanites with an eye for locally produced goods and tourists looking for one-of-a-kind West Coast souvenirs. It was renamed “Migration” by owner and creative director, Sara Patterson, to reflect the store’s migratory spirit and her creative flair for travel and fair trade.

According to the manager of Migration (and fellow designer), Angelica Reid, the shop has been moving around the Bay Centre for about five years, although Patterson has been in the fashion, accessory and home décor industry for the last ten years. She started selling products at local markets and festivals, and then decided to test out the concept of a “pop-up shop” by operating a temporary boutique in the mall during the months of November and December exclusively. The last two years have seen Migration exist on a more permanent basis when “[Sara] decided to keep it open for six [months] and now she’s going even longer,” said Reid. When asked about future plans, Reid commented that Migration will be in its current location until at least May 2014. “Ideally we’re staying there [the mall] because we expose so many people to this concept there.” And with its rapidly growing popularity, hopefully its doors will be open during the coming summer and fall months.

In addition to its on-the-move appeal is the fact that Migration stocks over 40 designers, with a special focus on local trend-setting companies. Brands like Floating Gold Iceberg, Bonspiel Creations, Quench Designs and BoPeepBaby, among others, come from around the Lower Mainland and the Greater Victoria areas to make their home at Migration. The store displays hundreds of items, from handmade jewelry, to homemade kitchen sauces, to of-the-moment handbags and clothing created from ethically sourced materials. From adorable baby clothes to en vogue women’s fashion to men’s t-shirts, they’ve truly got it all. Lines from brands like Morena and Trapper Jane Clothing have helped to establish their versatility and ability to showcase both ends of the fashion spectrum. “Trapper Jane has just a really subdued kind of aesthetic. They’re basics, but they’re cut so nicely. Morena has this crazy artistic poetry to everything that she makes and pieces together as one-of-a-kind,” said Reid.

When it comes to all the stock on the walls, its designers and its origins, Patterson is a big proponent of supporting small businesses, fair trade and ethical sourcing. While many of Migration’s competitors carry fashionable finds in the same categories and price ranges, they cannot always boast that their goods were ethically sourced and locally produced. With Reid and Patterson at the helm, this store has a different trade philosophy than most. “We’ve had to turn [designers] away if we question where their things are coming from or how they’re assembled. We’ve certainly returned stock before,” said Reid. On the store website Patterson is honest about her business approach and mentality, writing, “Buyers like me have the choice to purchase items that are mass produced and made in an unethical manner or to seek out talented individuals to make sure they receive a fair wage for their work.” Although there are definite challenges that come with the its “pop-up” set up, namely the construction and deconstruction of Migration’s displays and store layout, it is a concept that keeps shoppers coming back. The Migration team works extra hard on promotion and making sure their customers know their latest address. Their current location is the fifth stop for Migration and if the growing number of customers and in-stock designers are any indication, this unique boutique has more than a few fans hoping for a permanent roost announcement in the spring.

Migration’s official launch, which is slated for April / May 2014, will be celebrated with a party of the most trendy variety. “She [Patterson] is a party planner. It’s going to be huge!” said Reid, with a laugh. “All the designers will be there. […] In either February or March we’ll also do a meet-the-designers night. It won’t be a brand launch, but rather, kind of a softer opening.”

To keep tabs on the Migration team and learn about future launch details, feel free to check out their location in the Bay Centre, or find them on the web at “www.migrationboutique.com” or on their Facebook page.

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