If you love supporting indie Canadian designers or simply love well-designed accessories and housewares but don’t have the time to deep-dive online or browse local craft markets to find the perfect pieces, you’ve got to check out Fabrique1840. Simons’ recently launched, highly curated online marketplace offers an easy-to-use platform to discover and buy both affordable and collectible work from homegrown creatives.
Headquartered in Quebec City, the 178-year-old retailer opened its first location outside of Quebec in 2012, and now operates stores in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Fabrique1840, named after the year Simons was founded, is basically the digital equivalent of a shop-in-shop, one that exclusively features a curated selection of handcrafted, mostly made-in-Canada goods spanning across categories from food to furniture.
“Fabrique1840 came out of trying to do something new in the marketplace business model, [one that’s an] ecosystem and a community,” says Cécile Branco, creative director of Fabrique1840 at Simons. “We’re trying to be really open, really transparent about everything that we do.” The retailer handles the photography and features the products on their website, but orders are shipped to consumers directly by the brands, many of whom make their products to order rather than carry excess inventory.
“One really important thing is that the products need to be designed in Canada; 95% of them are also made in-house,” says Branco. “It's important for us to showcase how each product was made, and the know-how behind each of the products — like glass design, jewellery design, leather design, and wood design.” Some of the items are exclusive to the marketplace, and most of the 50-plus brands profiled will be new to many shoppers — the Simons buying team scoured the country to find under-the-radar companies doing incredible work. A majority of the initial group of designers are from Quebec and Ontario, but there are plans to add 85 additional brands next year, with a focus on creators based in other parts of Canada.
Whether you’re in the market for eco-friendly tableware or hand-painted jewellery, here are 11 covetable picks from some of Fabrique1840’s many talents.