Canadian Fashion Connection – April Cornell

April Cornell, 2015

In 1975 Montrealers Chris and April Cornell came back from a trip to Asia with their luggage stuffed with hundreds of pounds of kilims, Kandahar wedding shirts, Turkomen jewelry, Nepali jackets, Afghani socks, and Kuchi tribal dresses – enough to open a boutique called La Cache on Green Avenue in May 1975. The boutique was a hit.

In 1981 the couple expanded their enterprise, opening more stores, eventually acquiring two factories and a printing mill in India to produce clothing with a Victorian flare under the April Cornell label. In 1992 the company, which now had wholesale, manufacturing and licensing divisions, moved to Burlington Vermont. In 2005, the company operated over 100 stores in the U.S. and Canada — but then everything fell apart.

In 2006, the growing trend for online shopping was making enough of a dent in sales for Cornell, whose stores were locked into long leases with high rents, to require Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company needed to reorganize. All but disappearing, the company has slowly and carefully come back – revisiting the boutique concept for four stores and an online sales site that offers housewares, linens, and a small selection of clothing.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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2 Responses to Canadian Fashion Connection – April Cornell

  1. Betty says:

    The clothes were always well-made and the sizings were fair. They also had a way of having enough of a trend range that I knew that I could find some great classic pieces at very decent prices even if I didn’t particularly want diaphanous tops or flower-festooned maxi skirts. And the pieces that had a slight retro/antique feel were to die for.

    I still wear the boiled wool jacket I got there almost 20 years ago.

    Their home accessories were great, too.

    Aaaaannnndddd because of this entry, I just went to their site and bought over $300.00 of their clothes! HA!

    • Jonathan says:

      I have a friend who is a fan of the label too, and was grateful they didn’t go under from the bankruptcy. Now April Cornell owes me a favour since I made them some money today!

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