After darting around the globe buying, selling and researching on behalf of some of the fashion world’s most talkedabout brands, Megan Szanik settled in Calgary to open her fashion boutique Espy Experience (page 43). The inspiration for Espy had originally been about savings—using her industry connections to bring affordable fashion to Calgarians. Then a midnight shopping spree gave her a retail revelation.
“I had a customer bring her friend into the store at night. She said to me, ‘Megan, she won’t come in during the day. She hates herself, she’s gained all this weight. She doesn’t know how to dress her new body.’ So we brought her in at nine o’clock at night and I dressed her for two hours.” When that customer’s husband called Szanik the next morning to thank her for her “life changing” guidance, Szanik knew she had to find a way to make fashion accessible for all.
“I realized that I could make that experience part of my every day, and that’s what we do here [at Espy],” she says. “Not everybody is going to look good in everything. Fashion is not just one style, one size, one brand fits all.”
Espy Experience offers access to professional styling, individually catered to aid a diverse range of style profiles and body types in their quest to become the best—and best-dressed—versions of themselves. The store is known for its vast selection of denim cuts, exceptional service and intrepid charity campaigns.
How would you describe Calgary’s style?
If you were to sit on Stephen Avenue and watch people, and ask them ‘Where did you get this?’ they might say ‘Oh, Toronto. New York. When I was in Phoenix at the outlets.’ I love that we have a real traveller population, and that we bring a lot of our influences back here.
How has Calgary's fashion scene changed?
When I first moved here ten years ago I found it way more casual than it is now, but it’s still also a bit of a wildcard. We like a fancy western dress.
What is surprising about Calgary?
People don’t realize how big Calgary is, because it feels like a small town. I’ve lived in Toronto, I’ve lived in Montreal, I’ve lived in Vancouver—nothing feels like this place.