Posted  Jun 12, 2008

I rush into Roots for a fall preview really, really late, wearing my hot pink Pleats Please shirt. Company co-founder Michael Budman, of the bushy brows, likes the colour – in fact he likes colour. He recounts how he tried on a chartreuse jacket at Hermès in Paris for a cool $10,000. He didn’t buy it, though.

Will he knock it off?

He laughs, and later concurs that Hermès is an inspiration.

Colour is big and so is luxe leather for the Canadian chain founded by two Yankees in 1973. The fall bags include foldover clutches – three-way bags in various sizes – and come in purple, green and red, maybe even some neutrals.

There are also stamped basket-weave bags and real basket weaves to come. Which brings me to a question:

Bottega Veneta or Hermès?

Hermès, Budman answers.

Prada or Gucci?


Skirts or dresses?


Manolos or Louboutins?

Louboutins. (He bought his wife and daughter espadrilles in Paris. Lucky gals.)

Flats or heels?


Well, duh. That’s a no-brainer, coming from the guy who gave us earth shoes back in the day.

“The bag business is the best business in the world,’’ Budman declares, prompting me to fish my notebook out of my non-Roots bag and start taking notes.

The business has come a long way: There are now 120 stores in Canada, 60 in Asia, and the company is continuing to expand. And almost everything from the bags to organic cotton Ts is made in Canada.

Budman walks me through the bags – affordable clutches at $128, bigger bags in the $300 and less range, and the 72-hour equestrian leather weekender, $518. He demonstrates how to carry the man bag.

Then he’s off to give a speech on staying relevant. How?” Being connected,’’ he answers. “Having resonance’’ with your customer. “Give people a reason to come to your store.”