Montreal Launch of Eden Park
Eden Park, the name of Auckland, New Zealand's largest stadium is also the moniker of a brand keeping the likes of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Lacoste on their toes, a line of haute casual wear exemplifying the rise of rugby fashion.
A noticeable difference between these brands and Eden Park is that the latter is led by a rugby champ, and with him, authentic insight into the sport, a brand that balances fashion forward detailing and color scheming with conservative appeal, offering my absolute favorite take on rugby chic menswear, or any sports-inspired styling for men that springs to mind. Eden Park more recently added a children's line and a women's line, which I'm looking forward to seeing evolve with the same subtle edginess as found in the menswear. Current offerings are fairly limited in scope, to be expected this early in the game.
Founded in 1987 by former Rugby Union star Franck Mesnel—a retired athlete sporting an alluring blend of virility and elegance—the brand's logo is a pink bow tie, an ode to Mesnel's time as part of "Le Show-Bizz," a nickname the Racing Club de France in Paris' forwards coined for the goofball backs Mesnel eventually joined come 1986, a handful of backline players notorious for their on-field pranks: think a certain Jean-Baptiste Lafond emerging on field wearing a bald wig, an obvious jab at opposing team player Didier Cambérabéro's not-so-secret toupet.
They also had a flair for sartorial stunts, showing up on the field in matching pink bow ties and suit blazers or dressing up fellow player Yvon Rousset like a butler to serve the team champagne at half-time during the 1990 Final of the French Championship. The cheeky coup worked wonders for that game, which the Racing Club won, taking home the Brennus Shield to Paris, the first time the city earned the coveted trophy in 31 years.
But prior to that triumph was the history-making first Rugby World Cup, which was held in Auckland's Eden Park in 1987, the same year the clothing line was founded. France made the finals with Mesnel's pink bow tie concealed in his pocket, a symbol which would follow the future casual fashion maven through to two more World Cups, which no other French rugby player has yet to achieve. In the end, they lost to New Zealand, but the French team was still basking in the after-glow of beating Australia in the semi-finals, which they likened to “conquering Mount Everest.”
Sold in Europe, parts of the Middle East as well as in select African, Asian, central American and Caribbean nations, Eden Park decided to pierce the North American market via Montreal in April 2012, where it intends to open its first flagship store come 2013. In the meantime, a smattering of Montreal boutiques carry the line as well as some golf courses outside the city.
For more information on where the line is sold in Montreal and elsewhere, consult the Eden Park website.