By MICHAELA RITCHIE
When Megan Szanik first settled in Calgary and opened her fashion boutique, Espy Experience, she never dreamed one late-night shopping spree would give her retail style a revolutionary makeover.
“I had a customer bring her friend into the store at night,” Szanik says. “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. We went through that bottle of wine, and I showed her.”
The inspiration for Espy had originally been about savings—using her industry connections to bring affordable fashion to Calgarians. But when that customer’s husband called Szanik the next morning to thank her for “life changing” guidance, Szanik knew she had to find a way to make fashion accessible as well.
“I realized that I could make that experience part of my every day, and that’s what we do here,” she says. “Not everybody is going to look good in everything. Fashion is not just one style, one size, one brand fits all.”
What Espy Experience offers its shoppers is 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.
“I help people see who they are with fashion. I help show them what is possible—that when you feel good, you can do anything you want.”
In the interest of keeping Calgary as stylish as can be, we sat down with Szanik to ask her insights on Calgary’s current look:
How would you describe Calgary’s style?
Our people travel, so we have a lot of outside influences on our fashion in Calgary. 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.
What changes have you noticed in Calgary’s fashion scene?
When I first moved here ten years ago, I found it way more casual than it is now. We’re starting to get more dressed up for events, but it’s still also a bit of a wildcard. We like a fancy western dress.
What do you think visitors find 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.