C.J. Grenier Ltée
1860 - 2016
Girdle (detail), C. J. Grenier Ltée, about 1970. Gift of Centre national de recherche et de diffusion du costume, M2009.41.20.1-2 © McCord Museum
Founded in 1860, the C.J. Grenier Ltée company is a pioneer of Québec’s fashion industry. During his early career, Jérôme Grenier establishes his luxury corsets store in Montréal, on Dorchester Street. Later on, his son Édouard joins him and reorients the company in the underwear business. In 1929, the company is established on Coloniale Avenue, where it stayed until 2013. In 1939, a factory is built in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, to foster the creation of jobs. A new line of accessories is also developed, such as seamed silk stockings.
In 1930, in the middle of the Great Depression, the company creates the Caresse bra, since, according to Ève Grenier, vice-president of the company founded by her great-grandfather, “In a time of economic downturn, women will always want to treat themselves through self-care.”
Since its creation, C.J. Grenier Ltée has always been attentive to its customer, while staying on the forefront of trends. Adaptation was the key to its success.
In 1945, Camille Grenier specializes himself with new production methods and machinery. The company knows a remarkable technological growth. His expertise allows him to answer to his costumer’s needs with products that combine comfort and elegance. The market, in constant evolution and influenced by fashion, must continually be refined. In 1962, the pantyhose supplants the girdle market. To compensate for the loss in sales, C.J. Grenier Ltée launches a women’s swimsuit, which becomes a synonym of luxury, style, and quality. The brand made a name for itself, with innovations, while never rushing its work, committed to its conservative ways.
The family company has known 4 generations of expertise, has survived two great wars, the Great Depression of 1929, the oil shock of the 70s and Québec’s cultural changes. Firmly implanted in the field of fashion, driven by a profound sense of responsibilities, it remained a québécois company, which kept on creating its designs and maintaining its production in Québec up until its closure in 2016.
© McCord Museum 2021