SHAN is a company specialized in high-end resort wear for men and women, from swimwear to casual wear. Its styles range from basics to elaborate evening gowns. The brand has built its reputation on the sophisticated construction of its products, some of which involved corsetry, and the precise fit of its swimsuits. SHAN creates garments in sizes 4 to 16, with cup sizes from A to F. Combining technology and handicraft, production is carried out in the company’s workrooms, located at its head office. Fabrics are imported primarily from Italy.
Chantal Levesque is the founder of SHAN.With a degree in accounting from the Université du Québec à Montréal, she was introduced to the fashion industry by her mother, who was a dressmaker.
Chantal Levesque began creating custom-made bathing suits in 1985, in the basement of her Laval home.
The following year, she opened an atelier on Jean-Béraud Avenue. SHAN’s growth, notably in the international market, led her to look for a bigger head office in 2009 and move her operations to 4390 Autoroute Laval West.
Chantal Levesque was very involved in the Quebec fashion industry during the 1990s, serving as chair of the Quebec government’s working table on fashion and then as president of the Association professionnelle des designers de mode du Québec. In 1999, she became associated with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and was named president of Montréal Mode International. When Montréal Mode shut down in 2002, Chantal Levesque returned to managing SHAN.
As of 2018, SHAN products are exported to 32 countries and sold in over 600 stores, including Printemps in Paris, Harrods in London and Tsum in Moscow. The company also operates its own chain of eight branded stores and an e-commerce site.
SHAN remains a family-owned business. Chantal Levesque’s children—Shan, Nathan and Jordan Gilbert—all work on the artistic direction of the collections and in operations management. Her husband, Jean-François Sigouin, is vice-president, sales and marketing.
Bathing suit, SHAN, 2002. Gift of SHAN, M2005.47.1 © McCord Museum
SHAN head office in Laval © Nathan Gilbert. Photo courtesy of SHAN
“Chantal Lévesque.” Dans l’œil du dragon, Radio-Canada, https://ici.radio-canada.ca/tele/dans-l-oeil-du-dragon/site/complements/ficheequipe/2997/chantal-levesque-shan-maillots-bain-balneaire-entreprise-affaires. 2018.
Lord, Simon. “Shan veut séduire avec ses vêtements balnéaires.” Les affaires, TC Media, 13 July 2017, https://www.lesaffaires.com/strategie-d-entreprise/pme/shan-veut-seduire-avec-ses-vetements-balneaires/596026.
Madeleine Goubau, Contributor
© McCord Museum 2021