What Stores are Similar to Express?

Last week I shared the news that Express is closing all 17 of their stores in Canada (full article here). I was pretty shocked to hear that at first because I have a few Canadian readers who are loyal shoppers, plus I know quite a few Canadian bloggers who love Express, too. So maybe my perspective is skewed as far as the popularity of the brand in Canada, and after further consideration, if Target didn't make it in Canada, how could I even be surprised?  It is what it is, but I wanted to talk a little more about this today with some of my Canadian friends and get their thoughts, plus provide some suggestions of other places that carry similar items to Express.

Model image via Express

I interviewed Christin (find her here or on Instagram) and Zeba (of Ella Pretty Blog and on Instagram) who both live in Canada to get their thoughts on the whole situation as well as some recommendations Express back-up shopping options for Canadians.

Q: First, what are your thoughts in general about Express leaving Canada? Why do you think it's so hard for popular U.S. retailers like Target and Express to make it in Canada? 

Christin: My first thought was, “Another one bites the dust!” I was sad that a retailer I like to shop at was closing up shop here in Canada but not really surprised considering Target closing and also all the dismal news about retailers in both countries recently. My second thought was that there might be some good sales as they get rid of inventory! I don’t really understand why its harder for them to make it here. You would think if the Canadian population is 10% of the US, then just open 10% (or less) of the amount of stores you have in the US but I guess its not that simple. Maybe the population is distributed differently here. One thing I did notice was that the Express website had the exact same prices in CDN and US dollars which is not the case with most retailers. So for example that cold shoulder top I ended up returning cause it was see-through [see the top she bought here] was $49.90 Canadian in the store, and it's also $49.90 on the US website. Most often, items are less expensive on the US websites since the US dollar is worth more. Not sure if that has any impact on people's shopping habits, you would actually think the opposite because if I’m paying $50 Canadian, I’m not going to want to pay $50 US to order it online because that's actually about $68 CDN. Plus then I also have to pay for shipping! Hey, maybe that's why they went out of business here, they weren’t charging enough for the clothes in the Canadian stores!

I'm VERY sad because I love the camisoles, jeans and shoes from Express. I think Target and Express left for different reasons. With Target, it was too much too fast...they were very ambitious and opened up too many stores without figuring out adequate infrastructure. So once something was out of stock, it wouldn't be re-stocked. What Express and Target both share is the perception of being overpriced compared to their US versions. Many people are happy to shop at these stores when they visit the US, but find the prices higher yet fewer options when shopping in Canada. With regards to Express, most people also seem to think of it as a "club wear" type of store.

Q: In general, what other Canada-friendly stores do you think offer similar styles to Express?

Christin: Zara, Le Chateau, RW and H&M

Zeba: Forever 21, H&M, Zara, Guess

Q: Let's get more specific. What are some of your other favorite Canada-friendly places to shop in the following five categories....


Christin: Gap, Department Stores, American Eagle

Zeba: American Eagle Outfitters


Christin: Old Navy, H&M, Joe Fresh

Zeba: H&M

3. WORKWEAR (e.g. blazers, blouses, pencil skirts, dress pants/trousers)

Christin: Zara, RW, Le Chateau

Zeba: H&M


Christin: Department Stores (Nordstrom), Steve Madden, Aldo, DSW

Zeba: Old Navy


Christin: Department stores or local boutiques for bags, Etsy or local markets for jewelry

Zeba: H&M

Thanks so much to Zeba and Christin for their input on this post! When I decided to do this I quickly realized I was out of my league trying to offer alternates on my own since I am just not that familiar with access and popularity of most stores/brands in Canada vs. the States. I know I personally have been shopping more at Abercrombie lately (and you'll see some of their similar-to-Express options below), but I had to ask a reader if they have Abercrombie too! Also, I think Banana Republic has some very similar, good quality workwear items but neither Christin nor Zeba mentioned them so I had to double-check on that before posting as well.

I put together a visual of some current clothing options at still-in-Canada stores vs. current Express selections. Generally here in the States, H&M is a little less expensive than Express and Banana Republic is a little more. Abercrombie seems to be priced about the same, but just like Express (and Banana for that matter) they have such frequent promotions you don't really expect to pay full price.

On Trend Tops:
H&M vs Express Options
Express vs.H&M | Express vs. H&M

Abercrombie vs. Express Tops

Dress Pants:
Banana Republic vs. Express Dress/Office Pants
Banana Republic (Logan) vs. Express (Editor) | Banana Republic (Sloan) vs. Express (Columnist)

H&M vs Express vs Banana Republic Blazers

Classic Shirts: 
Classic Shirts

I cannot speak to the quality or fit on all of these specific items shown, although I have shopped at each of these stores now and then and think they would be my own top replacement stores if I couldn't shop at Express. I do own two blazers from H&M and think they are really great for the price. I also own several tops and sweaters from Abercrombie and if I did a blind try-on where I couldn't see the tags I'm not sure I'd know they weren't from Express.

I hope this helps some of you all today! I will have my weekly outfit recap tomorrow so you can see what I normally would have posted today in that post. Aside from that, see you back on Monday!



  1. wow I missed that article last week, but you know I am not surprised. I think a lot of retailers are struggling and I suspected express was one of them. Two retailers that I think are not going anywhere anytime soon are hm and zara.


  2. I was saddened to hear that because obviously I love both express and target. I know Zeba has a few pieces from Express. I'm not sure why they did so poorly but I know the alternatives mentioned are similar. I honestly think stores like Zara probably do better in Canada and overseas! I could be wrong but I see bloggers from other countries wearing those brands much more than here in the states.

  3. I'm always amazed at how difficult it is for some retailers to make it in Canada especially since I always think of the market as very similar to US. I'm sorry they are closing, but I think you've mentioned some great alternatives.

    Nicole to the Nines

  4. Such a great post to read - thanks for featuring me...I'm seriously obsessed with the future of retail - because it combines my background in economics with my love of shopping lol! I know online is winning over bricks and mortar - leading to companies like Amazon looking to increase their fashion apparel reach....which affects me personally as a blogger as I'm actually working on a program with Amazon Canada at the moment! I also find that I like to order online but return in store...so I always like a bricks and mortar store - and shopping malls are my happy place so i wouldn't want too many stores to close down...anyway I could talk about this stuff forever lol!!!

  5. My day job has definitely taught me that even though Canada physically touches the US, they are VERY different in so many ways. I wonder if a lot of retailers expect the market to be very much the same and treat it the same as they do in the US when it really needs to be studied and handled a lot differently. The habits are different, the culture and personalities are different. It's pretty fascinating and something I never thought would be the case! This was an interesting read!
    Caryl | morepiecesofme.com

  6. that really is such a bummer, but yeah closing down sales would be fun! unless they just ship everything over to their US stores. lame.

  7. Really great and very nice blog post. Like that these Women's Styles are made right here top fashion blogger

  8. Express always has classic looks def will look into it


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I sincerely appreciate each and every one and always do my best to answer questions promptly!