Category Archives: Boutiques

Frank And Oak Launches Womenswear Stores

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Frank And Oak’s new women’s store in Montreal. Photo courtesy of Frank And Oak. 

Modern clothing retailer Frank And Oak is making a definitive push into the womenswear market, with initial plans to open two new stores dedicated to its women’s collection.

Read the full article about the new stores on Retail Insider.

 

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Personal meets digital at new Shoes.com store

One of North America’s major online footwear retailers is making the transition from e-commerce to bricks and mortar, with a new Toronto store that combines elements of online shopping and in-store browsing for a modern retail experience.

Shoes.com, which offers a dizzying selection of more than 500 brands through its websites Shoes.com, ShoeMe.ca and OnlineShoes.com, opened its first physical store on Queen Street West this week.

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New Shoes.com store in Toronto, located at 356 Queen Street West.

The move is, in part, a strategy to cater to shoppers who aren’t comfortable shopping online. A large proportion of consumers likely fall into that category when it comes to shopping for shoes, given that sizes tend to vary slightly between brands, and the opportunity to try them on can help shoppers avoid ending up with a pair that doesn’t fit quite right.

By incorporating online shopping stations right into the store, Shoes.com hopes to make new customers more comfortable with the online shopping experience.

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Shoeme.ca website homepage.

The establishment of a physical retail presence also allows the company to develop a stronger connection with its existing customers, according to Jonathan Zhu, assistant store manager, who offered tours of the store during a media event this week.

“Being a really stable online retail space, we want to make that personal connection. We want our customers to see the people behind the shoes and behind the website, and this is our opportunity to do that,” Zhu says. “To be a part of the community is really important to us.”

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Interior of the new Toronto store.

The store is divided into three main sections:

1. the “Home Room”, at the front of the store, aims to reflect the home page of the Shoes.com website, showcasing a variety of different popular styles and brands;

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The Home Room.

2. the “Dressing Room”, in the middle of the store, is set up as a boutique that will put a spotlight on five to six specific brands;

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Maians shoes on display in the Dressing Room.

3. the “Editor’s Room”, at the back of the store, aims to reflect the local community, showcasing merchandise from various designers and entrepreneurs from the city in which the store is located.

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The Editor’s Room.

“More so than a corporate space, you’ll get the feeling of a boutique from us, and the fact that we’re really in tune with our community,” Zhu says.

Each store that the company opens will be unique, with the Editor’s Room being the key differentiating component. In the new Toronto store, for instance, the Editor’s Room will initially feature Toronto-based hat designer Jason Mitchell and his brand Coup de Tete, as well as Armed Jewelry, a local brand founded by designer Desiree Girlato.

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Armed Jewelry on display in the Editor’s Room at the Toronto store.

“Every one of our stores is going to have a different vibe,” Zhu says. “There’s going to be different personalities from the community incorporated into the stores.”

The online shopping terminals will be available for customers to browse and order items not available in store, using the company’s new artificial intelligence-powered shopping tool, called Smart Shopper. The tool helps customers narrow down their search by learning their style preferences and displaying the merchandise that is most relevant to each individual.

Shoes.com plans to open a second store in Vancouver in September, with other locations likely to follow.

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Links of London lands in Toronto

Trendy jewellery chain Links of London is opening its first Canadian standalone boutique this week in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

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The British jeweler, which is owned by global fashion powerhouse Folli Follie Group, has more than 100 retail locations around the world. In the Canadian market, it operates a handful of kiosks inside Holt Renfrew stores, as well as one that recently opened in Montreal’s downtown luxury department store Ogilvy.

Although Links of London started out specializing in cufflinks in 1990, it now offers jewellery of all kinds – including watches – and is perhaps best known for its collection of so-called ‘Sweetie’ charm bracelets.

Sweetie Bracelet

Sweetie Charm Bracelet, $295.

Links of London has also become affiliated with Britain’s world-famous Wimbledon tennis tournament, offering a collection of playful and sporty jewellery dedicated to the annual event.

The new store, located next to Michael Kors on the third floor of the Toronto Eaton Centre, opens on June 16th.

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A second standalone Canadian Links of London store is set to open soon at Sherway Gardens. Although the jeweller has already been operating a kiosk in Sherway’s Holt Renfrew location, that store is preparing to shut its doors to make way for a new, larger Holt Renfrew location at Square One Shopping Centre.

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Retailer relaunched

A west-end retail destination for trend-setters has unveiled an updated brand, a fresh feel, and a new suite of designer brands.

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Riant Boutique, located around the corner from the Thompson Hotel in the trendy King Street West area, has re-launched its identity.

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The women’s fashion retailer offers a mix of casual and dressy fashions, including accessories and outerwear. The relaunch was an opportunity for the boutique to introduce some new labels into the mix and re-energize the brand.

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The new and improved boutique is bright, spacious and welcoming. Its new roster of designers includes A.L.C., Alice and Olivia, Mackage, Ted Baker, Vince, and many more coveted labels.

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The upscale merchandise features up-to-date trends, including furs and warm winter coats that are sure to appeal to local fashionistas who are buckling down for another cold winter.

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Side note for readers: I thought the ‘relaunch’ theme of this post was appropriate given the recent hiatus of Retail Realm. Although other endeavours have kept me busy in recent months, I’m still committed to covering Toronto vibrant retail scene! Stay tuned for more.

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Celebrating past and present at CBD

The newest addition to Toronto’s King Street East Design District celebrated its official grand opening this week, and showed off its hefty collection of furniture and home decor items.

Creations By Design (CBD Co.), located at 81 King Street East, specializes in the concepts of reinvention, reusing and renovation.

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The shop’s owners travel extensively in Canada and abroad, in search of unique pieces that can be revamped into stylish new items that appeal to a variety of different tastes and budgets.

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Elements of both new and old are very evident in many of the items at CBD. For instance, drawer units made from rustic wood are refinished with rich new stains or repainted with modern patterns, and metallic finishes are used to add a contemporary feel to vintage items.

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The result is an eccentric collection of furniture that embraces the history of each item, with a fresh spin.

With similar elements of past and present in the boutique itself, including exposed brick alongside freshly painted walls and rich hardwood floors, CBD has created a very appropriate backdrop for its collection.

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In a market that’s largely dominated by major mass-producers of merchandise, it’s refreshing to see the emergence of new independent retailers promoting unique items that aren’t found on other stores’ shelves.

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Style Faux Pas strives for stellar service

In a world where personalized customer service is increasingly being squeezed out by online retailers, mobile apps, and perhaps – as we learned this week – even drones, a new Toronto boutique is striving to bring back the customized service that many shoppers still crave.

Style Faux Pas (@stylefauxpas), a new fashion retailer that opened last week on Church Street, north of Queen, claims to be “more than a traditional boutique”.

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Launched by Alisha Hanif, an entrepreneur from B.C. with a passion for fashion styling, the shop offers such services as personal shopping and image consulting. Hanif’s goal is to provide a customized fashion experience, helping each client to find her own unique look.

This retail concept – although not at all new – seems strangely refreshing in these digital times.

The shop carries handpicked pieces from such designer clothing brands as Whitney Eve; Love, Zooey; Label + Thread; and Maurie & Eve. It also features accessories from such Canadian designers as Jessica Jensen and Melanie Auld, along with a selection of men’s wear.

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The 600-square-foot boutique is located in a neighbourhood that’s not exactly known for its fashion, but since it’s just a short walk east of the Eaton Centre and the trendy retail strip on Queen Street West, Style Faux Pas will likely have no trouble attracting nearby shoppers.

The boutique is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.

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Targeting Toronto tweens

Young fashionistas in Toronto celebrated this weekend, as niche Canadian retailer Triple Flip launched its first location in the city.

Triple Flip, a retailer that specializes in apparel for pre-teen girls, held a grand opening celebration at its new store at Yonge and Eglinton.

Triple Flip's Newmarket store.

Triple Flip’s Newmarket store.

The company, which began as a single store in Calgary, Alberta that was launched by two local moms in 2005, has expanded to include 11 locations across the country, as well as a comprehensive e-commerce website.

Fly Girl Hoodie, $29.95

Fly Girl Hoodie, $29.95

Although the chain already operates two other GTA locations – one in Oakville and one in Newmarket – the new boutique provides a more accessible location for urban families.

Triple Flip aims to offer stylish and comfortable attire for pre-teen girls with active lifestyles. The collections include such items as tops with bold patterns and sassy catch-phrases, multi-coloured skinny jeans, stretchy and colourful active-wear, and fun accessories such as rhinestone-embellished ear muffs and furry pencil cases.

Jazlyn Tee $35.00

Jazlyn Tee $35.00

Given the solid demand for trendy clothes and accessories among 10-to-12-year-olds, Triple Flip will likely have no trouble attracting customers in the Toronto market.

However, this segment of the market can be tough – especially for retailers focused exclusively on this young demographic. La Senza Girl and Jacob Jr., for instance – both of which catered to the pre-teen market – seemed to struggle to establish enough of a core market, and both chains eventually shut down.

Considering the success it’s had so far, however, perhaps Triple Flip has found a formula that works in this competitive market. If the company’s Facebook page is any indication, it certainly appears to have won over the hearts of tweens and moms across the country.

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