Category Archives: Clothing Lines

Reiss reaches overseas

U.K.-based fashion brand Reiss has opened its second Toronto location at Sherway Gardens, and a recent ownership change for the chain suggests Canadians could soon see more Reiss stores across the country.

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Reiss store at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

The upscale men’s and women’s clothing retailer, known for being a favourite brand of the Dutchess of Cambridge, made its Canadian debut in March with the opening of a store in the Toronto Eaton Centre.

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The chain, founded by David Reiss in 1971, now has more than 160 locations in 15 countries.

In April, Reiss Holdings – the company that owns the retail chain – entered an agreement to sell a majority stake in the company to New York-based global private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC.

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That transaction positions Reiss for further international growth, particularly in North America, Asia and Australia, with a goal of building Reiss “into a truly global fashion brand,” David Reiss said in a statement about the deal.

That could mean the new Toronto stores are just the beginning of a broader Canadian presence for the fashion brand.

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Reiss is celebrating the launch of the new Sherway Gardens store with an opening party on Thursday, May 12, co-hosted by The Kit, complete with treats and drinks, and a chance to win a $1,500 Reiss wardrobe.

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A new location for Loft

Women’s clothing retailer Loft has opened its second Canadian location, at the Toronto Eaton Centre.

The sister chain to Ann Taylor, owned by Ann Inc., unveiled its first Canadian store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre towards the end of last year (Ann Taylor reaches for “Lofty” new heights). The new downtown location opened on May 31st, and was warmly welcomed by many keen shoppers.

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Loft carries trendy fashions for women, with styles that come in a variety of different fits to flatter such body types as petites and tall women, along with a maternity line. Its styles are somewhat comparable to those available at RW & Co. and Banana Republic.

The new shop is located on the top level of the Eaton Centre, across from Michael Kors. It’s a nice sized store, with a comprehensive section at the back devoted to petite sizes.

The retailer is planning to open three other GTA locations in the months to come, including one in Lime Ridge Mall in Hamilton in July, one in Markville Shopping Centre in Markham in August, and one in Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga in October.

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The retailer also recently expanded its e-commerce capabilities to the Canadian market, so that shoppers on this side of the border can buy Loft fashions online.

The opening of the new store comes about six months after Loft’s higher-end sister chain, Ann Taylor, launched its own location in the Toronto Eaton Centre. That chain has been embarking on its own Canadian expansion strategy, having opened two Toronto locations this past fall.

Canadian women appear to be embracing both well-established U.S. brands, as they continue to expand into this country.

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Smart Set steps up its online presence

Sure enough, just a few weeks after RW & Co. launched online shopping capabilities (RW & Co., version 2.0), its sister chain Smart Set has opened an online store of its own.

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The two clothing chains are owned by Reitmans (Canada) Ltd., and are the only two banners owned by the company that haven’t had online shopping capabilities until now. So when one of the chains got a new website, I speculated that the other would be quick to follow.

The new website brings Smart Set in line with most of its competitors, as online shopping becomes an increasingly popular channel for modern-day consumers.

Although I strongly believe there will always be a place for bricks and mortar stores – especially for clothing, shoes and accessories that need to be tried on – it’s clearly becoming more important for retailers to have an online presence. Online stores provide both a cost effective sales channel for retailers, and a convenient option for busy consumers.

Given these advantages, I imagine the volume of sales taking place in this electronic channel will undoubtedly continue to grow over time.

As an incentive for shoppers to try out the new website right away, Smart Set is offering free shipping and free returns on all orders, with no minimum purchase required – but only for a limited time.

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RW & Co., version 2.0

Fashion retailer RW & Co. has finally caught up to the vast majority of its competition, with the launch of an online retail store.

The chain, which offers both men’s and women’s clothing aimed at the 25-to-35 age group, has unveiled a “special preview” of its new online store.

The early version of the site only features some of the chain’s items, however it will eventually showcase the full span of merchandise. The site’s shipping policies are fairly standard: delivery costs $7.50 within Canada – or is free to any store of choice – and returns can be made via mail or in store.

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Until now, RW & Co.’s website has been lacking in function. It featured select items from the brand’s latest collections, but didn’t provide price, colour or size information, or the ability to purchase items online.

In today’s internet-addicted society, I’m always surprised when major retailers don’t offer the ability to purchase items online. Consumers have come to expect the ability to browse items online, and to have them shipped to the address of their choice with the click of a button.

Retailers that aren’t yet offering this critical shopping channel risk falling behind their competitors, most of whom not only offer online shopping, but actively promote it through exclusive sales and deals on shipping.

I’m a bit surprised that RW hadn’t developed more of an online presence sooner, given that it’s owned by Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. – one of the largest publicly owned retailers in Canada. The company already operates an online store for its Reitmans women’s clothing chain, along with its Penningtons and Addition Elle plus-size clothing brands. Also, items from the Thyme maternity brand are available via the Babies “R” Us website.

The Smart Set women’s clothing brand, catering to younger shoppers, doesn’t offer e-commerce capabilities, however its website is much more functional than the previous RW & Co. site. The Smart Set site showcases all of the brand’s current merchandise, including price, size and colour information – enough to help shoppers decide whether it’s worth a trip to their nearest store to pick up an item.

Open-toe pump, $90.

Open-toe pump, $90.

With RW joining the ranks of Reitmans’ e-accessible brands, perhaps Smart Set will be next to get online shopping capabilities.

At RW, the launch of the new site comes as the brand also unveils a new collection of footwear. The women’s shoe collection features a small selection of dressy heels and flats in a variety of colours, and they’re among the items that are already available for purchase on the new website.

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A celebration, 60s style

Fashion chain Banana Republic is launching a new collection inspired by the popular TV series Mad Men, and Toronto shoppers are invited to help celebrate.

The new collection was designed in collaboration with Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant, and it certainly reflects the distinct 1960s-era styles portrayed in the show: think bold colours and patterns – including plenty of gingham and stripes – and ultra sharp tailoring.

The limited edition collection includes both men’s and women’s styles.

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On Thursday, February 28th, certain Banana Republic stores across Canada will host cocktail parties in celebration of the new collection. Participating locations in Toronto include Bloor Street West, Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and both stores in the Toronto Eaton Centre. The fun begins at 5 pm.

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Miu Miu moves in with Holts

Designer fashion brand Miu Miu has opened its first Toronto boutique inside Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street store.

The small new boutique is the first point of sale in the Canadian retail market for the international brand, which is owned by the Prada fashion house. The brand operates boutiques around the world.

The new boutique is dedicated entirely to the high-end brand’s collection of handbags and accessories.

The new section of Holts closely resembles Miu Miu’s other international stores, having been designed by Roberto Baciocchi – the Italy-based architect who designed many of the other Prada and Miu Miu boutiques.miu miu

The walls are draped with neutral-coloured damask curtains, and the space is enhanced by mat gold counters, mirrors and crystal display cases.

The space appears to be designed to let the products speak for themselves, and they certainly do. The bags, in particular – many of which come in bright shades of pink, red, blue and orange – stand out boldly in the new boutique.

Miu Miu joins Holt Renfrew’s already extensive roster of high end fashion brands, such as Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Marc Jacobs and Longchamp.

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A prescription for the perfect jeans

For most types of clothing, the shopping process is straightforward enough: find an item you like, in a size that fits.

But with items like suits, jackets and jeans, the process is rarely that easy. Unless you fit a sample size, it can be hard to find a fitted item that flatters your curves nicely.

Shopgirls Gallery Boutique is stepping up to help shoppers with this dilemma – particularly when it comes to jeans. The Queen Street establishment is hosting a ‘Dr. Denim Clinic’, where guests will be receive a body-type diagnosis and a “prescription” for the perfect pair of jeans.

The ‘doctor’, in this case, is Eric Wazana, creator of Second Denim Co.– the Canadian brand which manufacturers the Yoga Jeans sold by Shopgirls.

Second Denim’s Yoga Jeans

Second Denim boasts an impressive collection of jeans, with a selection of different styles that’s almost overwhelming. The pants are available in low, mid and high-rise fits, with styles ranging from ‘super skinny’ to ‘super flared’, and various different lengths and colours.

They’re appropriately dubbed ‘Yoga Jeans’ for their stretchy, comfy material. A proud owner of high-rise skinny Yoga Jeans myself, I can vouch for them: they’re by far the comfiest jeans I own.

Given the variety of available styles, however, I can see how some expert advice could help an intimidated first-time buyer narrow down the options and find the pair of jeans best suited to her body.

As a bonus, clinic guests can enter to win a pair of Yoga jeans, and will be among the first to see the new limited edition Shopgirls Yoga Jeans by Second. Clinic details are below.

What? Dr. Denim Clinic

When? Thursday, Nov. 8th, 6 pm – 9 pm

Where? Shopgirls Gallery Boutique – 1342 Queen St. West, Toronto

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