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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Gap’s Bloor Street store has recently undergone a facelift, and the retailer celebrated the store’s new look with Toronto shoppers this week.
With the renovations just barely complete, the grand unveiling on Wednesday revealed a bright and fresh new feel. The main floor, which features women’s apparel and the Gap Body collection, is nicely spaced out, with a cluster of cash registers in the center of the space and fitting rooms at the back.
Currently, bright coloured clothing permeates all three levels of the store. The Gap’s spring and summer collections are dominated by bold shades and fun patterns, from gingham, plaid and stripes to mini animal and insect shapes. Even the collections of shoes, belts and other accessories are far from neutral, boasting all colours of the rainbow.
At the re-launch event, hosted in collaboration with Fashion Magazine, shoppers sipped on cocktails while browsing the newest fashions.
For anyone who missed out, this weekend is the ideal time to check out the revamped store: nearly everything in the store will be on sale as part of a weekend-long promotion.
The store is located at 60 Bloor Street West, at Bay.
French Connection appears to have vacated the premises of its Bloor Street store.
Upon passing the central Yonge and Bloor location last week, I noticed signs plastered on the windows of the boutique announcing its closure. And already, the merchandise seems to have been cleared from the store’s floors.
The international fashion retailer has three other locations in Toronto, including Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Queen Street West, and the Toronto Eaton Centre, along with a few locations in the surrounding suburbs, so shoppers still have options for getting their French Connection fix.
But I was surprised to see the brand vacate a location in such a central and sought-after part of the city, well known for high-end fashion retailers.
The Bloor Street store was large, with two storeys of merchandise, and from what I could tell, it was usually busy with shoppers.
With rental rates in that neighbourhood more expensive than any other retail strip in Canada, however, perhaps the cost of operating the location became too much for the retailer.
I’m curious to see what will pop up in this coveted location next.
Gravitypope, an independently owned retailer that began in the footwear business and more recently expanded into fashion, opened its first Ontario store last week. It represents the sixth store for the chain, with all five other stores located in Alberta and B.C.
Gravitypope is known for its wide selection of footwear brands, among them: Clarks, Hugo Boss, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen, Toms, See by Chloe, and many more. The company’s collections of clothing and accessory labels are similarly extensive.
Altogether, the Toronto store carries more than 100 brands. This explains the vast size of the new boutique: with three floors of retail space, the store is quite a bit larger than most other boutiques in that part of the city.
Probably the most breath-taking part of the store is the vast quantity of shoes spread out across the main floor. Different styles of shoes and boots line the walls of the boutique, and are scattered across display tables everywhere you look.
A variety of men’s clothing can be found in a separate section on the main floor, and the second floor houses a selection of women’s clothing and accessories. But the shoe collection is clearly the main event in this store.
Layered beneath the merchandise are a variety of elegant design elements that add some serious charm to this boutique. The shop is decked out with chandeliers, antique mirrors, display cases and other charming artifacts that provide a look and feel reminiscent of times’ past.
Even the steps leading to the second level are nothing ordinary – they’re comprised of a 1930s’ Art Deco staircase, made of solid brass and round glass inserts, which was reclaimed from the Buenos Aires Paramount Theatre. Wow.
The store definitely caters to wealthier shoppers. Upon browsing, I was disappointed to find that most of the merchandise was too pricey for me to justify. Most of the shoes I saw were at least $300, and even most accessories boasted price tags of $100 or more. Many of the items I saw were upwards of $600.
Since the boutique is right around the corner from the high-end vintage retail strip on Lower Ossington, perhaps Gravitypope’s pricey offerings will resonate well among the shoppers in this part of town. But the store certainly isn’t for everybody.
Despite the high price of the goods, a visit to this unique new store is worthwhile – particularly if you have an appreciation historical design.
Toronto’s about to lose a major international clothing retailer. Esprit, the global fashion chain with more than 800 stores around the world, has announced that it plans to close all of its North American stores due to dwindling profits in Canada and the U.S.
Esprit operates 90 directly managed stores in North America. Toronto locations include a store at the Eaton Centre, one at Yorkdale Shopping Centre and one at Sherway Gardens, along with various other locations on the outskirts of the city. Most of them will close in the next week or two.
At a time when many international retail chains are flourishing in Canada, it seems unusual for one of these major chains to be checking out of this country’s retail business entirely.
But clearly, the company hasn’t done a very good job of keeping Canadian shoppers coming back. Same-store sales were down by 7.7% at Canadian Esprit stores in the year ending June 30, 2011. And last week, the company said its profits in the first half of the year were down 74% from last year.
Esprit has been operating in Canada and the U.S. for many years, and I can recall a time when the stores were very popular shopping destinations, especially among teenaged girls. They carried trendy fashions and the aisles of the stores would be bustling with shoppers.
During visits to the mall in the past couple years, however, I’ve noticed far fewer shoppers frequenting Esprit stores.
It’s not too often I find fashions that I personally like at Esprit. And when an item at Esprit does catch my eye, it’s often too pricey for what I consider it to be worth.
In a world where fast-fashion retailers seem to thrive (think H&M, where it’s not uncommon to find trendy tops priced at less than $10), it’s tough for other fashion retailers to stay competitive, unless quality or label status sets them apart.
My guess is, this type of competition proved to be too much for Esprit – at least in North America. The brand seems to be holding up well in Europe and Asia, so Canadian shoppers will still be have access to the brand on travels abroad.
In the meantime, if you’re an Esprit fan, now would be the time to stock up on this company’s clothing. There are currently huge sales at the company’s Canadian stores – to the tune of 70% off all merchandise – as it aims to clear out its remaining merchandise.
But don’t expect any kind of orderly shopping experience. The Esprit location that I recently visited didn’t even have clothes on hangers – what was left of the picked-over merchandise was overflowing out of boxes on tables and on the ground. Some boxes appeared to be labelled – “Men’s Shirts” or “Women’s Size Large”, for example – but most were a messy mishmash of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, along with lingerie. So, bargain hunters, be prepared to truly have to hunt for an Esprit bargain.
Banana Republic’s Yorkdale store was bustling on Tuesday as plenty of shoppers showed up for a special shopping event hosted by the Globe and Mail’s Globe Recognition program.
Shoppers enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as they browsed the retailer’s winter collection at the enormous Yorkdale store.
Guests who were in the mood to splurge received a special discount on merchandise, and walked away with a special gift with purchase – a classy new Banana Republic umbrella.
The event also featured a presentation by Globe and Mail fashion editor Tiyana Grulovic, who discussed some of the biggest trends this season.
Here are some of her tips for fashionistas:
– Cords are back in a big way – literally. Grulovic recommends wide-legged cords for cozy look.
– Sequins and metallics are everywhere this season. If they’re a bit too bold for the office, Grulovic suggests choosing a knit dress with a touch of metallic thread (like this one) for a more subdued sparkle that’s appropriate for both work and play.
– To complete an outift, layer on the necklaces. The more the merrier!