Tag Archives: H&M

Fashionable finds at Dufferin Mall. Really.

Dufferin Mall is rebranding itself as a fashion destination, and as part of a unique marketing effort to promote its new identity, it sent models onto the streets of Liberty Village this week to get Toronotonians talking about the shopping destination.

The mall is taking steps to distance itself from the reputation it’s had in the past. With discount retailers Wal-Mart and No Frills as the mall’s primary anchors, it has tended to be viewed as a lower-end mall.

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However, the shopping centre has recently invested in upgrading its look, and has attracted a variety of popular fashion retailers along the way. They include: H&M, Le Chateau, Costa Blanca, Aldo, Spring, and Aeropostale, among others.

To promote these and other retailers, this week the mall launched a campaign called ReallyRunway, which effectively turned the streets of Liberty Village into one giant runway.

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Models, dressed head to toe in the latest spring trends from various Dufferin Mall retailers, were sent out onto the streets to showcase the fashions. Each carrying huge bouquets of helium-filled green and black balloons, the models were easy to spot and thus, drew plenty of attention.

The campaign also featured a media kick-off party at trendy Liberty Village lounge Locus 144, where bloggers and fashion media were able to get a closer look at the models’ trendy outfits. They featured such current trends as bright coloured pants, 1960s mod-style fashions and black and white patterns.

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It’s no easy feat for any business – especially a shopping centre – to shed one image and adopt an entirely new one. Once consumers have formed an impression, it tends to stick.

But with its bold marketing campaign, Dufferin Mall seems to be doing a good job of getting people talking. And if it’s successful, it’ll prompt shoppers to give the mall another chance.

I’ve only been to Dufferin Mall a handful of times, but the last time I stopped by, I did notice quite a drastic difference in the mall’s look and feel, and the quality of retailers. I’m sure other shoppers who give the mall a second chance will be similarly impressed.

As another ploy to get shoppers engaged, Dufferin Mall also recently introduced free Wi-Fi access throughout the entire mall – a convenient perk for tech-savvy shoppers.

And, the shopping centre has launched an iPhone app that features a full store directory, contact information and contests, and keeps shoppers informed on current store promotions.

With its new focus, new feel and new services, it’s a new chapter for Dufferin Mall.

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A big ‘night out’ for Toronto fashionistas

Fashionistas will be out in full force this Thursday night, as Toronto retailers partake in an international celebration of all things fashion.

Fashion’s Night Out is coming to the streets of Toronto for the first time this year.

The window display at H&M’s Bloor Street store promotes Fashion’s Night Out. This location, along with the Eaton Centre one, will celebrate the event with drinks, music and special offers.

The international event launched in New York in 2009 as a collaboration between American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, NYC & Company and the City of New York. It now brings together shoppers, retailers, designers, celebrities and media at swanky parties and shopping events in 18 countries around the world.

In Toronto, the celebration will be permeating all corners of the city’s retail scene. Here are some events to check out:

  • The Toronto Eaton Centre is extending mall hours, remaining open until 11 pm, and will host a public fashion show at 7:30 pm in Centre Court. Check it out to see the latest fashions from Stuart Weitzman, Juicy Couture and GAP.
  • Many retailers at Yorkdale Shopping Centre will also stay open until 11 pm, and while they’re there, shoppers can also enjoy presentations on beauty trends, fall and winter fashions and personal style tips.
  • Holt Renfrew’s ‘Hot in the City’ street party kicks off in front of the chain’s Bloor Street store at 7 pm, and runs until 10 pm. But the celebration needn’t stop there – the store will stay open until 11 pm.
  • Nearby in Yorkville, there will be plenty of sales and swanky shopping events. Cumberland will transform into a runway featuring trendy looks from New York fashion week, compliments of Aveda Canada, and MasterCard’s Stylicity Lounge at Hazelton Lanes will feature complimentary styling and make-up applications, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres until 11 pm.
  • Queen Street West will also be buzzing, with celebrations and special offers at retailers such as Rue Pigalle and Preloved.

Check out the full list of participants here.

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Filed under Boutiques, Events, Fashion

End of an era for Esprit

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.

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Filed under Clothing Lines, Fashion, Sales & Deals, Store Closures

Versace, H&M and elbow pads

H&M stores in the city were overflowing with fashionistas this weekend. Versace’s collection for the Swedish retailer was unveiled at certain stores on Saturday, including three Toronto locations: the Eaton Centre, Bloor Street and Yorkdale Mall.

I’ve never seen shoppers quite so eager to make a purchase at H&M. In fact, some were so eager to check out the new designer collection that they pitched tents and camped outside the Bloor Street location Friday night to ensure they’d be the first in the store when the doors opened Saturday morning.

At the Eaton Centre on Saturday afternoon, dozens of ladies waited patiently in line for their chance to see the Versace women’s line for H&M. The retailer fenced off the section, lined it with security guards and let in just 20 shoppers at a time.

Shoppers at H&M's Eaton Centre location eagerly await their chance to see the Versace collection.

Shoppers were limited to buying just two items each, but it appears that hasn’t stopped people from buying merchandise to resell online at sharply inflated prices in the days since the collection hit shelves.

At this rate, any remaining pieces in the collection won’t last long, so stop by one of the stores sooner rather than later if you want the chance to add some of these limited edition Versace items to your wardrobe. If the crowds are anywhere as large as they were on Saturday, you might want to bring your elbow pads.

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Retail Realm on the Road: Greece

Apologies for the hiatus of posts, but recent travels abroad have left me with limited access to Internet.

I’m quickly catching up on the latest retail news here in Toronto, but in the meantime, I’ve compiled some fun facts about the shopping scene in my latest travel destination: Greece.

Top three items to buy in Greece:

One of Athens' many shoe stores.

1. SHOES. Boutiques selling shoes, sandals and flip-flops are everywhere in this country, and each shop seems to be overflowing with as many pairs as is physically possible for it to carry. It’s a great opportunity to pick up styles you won’t find here in Canada, and the prices are generally very reasonable.

2. Jewellery. Wherever you are in Greece, you won’t have to travel far to find a jewellery boutique. Many boast hand-made pieces featuring distinct Ancient Greek designs, such as the meander, the spiral, and the ‘mati’ evil eye design, which is believed to protect you from evil spirits.

3. Soaps and lotions. The abundance of olive oil in the Mediterranean region had led to a wide array of oil-based soaps and skincare products that moisturize and gently cleanse your skin, without the artificial colours and additives found in too many products on the market today.

Other tips:

Ermou Street, Athens.

> If you’re looking for familiar shops such as H&M, Mango, Sephora and Esprit, swing by Ermou Street in Athens. Sure, you can visit these shops anytime here in Canada, but sometimes their selection merchandise varies between countries, so you may be able to find something unique.

> When shopping for souvenirs, bargain! Not all shopkeepers are flexible on price, but many are, so it’s worth trying to negotiate a lower price. If you’re friendly and you chat with them for a few minutes, you’ll be surprised how often they’ll offer you a “special price.”

Wherever your travels bring you this summer, happy shopping! Have a safe and enjoyable summer.

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