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.
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.
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.
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.”
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;
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;
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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 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
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 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:
Check out the full list of participants here.
Crate and Barrel’s little sister is moving to town.
CB2, an urban furniture chain owned by the popular U.S.-based furniture giant, is opening its first Canadian store at Queen and Bathurst tomorrow.
CB2 operates 11 stores in big cities throughout the U.S., where it sells affordable and modern furniture and home accessories that are especially well suited to apartments, condos and lofts.
The chain’s merchandise includes sofas, desks, beds and other furniture, along with rugs, pillows, lighting fixtures, artwork and a huge variety of other accessories. Items are colourful and fun, and incorporate new trends of all kinds.
A condo-dweller myself, I’m personally very excited about the arrival of this new destination for modern furniture.
I’m a fan of Crate and Barrel, and I’m always looking for ways to brighten up my home. So I look forward to seeing what its sister chain has to offer.
The store will fit in well at Queen and Bathurst – a neighbourhood that’s already home to plenty of furniture and home accessory stores, like BLVD Interiors, Morba and Design Republic.
Once the Toronto store is up and running, Canada will get its second CB2 store in Vancouver next month. Live elsewhere? No problem. You can now shop remotely at CB2.com in Canadian dollars.
A pair of independent jewellery stores on Queen Street West is coming of age. Sister boutiques Made You Look celebrated their 10th anniversary on Thursday, suggesting that their unique business model is working – and based on the crowds that came out for the occasion – it’s working well.
Made You Look is not your typical retailer. Not only do the boutiques sell jewellery; they feature in-store workshops where jewellery is handmade by some of the designers themselves.
The two shops are positioned directly across the street from one another on Queen Street near Dufferin. One specializes in elegant, sophisticated jewellery, including wedding and engagement rings; while the other carries pieces that are more fun, funky and fashionable.
Together, the two shops carry items from more than 100 local independent jewellery designers; some of which rent space in the stores and use it to manufacture the shiny items that are sold both at Made You Look and at other retailers.
The business model lets shoppers see firsthand where the merchandise is made, and who’s making it.
The concept is particularly popular among customers who are seeking custom-made items for a wedding, anniversary or other special occasion. The accessibility of the designers means customers can easily sit down with them to develop the customized piece they want.
Despite an annoying Queen Street streetcar divergence on the night of the anniversary party, the soiree was very well attended. Guests sipped cocktails and nibbled on appetizers, and were encouraged to browse the offerings at both locations.
There’s clearly plenty of talent in Toronto’s accessory design marketplace, and it appears this destination for this merchandise is here to stay.