Tag Archives: Shoes

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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Footwear, fashion and a glimpse of the past

One of Western Canada’s footwear institutions has made its debut in Toronto, with the unveiling of an impressive new Queen Street boutique that’s as rich in design as it is in merchandise.Gravity Storefront

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.

Gravity ShoesAltogether, 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.Gravity Clothes

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.

Gravity ChandelierThe 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.

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A cozy new store for a coveted brand

Luxury fashion brand Tory Burch has opened its first Canadian boutique at Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

The company, which launched in 2004, is known for its “preppy bohemian” clothing, handbags and shoes. Some of the brand’s products are available at high-end retailers such as Holt Renfrew, but the new Yorkdale store, which opened in May, gives Toronto customers a one-stop shopping destination for everything Tory Burch.

The boutique has the feel of a cozy and luxurious walk-in closet, with merchandise displayed on shelves, cubbyholes and inset racks; plenty of mirrors; and seating nooks for tired shoppers.

The shop carries a selection of clothing, handbags and shoes, with the signature cutout Tory Burch logo splashed across items throughout the store.

The chain operates dozens of stores throughout the U.S., along with several international boutiques in markets such as Dubai, South Korea and Italy.

The brand arrives in Toronto after having steadily gained popularity among fashionistas in the past few years. In the past six months in particular, shoes and bags adorned with the recognizable logo seem to have completely infiltrated Toronto’s fashion scene.

Tory Burch’s success has been helped by the fact that the brand’s merchandise is regularly sported by high profile celebrities, such as Blake Lively, Paris Hilton and Kristen Bell.

As a shopper who appreciates a nice pair of flats, I’ve become a fan of Tory Burch footwear, in particular (the ‘Reva Ballet Flats’ have been among the brand’s most popular items) and so I’m excited to see this brand become even more accessible to Toronto shoppers.

Now, if only I had my own closet as big and well-stocked as this one.

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Vintage revisited

Fast fashion, step aside: a new Toronto boutique is proving that some fashions have a shelf life much longer than the items constantly rotating through the shelves at H&M and Zara.

Lookbook Collective, a cute new vintage and used clothing store at Bloor and Bathurst, offers a carefully curated selection of clothing, shoes and accessories. Catering to both women and men, the shop features fashions from decades’ past which reflect trends that have reappeared on runways as of late.

A handful of pleated skirts featured at the store last week, for instance, showcase a trend dating as far back as the 1930s that’s recently come back in a big way.

Bargain-hunters will find an impressive roster of designer labels in the store at very affordable prices. And accessory-lovers will hit the jackpot with the boutique’s collection of bags, belts, hats and jewellery.

In an era when it’s become common to buy an item and wear it just a handful of times before tossing it out, Lookbook Collective offers a welcome reminder that some apparel is built to last. Although some trends are short-lived, most make their way back into the fashion cycle sooner or later. Vintage shops like this one make it easy – and affordable – to celebrate those trends and re-integrate them into your wardrobe as they reappear on runways time and again.

At the official launch of the boutique last week, vintage fans and bargain hunters alike crowded into the small shop to browse the offerings while sipping on cocktails and snacking on oysters. Based on its warm welcome into the neighbourhood, it appears as though Toronto shoppers are eager to revisit the vintage looks that Lookbook has to offer.

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StyleSense shoe stores shut their doors

StyleSense has sold its last pair of shoes.

All three StyleSense stores in the GTA, owned by The TJX Companies, Inc. – the same company that operates Winners, Home Sense and Marshalls – have been shut down.

The stores, located at Vaughan Mills, Oakville Place and Heartland Town Centre in Mississauga, had only been open for about three years. Large and spacious, they carried a huge – and I mean HUGE – selection of brand name shoes and boots, along with bags, hats, scarves and other accessories, at marked down prices.

The stores seemed to be busy whenever I stopped in, so I was suprised to hear this week that the company had decided to close all three locations.

TJX brought its Marshall chain to Canada for the first time last year (More discount fashion for the GTA), and I gather that the closure of StyleSense is part of the company’s effort to focus on beefing up this new brand in Canada. Like Winners, Marshalls stores carry mainly clothing, but they also have a hefty selection of shoes.

Still, the shoe selection in the Marshalls locations that I’ve seen have been disappointingly small, and way less organized than the impressive stock at StyleSense. I’ve found some amazing deals on shoes at StyleSense in the past couple years, and I’m sad to see the stores disappear.

But perhaps I should give Marshalls another chance. It looks like the chain is here to stay, as it’s actively growing its footprint on this side of the border. The chain now has six store in the GTA, and six more Ontario stores are slated to open at the end of March. The new locations in the GTA will  include:

  • Upper James St. in Hamilton
  • Burlington Power Centre in Burlington
  • Taunton and Harmony in Oshawa

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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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