Women’s office-wear retailers are battling it out on the third floor of the Eaton Centre: international chains J.Crew and Massimo Dutti both recently opened outposts there, and U.S. retailer Ann Taylor launched its first international store along the same corridor early last month (that’s in addition to the existing Club Monaco and Banana Republic locations). Ann Taylor is generally thought to be stodgier than the other two new brands, which probably compete more directly with its more casual spinoff, Ann Taylor Loft. However, the the well-constructed suits, separates, accessories and shoes are hipper—and the clientele younger—than its reputation would suggest.
That’s because Ann Taylor underwent an image revamp a few years ago that saw Lisa Axelson, formerly of Club Monaco, take over as lead designer. Her influence is evident in the sleek blazers, pencil skirts and pumps, as well as a push into evening and casual clothing. The garments are far from avant garde, but they will take you from the workday into evening with polish. A second location—as well as a Loft store—will be opening in the newly revitalized Yorkdale Shopping Centre in mid-November.