A Continuous Lean’s Michael Williams and Club Monaco’s Aaron Levine are changing Club Monaco’s image

A Continuous Lean’s Michael Williams and Club Monaco’s Aaron Levine are changing Club Monaco’s image

Aaron Levine and Michael Williams (Image: Kevin Naulls) 

We just popped into the new men’s shop at Club Monaco, the first of its kind in the world (we’re number one!), with an expected opening in New York next fall (they’re number two!). Launching in Toronto is an effort on Club Monaco’s part to reconnect with the history of the brand (it was Canadian once) as it attempts to reintroduce itself to women and men in North America. It’s a slow build, but A Continuous Lean’s Michael Williams and menswear designer Aaron Levine say the beauty of having carte blanche to define the clientele is that they can pick what they like and go with it. They chose Wolverine and Mark McNairy footwear, Tanner Goods products and more, not because that is necessarily what every man is after, but because they just liked the product (they’re even carrying Canadian brand Aether). They used the same philosophy when working with the design team to create the men’s shop on Bloor Street and achieved a men’s club vibe using vintage pieces that were sourced from “all over the place.”

Not only is it the launch of the shop, but Club Monaco has also introduced the Made In America collaboration with Williams, which includes a variety of suiting, shirting (oxfords, plaid) and blazers. We asked him how the brand was handling the criticism that it is an American-focused collection for a once-Canadian brand, and he said, “We’ve noticed the criticism, but there are still people who appreciate it. We’ve created things that we think men will like, and these prices aren’t what you’d expect.” He and Levine also said that there are early rumblings of working more closely with Canada on future projects, but that’s as much as they could reveal at this time. As for what defines men’s style in Toronto, Williams says “there really isn’t anything” and that “it is very much like New York, Europe and Tokyo—there is no longer this requirement to live in a major city to develop style, because we can access information from wherever we are.”