Year in Review: international brands had a love affair with Toronto
Condo developers aren’t the only ones salivating over Toronto’s buoyant economy. A raft of international retailers set up shop this year, hoping to capitalize on the city’s boom times. They flocked to malls and retail strips, and every month brought another announcement of a big brand heading this way (with Nordstrom and Target also slated to open Toronto outposts, the trend isn’t showing signs of slowing). Below, a roundup of the most high-profile stores that opened in the last 12 months.
Yorkdale Shopping Centre
The mammoth North Toronto mall attracted some of the most luxury brands to the city thanks to its staggeringly high sales-per-square-foot rate and a flashy new expansion in late November. British clothier Ted Baker London and American handbag specialist Kate Spade New York opened their first-ever Canadian stores side-by-side at the same time as the much-anticipated Canadian debut of Loft. Microsoft launched its Canadian retail operation in a large space that borrows a few tricks from rival Apple, and American boho-prep label Tory Burch opened its first Toronto store in early May.
Of course, Yorkdale’s downtown rival wasn’t left out. Its Ann Taylor store opened a few weeks earlier than the Yorkdale location and the Eaton Centre netted J.Crew’s first men’s store in Canada, alongside a fully stocked women’s store. Massimo Dutti, a slightly more upmarket retailer from Zara’s parent company, got going in early September in the same third-level corridor as J.Crew and Ann Taylor, while TopShop’s 19,000-square-foot store in The Bay launched a few weeks later.
Of the new arrivals to Yorkville, the Porsche Design store, full of ultra-extravagant knickknacks, best fits the neighbourhood’s ritzy reputation. The bohemian womenswear at Anthropologie’s sister store Free People harks back to Yorkville’s hippie past, while Swiss retailer Strellson gives hip young men a place to buy slim suits and European-style sportswear.
Various downtown locations
Elsewhere in the city, two big-box giants—Bed, Bath and Beyond and Marshalls—opened their first downtown locations, and Crate and Barrel’s younger, condo-focused brand CB2 set up shop in Big Bop’s former space on Queen Street West. Finally, magazine-turned-retail operation Monocle chose Toronto for its fifth store and bureau.