For retailer Kit and Ace, luxury is a science, and bricks and mortar an art

For retailer Kit and Ace, luxury is a science, and bricks and mortar an art

The desire for luxury has always been a big driver of innovation, such as when French engineer Count Hilaire de Chardonnet caused a sensation at the 1889 Paris Exhibition with his artificial silk, a solution to the crisis that saw ladies and gents doing without the luxe fabric because something was destroying French silk worms. That same motivation is at work today, as technology transforms luxury clothing’s offerings and even the very idea of luxury itself. Whereas much of luxury clothing has been concerned only with a look, the single-minded pursuit of aesthetics is no longer good enough. Today, we want our luxury to look good and feel good. And technology is opening doors to previously unimaginable experiences.


Enter Vancouver-based Kit and Ace, a new clothing brand that is disrupting both traditional notions of luxury dressing, along with the retail experience itself. Kit and Ace was started in Vancouver by former lululemon lead designer, Shannon Wilson, along with JJ Wilson, her stepson (and son of lululemon founder Chip Wilson). The original idea for Kit and Ace came to Shannon when she saw a gap in the market for luxury clothing that was as comfortable to wear and as easy to care for as athletic clothing.

Working with an Italian textile mill, Shannon spent two years reimaging the one fabric she felt was synonymous with luxury: cashmere. The result was a proprietary material called Technical Cashmere (also called Qemir), a unique interlace of cashmere and performance fibres that feels every bit as cozy and comfy as pure cashmere but, unlike pure cashmere, has stretch and is durable and machine washable. In short, it’s luxury you can live in.

Qemir™ is the first of many Technical Luxury™ fabrics the company plans to create to redefine luxury clothing for a new generation. Combining the sumptuous look, feel and drape of silk and cashmere with comfort, easy care and superior performance, Kit and Ace’s curated assortment of elevated basics pushes the boundaries of what was previously thought possible. Flowing tanks, darted tees and tailored pants allow for self-expression, yet are always polished and performance-ready.


Innovation is such a core part of Kit and Ace’s ethos, it extends to every part of their business model, including their shops. Each space is inspired by the experience that patrons of art galleries have. They offer customers a highly local experience, a result of collaborations with local artists and designers. At the new Toronto flagship store in Yorkville, shoppers will find furniture designed by JM&Sons, lighting features by Radar Design and fresh florals from Patchouli, alongside rotating displays of local artists’ work. The store also has a Technical Atelier, where customers can choose monogramming and complimentary tailoring by designers-in-residence.

Kit and Ace also use innovative experiences to bring customers and the brand together. Each shop hosts monthly supper clubs where guests gather around a large square table—a signature feature of their shops—to enjoy food and drink from local vendors and share ideas. The Yorkville location includes Sorry Coffee Co., one of Kit and Ace’s two cafés (the other is in London) where customers can fuel up on premium roasts sipped from white paper cups printed with original artwork by emerging local artists.

The in-store experience transitions seamlessly to their website. There, shoppers can read the Brief, Kit and Ace’s hyper-cool online magazine. Photo-filled stories on everything from the hottest parties to trends in arts and design, keep customers connected with the latest in their city and beyond.

Innovative clothing, breakthrough shopping experiences and customer connections are all part of Kit and Ace’s plan to revolutionize retail. And while technology makes much of this possible—from cashmere you can throw into a washer and dryer, to an unrivalled shopping experience online and in shops—Kit and Ace understands that innovation is a never-ending process and forms the basis of the future, wherever it might take them.


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