Playful British-based menswear brand Simon Carter has relocated its only free-standing North American location. We spoke with its North American representative, Cedric St. Louis, to discuss why he moved his store to one of Toronto's hottest up-and-coming retail areas.
Founded in London in 1985, the Simon Carter brand features a full range of formal and casual clothing, as well as accessories such as cufflinks, watches, jewellery and luggage. Known for its 'wit and whimsy', the brand features unexpected fabric combinations, splashes of colour, luxurious linings and winsome motifs. Simon Carter has only seven free-standing stores in the world, with six locations in the U.K. and one in Canada.
Many were surprised when Canada became home to the brand's first store outside of Great Britain. Simon Carter's initial Toronto location opened in August of 2007 at 754 Queen Street West, in Toronto's trendy 'West Queen West' area.
Last month, Mr. St. Louis relocated his store to an intimate space at 1493 Dundas Street West. Measuring only 500 square feet, the new store is smaller than the former Queen Street location. The new store lacks suits and tailored goods carried at the previous store, though selections are available for weddings and other formal occasions. Mr. St. Louis explained how during his search for a new location, Dundas Street West had "something about it", prompting him to sign a lease for a retail space under signage reading 'Dufferin Smoke Shop'. Though the historical signage remains, the original smoke shop shuttered long ago. Locals asked the building's landlord to keep the iconic smoke shop signage, creating a landmark while retaining some of the area's history.
We asked Mr. St. Louis if any more Canadian Simon Carter locations are in the works. He explained how he's carefully watching the Canadian retail market before making any decisions. He recognizes that there is considerable competition in the market, including new mono-brand entrants as well as expanding larger retailers such as Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen and Saks Fifth Avenue. Mr. St. Louis mentioned how Simon Carter has seen success with concessions within the U.K. and although he's receptive to the idea, there are no immediate plans to open Simon Carter shops-in-stores within any North American department stores.