French luxury footwear brand Christian Louboutin has opened its Canadian flagship in Toronto. Located at 99 Yorkville Avenue, the two-level store features extensive collections for both women and men. Because each store is designed individually, Toronto’s Louboutin is unlike any in the world.
The store's design concept and fixture design were by London/Los Angeles-based Household, while Toronto-based Quadrangle acted as the local architects in collaboration with Louboutin and Household. The store spans 2,625 square feet with women’s collections downstairs, and men’s upstairs. Drawing from the character of the Victorian building, the store’s design is inspired by an ‘enchanted forest’ with floor-to-ceiling off-white ‘trees’ lining the space on both floors. Silver birch wallpaper sets the woodland scene while arched niches present shoes artistically.
The downstairs space features products on mirrored-top fretwork display plinths, inspired by “fruits of the forest nestled amongst the trees”, according to Louboutin. A central “forest clearing” presents products in illuminated niches, with antique brass ‘branches’ extending to the ceiling. Antique brass fretwork screens encircle the plinths, segmenting the space to create the feeling of a woodland glade. In the back of the store, double-height forest trees reach up through the atrium, wrapping around the stairs to lead upstairs to the men’s floor.
The second-floor men’s space is inspired by “a cabin-in-the-woods” feel, featuring darker colours and casual vintage furniture. Among the white ‘trees’ the product plinths are angled and geometric, with hero plinths in walnut or nickel, and wall panels covered in birch bark wallpaper. A feature wall housing men’s bags is designed to create a canopy effect, with masculine dark walnut wood.
Jordan Karp of Paracom Realty represented Christian Louboutin in partnership with Jeffrey Paisner of Ripco Real Estate in New York City. Louboutin studied the market carefully for over two years before settling on the "truly unique and special freestanding building", said Mr. Karp.
"The 60,000-square-foot retail/office complex on Yorkville Avenue, located in the heart of the most upscale neighbourhood in Toronto, was the perfect fit for Christian Louboutin. The brand will be the first international luxury fashion retailer to take up space there, right across from the upcoming Chanel store and close to the many residential condos being developed in the area," said Steven Alikakos, president, Canada at RKF and exclusive leasing agent for the property on behalf of the owner Cumberland Private Wealth Management. "We are working to bring other fashion retailers to the complex ideally situated in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood which offers a unique blend of design boutiques, fashionable restaurants, five-star hotels and world-class galleries.”
As Mr. Alikakos mentioned above, Louboutin is directly across the street from the future location of Chanel, which will open an 8,700 square foot store in early 2017 in space formerly occupied by Teatro Verde at 100 Yorkville Avenue. Other luxury brands are in talks for retail space in the immediate area.
Christian Louboutin also operates three Canadian shop-in-store concessions. Its first Canadian concession for women opened in Toronto late 2013 inside Yorkdale Shopping Centre's Holt Renfrew, followed by a separate men’s concession in the same store several months ago. In September of 2015, Louboutin opened a concession within Vancouver's new Nordstrom flagship.
A source at Louboutin confirms that the brand will further expand its Canadian presence in Vancouver. Two separate Louboutin concessions, one for women and a separate one for men, will open as part of the expansion of Vancouver's Holt Renfrew flagship at CF Pacific Centre. The existing Nordstrom concession will also remain open.
The Christian Louboutin brand was founded by its namesake designer in 1991 in Paris. Known for its red soled shoes, Louboutin has since expanded to include handbags, men's footwear, and a range of nail lacquers. The brand operates freestanding stores in nine U.S. regions, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles (Costa Mesa, Santa Monica, West Hollywood), Las Vegas, Miami, New York City and San Francisco.