Italian luxury brand Prada plans to substantially grow its Canadian operations over the next 12 months. It will significantly expand and renovate its ‘Mink Mile’ flagship in Toronto, as well as enlarge and replace several existing concessions. Prada will also open a second freestanding Canadian flagship in Vancouver later this year, spanning two floors.
Sources confirm that Prada’s Toronto Bloor Street flagship will substantially expand by adding a second level. Located at 131 Bloor Street West in The Colonnade, Prada’s Canadian flagship currently measures 5,890 square feet. The store will expand by taking space currently occupied by The Japan Foundation, which occupies almost 12,800 square feet on the complex’s second floor. The Japan Foundation will vacate The Colonnade for Prada’s Bloor Street expansion, which is expected to be completed in early 2016. It is unclear how much of The Japan Foundation’s space will be occupied by Prada, as sources we spoke with indicated that neighbouring Chanel may also seek more space in the complex.
Sources at Prada said the expansion would be ‘substantial’, with one salesperson saying that the store would exceed 15,000 square when completed. We cannot confirm that number at this time.
Prada will open its second freestanding Canadian location in several months at the southeast corner of Alberni Street and Thrulow Street in Vancouver. Located within The Carlyle retail complex, the 8,200 square foot two-level Prada flagship will neighbour brands such as De Beers, Tory Burch, and Moncler. Across the street, Brunello Cucinelli, Versace and Strellson will open over the next several months as well, as Vancouver’s ‘Luxury Zone’ grows to rival Bloor Street’s cachet.
Prada currently operates several concessions within luxury retailer Holt Renfrew. Sources say that Prada may open an expanded ground-floor concession with a streetfront entrance at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street flagship, featuring accessories, footwear and ready-to-wear. The Prada concession within Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver store is expected to expand as the store grows and renovates, and sources at Holt Renfrew say that Prada may also open substantial locations within Holt’s Mississauga Square One location when it opens in the spring of 2016, as well as at an expanded Ogilvy/Holt’s in Montreal in 2017.
Farla Efros, President of leading retail consultancy HRC Advisory, said in an interview that despite the large size of the new Canadian Prada stores, the brand would be best to continue focusing on accessories and footwear. She noted that Prada’s bags and shoes are at a reasonable designer entry price, as are the brand’s sunglasses and other small accessories. Women are increasingly spending less on clothing and more on accessories, thus Prada’s ready-to-wear targets only a ‘certain group’ of women, according to Ms. Efros. Overall, Ms. Efros said that it’s important for Prada to continue investing in the brand’s brick-and-mortar operations to ensure that it remains relevant, in light of increased competition and a recent downward trend in Prada’s earnings.
Saks Fifth Avenue’s first two Canadian stores are expected to open as early as December of 2015. We are unaware if Prada has agreed to operate out of either. Saks will open its 150,000 square foot Canadian flagship within the Toronto Eaton Centre Hudson’s Bay building, as well as 132,000 square foot unit at Toronto’s Sherway Gardens.
Several of Nordstrom’s American locations feature Nordstrom shops-in-stores, both for accessories as well as women’s ready-to-wear. It remains to be seen if any Nordstrom locations will include Prada. Nordstrom recently confirmed that its Vancouver Pacific Centre and Toronto Eaton Centre stores will be among six downtown flagships for the company.