British luxury heritage brand Belstaff has opened its first freestanding Canadian boutique, at Toronto’s Yorkville Village shopping centre. The 1,100 square foot storefront is operated in partnership with a prominent retail family that has been in business in the area for a generation. Belstaff is the first of several upscale boutiques that opened at Yorkville Village (formerly ‘Hazelton Lanes’) this fall, as the centre regains its position as the heart of the affluent Yorkville community.
Toronto’s new Belstaff boutique features an expansive collection of fashions, footwear and accessories for men, including an impressive selection of outerwear, denim and sweaters for the fall and winter season (Belstaff Kids will launch in the spring of 2018, with more to come). Clothing ranges from the refined to rugged — Belstaff is known to be popular amongst motorcycle enthusiasts, though it’s also perfectly suitable for urban endeavours, be it daywear or a night on the town. The brand was founded in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire in 1924, and it was the first company to use wax cotton in the manufacturing of waterproof apparel for motorcycling. Belstaff operates several boutiques globally and in the United States, Belstaff operates a freestanding store at 814 Madison Avenue in New York City.
Fixtures in the new Toronto Belstaff store were imported from Europe, and stay true to the brand. The store’s design is simple yet impactful — light grey walls contrast with black accents, both inside and out. The store’s facade features an elegant rounded corner that provides optimum visibility. Its location in Yorkville Village is also strategic — fitness concept SoulCycle has an entrance nearby, as does Galerie De Bellefeuille, Jean-Paul Fortin shoes, TNT Concept and North America’s first location for upscale Italian brand Eleventy. At the heart of it all, and directly across from Belstaff, there is the Chase Group’s latest restaurant concept, Palm Lane, which has a seating area that faces directly towards Belstaff.
Belstaff opened in partnership with the Zappacosta family, which has been in the retail business for more than a quarter of a century. It’s very much a family affair — brother and sister team Philip and Leandra Zappacosta act as image and lifestyle consultants, and also run the luxury menswear boutique ‘philip’ that opened at Yorkville Village in the summer of 2016. This fall, as well, the Zappacostas re-opened their upscale multi-brand retail concept ‘Nanni’ next door to Belstaff at Yorkville Village, with a connecting entrance between the two stores. Nanni opened its first store in the former Hazelton Lanes in 1991, and the Zappacostas have had a retail presence at the centre since then.
Belstaff is one of several highly successful brands once carried at the eponymous philip store, and its exceptional sales spearheaded the partnership to open Belstaff’s first freestanding Canadian store. Other brands have also approached the Zappacostas about opening stores in Toronto, and they’re in talks to potentially open other mono-brand luxury boutiques nearby. The family decidedly maintains their retail operations in Toronto’s Yorkville area, which they consider to be ground-zero for luxury retailing in Canada.
Belstaff's CEO, Gavin Haig, explained how the timing was right to open a standalone Belstaff boutique in Canada, given the brand's strong year-over-year growth at various wholesale partners. He praised the Zappacosta family as being entrepreneurial, successful "serious professionals", and how a relationship was struck from their successful wholesale account that led to the Toronto Belstaff boutique partnership.
Mr. Haig said that he expects at least two more Belstaff boutiques in Canada, and that Vancouver is a target because it boasts a strong Asian population that responds to heritage brands.
On Thursday, October 26, Belstaff held a well-attended opening party in partnership with the Zappacosta family at the new Yorkville Village store. For those that missed it, more Belstaff Toronto events will follow.
Landlord First Capital Realty rebranded Hazelton Lanes and the surrounding buildings it owns to be called Yorkville Village in early 2015. The goal is to create a strong retail community with a variety of upscale retailers, restaurants, and neighbourhood amenities. This fall, several other interesting retail concepts are opening at Yorkville Village, as the centre positions itself as an integral gathering point for the community, as well as a destination for visitors locally as well as globally.
*All photos are by Louise Yu.