Saks Fifth Avenue has unveiled an impressive store in Calgary, spanning about 115,000 square feet over two floors. It’s Saks’ third full-line store in Canada — Saks entered Canada in February of 2016 when it opened two stores in Toronto. Saks has provided details including departments and designers that are carried in the Calgary store, as well as many of the photos in this article.
Located at CF Chinook Centre, the new Saks Fifth Avenue is a far cry from its previous tenant — Target, which occupied the space briefly and prior to that, a Zellers store which had been there for years. The entire space has been overhauled with a new exterior and interiors, coordinate by HBC's Store Design and Planning Team along with Edmonton-based engineering firm Stantec.
The new Calgary Saks features fashions for women and men, as well as an expansive roster of services that one would expect from such a luxury store. This spring, a new full-service restaurant will open, as well as a beauty salon. While it features most of the product categories and services found at most Saks stores, the Calgary location lacks the food halls (operated by Pusateri’s Fine Foods) found in Saks’ two Toronto stores.
The store’s layout is conveniently spread over two levels as follows:
- Handbags (including several soft shops for luxury brands as described below)
- Jewelry Viewing Room
- Men’s Store (fashions, footwear and accessories)
- Men’s Lounge
- 10022-SHOE (Women’s Shoes)
- Private Shopping Suites
- Women’s Ready-to-Wear
- Women’s Denim
- Fur Salon
- Beauty Salon (Opening this Spring)
- in-store restaurant 'Buffo' (Opening this Spring)
Buffo will be the name of the new in-store restaurant that will be operated by Toronto-based Oliver & Bonacini. It’s described as being “inspired by traditional recipes and quality ingredients,” with “the simplicity and generosity of rustic Italian cooking”. Buffo will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, including pizzas, pastas, local meats and seafood.
The beauty salon operator for the Calgary Saks has yet to be released. Interestingly, a beauty salon was supposed to have opened at Toronto’s downtown Saks in 2016 but to this day, the space sits vacant. A John Barrett salon was originally supposed to open but Barrett pulled the plug on a major Saks expansion before Saks opened in Canada amid controversy and litigation.
Calgary’s Saks includes various personalized services. Besides the private shopping suites mentioned above, the store includes styling services, custom creations/in-house alterations, made-to-measure and tailoring experts, treatment rooms and even private shopping parties.
This month, the store is also showcasing a temporary installation of local artwork from Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art and Christine Klassen Gallery. Art will be shown in-store and in the windows throughout by artists including Johnathan Forrest, Yechel Gagnon, Birgit Piskor, Ulrich Panzer and Rocio Graham, among others.
Saks has provided a list of brands carried in the new Calgary store. It would appear that many of the luxury brands carried at Saks in Toronto are not available in the Calgary store, and another interesting feature to note is that the Calgary accessory boutiques appear to be ‘soft shops’, insofar as they feature interiors that are not designed specifically for each brand. This could be a smart move to test designers in the Calgary market and is a contrast to Saks in Toronto, which features an expansive offering of hard shops from some of the world’s top luxury brands.
List/Description of Brands Carried + Observations
Saks listed designers carried in its women’s shoes and accessories departments. Accessory boutiques such as Valentino, Givenchy, MCM, Saint Laurent and Loewe line the walls of the expansive handbag space, and each of these boutiques are essentially spaces with product and nameplates for each brand. Saks has lumped its women’s shoe and accessory brands together and as of press time, had not responded to a request for a breakdown. Here’s their list:
Alice & Olivia, Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Alexandre Birman*, Bao Bao, APL, Aquatalia, Balenciaga, Céline, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Ferragamo, Gianvito Rossi*, Givenchy, Gucci, Isabel Marant, Jimmy Choo, Joie, Kate Spade, Manolo Blahnik, Marc Jacobs, MCM, Moncler, Loewe, MZ Wallace, New Balance, Nicholas Kirkwood, Oliver Peoples, Puma, Prada, Rag & Bone, Ray Ban, Rebecca Minkoff, Robert Clergerie, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, See by Chloé*, Schutz, Sorel, Strathberry, Stuart Weitzman, Tom Ford, UGGS, Valentino, Veja, and Vince.
Brands with a * are exclusive to Saks in Calgary.
The women’s shoe department is called 10022-SHOE, a nod to the postal code of Saks’ Manhattan flagship which features an impressive footwear hall that takes up the majority of one floor and about 30,000 square feet.
Saks’ Calgary women’s ready-to-wear designer listing appears to lack many of the pricey luxury brands carried in Toronto’s Saks stores, such as Azzedine Alaia, Oscar de la Renta, Dior and others. The Calgary designer listing as supplied appears to be primarily contemporary in nature:
Cinq a Sept, Jane Post*, Barbour, Canada Goose, Moose Knuckles, Mackage, Elie Tahari, Lafayette 148 New York, Nanette Lepore*, Michael Michael Kors, Kobi Halperin, Smythe, Chiara Boni La Petite Robe, David Meister, ML Monique Lhuillier, Badgley Mischka, Aidan Mattox, Theia, Teri Jon, Rag & Bone, Helmut Lang, Derek Lam 10 Crosby, ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo, See by Chloé, Tanya Taylor, Alice & Olivia, Milly, Likely, Ramy Brook, Joie, Theory, AG, Paige, J Brand, 7FAM, Frame, Hudson, Current Elliott, Bailey 44, Equipment, Parker, Scripted*, Nicole Benisti*, and Jen7*.
Women’s jewellery at Saks includes some exceptional brands such as: Adriana Orsini, Alexis Bittar, Anzie, Hearts on Fire, H. Stern, Marco Bicego, Majorica, Ippolita, Pomellato, Lana, Meira T, Sydney Evan, Kenneth Jay Lane, Lele Sadoughi, Nest, and Temple St. Clair.
Saks also has a dedicated men’s department on the first floor that is laid out radially, with a bespoke series of hand-cast glass sculptures connecting the men’s department with the 10022-SHOE salon for women. The sculptures were hand-crafted in Czech Republic. We’re not sure if this is the full list of brands, but Saks provided the following: Boglioli, Canada Goose, Corneliani, J. Lindeberg, Helmut Lang, Madison Supply*, Moose Knuckles, MPG, Rag & Bone, Saks Fifth Avenue Collection*, and Theory. Saks in Toronto carries brands such as Dior Homme, Fendi, Saint Laurent and others, and it was pointed out that pieces can be ordered and shipped to the Calgary store.
Men’s accessories seem to include a few more well-known brands including: Bally of Switzerland, Canada Goose, Ferragamo, Giuseppe Zanotti, John Hardy, MCM, Movado, Ron White*, Rimowa, Saint Laurent, Saks Fifth Avenue Collection*, Shinola, Sorel, Tumi, and Valentino. Because Ron White and Sorel are listed, we assume that some of these brands include footwear.
Women’s Beauty, Fragrance and Apothecary brands include the following: Acqua Di Parma, Giorgio Armani, Hermès, Chanel, Creed, Diptyque, EB Florals*, Penhaligons, Maison Francis Kurkdjian*, Ex Nihilo*, Kilian, Clive Christian Fragrance, Jo Malone, Byredo*, Tom Ford, Cellcosmet, La Prairie, Chantecaille*, La Mer, Valmont, Sisley, Clé De Peau, By Terry*, Estee Lauder, Laura Mercier, Tata Harper, and Mario Badescu.
The Giorgio Armani beauty boutique, which will open soon, will be a first-in-the-world concept for the brand, according to Saks.
Saks Fifth Avenue entered the Canadian market two years ago when it opened two stores in Toronto. In February of 2016, Saks opened a 170,000 square foot downtown Toronto flagship that occupies part of the Hudson’s Bay Queen Street building that is now part of the CF Toronto Eaton Centre complex. A week later, Saks opened a standalone 143,000 square foot store at Toronto’s suburban CF Sherway Gardens, located near the border of Mississauga.
CF Chinook Centre is one of Canada’s most productive malls, according to Retail Council of Canada’s latest Shopping Centre Study. CF Chinook Centre was also home to Canada’s first Nordstrom store when it opened there in September of 2014 — Nordstrom carries a range of designer brands, though fewer luxury labels than Saks’ new Calgary store. Hudson’s Bay anchors the south end of the centre.
Calgary’s Saks will also compete with Holt Renfrew in the city’s downtown core. Holt’s spans about 150,000 square feet over four levels (three of which are retail) and includes many brands not available at Saks’ new CF Chinook Centre store, including Chanel (ready-to-wear and accessories), Prada, Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and others. Sources say that Louis Vuitton will be moving into a space at CF Chinook Centre, however, on the ground floor directly across from the mall entrance to Saks. Saks and Holts will compete fiercely in Calgary and while Saks has some leading brands, Holt’s appears to have more of the range one would find in a good Neiman Marcus store.
Saks Fifth Avenue has also said that it wants to open at least one store in Vancouver, though sources say that a search for space is proving to be a challenge. One option would have been to insert Saks into downtown Vancouver’s existing 637,000 square foot Hudson’s Bay building, in a ‘shop-in-store’ configuration similar to that in downtown Toronto, and proposed for Montreal. Late last year, however, HBC struck a deal with co-working company WeWork to occupy the top two levels of downtown Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay — sources say that it’s now unlikely that Saks could be an option for inclusion, given the building's new configuration. As well, there are recent reports that HBC could sell the Vancouver store, which some are saying could fetch close to $1 billion.
Saks Fifth Avenue was also supposed to open a 200,000 square foot Montreal flagship in the fall of 2018, though that may have been put on ice, according to a French-language report that we recently covered. It remains to be seen how Saks will do in Canada as it expands, with mixed reports as to how it's doing here (the company won't officially confirm its Canadian store sales).
The Hudson’s Bay Company also operates a separate off-price division called Saks OFF 5TH, which plans to operate about 25 Canadian stores by the end of this year. So far it has opened 16 locations, which means it will need to pick up the pace of store openings in order to meet the goal. Saks OFF 5TH operates one Calgary location at CrossIron Mills, just north of the city, and a second Saks OFF 5TH will be opening in last 2018 (construction begins in September) at CF Market Mall.
See below for more photos of Saks Fifth Avenue's impressive new Calgary store at CF Chinook Centre.