BRIEF: Holt Renfrew Commences Mothership Renovation, Sugarfina Opens 2nd Canadian Store

Holt Renfrew Commences its Mothership Renovation: The 190,000-square foot Holt Renfrew store at 50 Bloor Street West in Toronto is about to go under the knife, as Holt Renfrew continues to upgrade its fleet of stores in Canada. The Bloor Street store is the company’s global flagship with its corporate offices attached in the neighbouring 60 Bloor Street West office tower, which is also seeing some minor renovations that has resulted in disruption at the northeast corner of Bloor Street West and Bay Street. 

Big things are planned for Holt’s — reconfigured departments, a new facade, and the likelihood that men's wear will move back into the main 50 Bloor building when the nearby 100 Bloor Holt Renfrew Men store eventually closes. Already, luxury brand Saint Laurent has opened a street-level boutique with its own entrance onto Bloor Street, and Loro Piana unveiled its shop-in-store concession several months ago. Louis Vuitton is building a new and bigger space, Dior has temporarily relocated its accessories concession and Fendi is expected to do something bigger as part of the renovation. 

Women’s shoes has moved onto the concourse level temporarily in a bright space, while the mezzanine level is renovated. Holt Renfrew Gourmet on the concourse closed several months ago and cosmetics are expected to eventually move downstairs. The Café at Holts restaurant will be rebranded as Colette Grand Café after a renovation in a few months. Some jewellery and watch brands have moved to the second floor and Burberry has opened temporary accessory and women’s ready-to-wear boutiques. 

Holt Renfrew is upgrading its stores nationally — Vancouver’s multimillion dollar renovation is nearly complete, and the store is said to do several hundred million dollars in sales annually. The Yorkdale store in Toronto is also about to see an expansion that will see some new shops (watch for an expanded Gucci boutique and new Dior Homme concession) and of course Montreal will be in for a treat when the merged ‘Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’ is eventually completed, creating a 220,000-square foot luxury behemoth that will be connected to a luxurious Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences.

 Photo: Richard Hui

Photo: Richard Hui

Sugarfina Serves Up Sugary Love Just in Time for Father’s Day: Los Angeles-based luxury ‘grownup’ candy retailer Sugarfina, has opened its second Lower Mainland boutique at Vancouver's Oakridge Centre. The 450-square-foot boutique is bursting with its chic sweetness and is located next to Swarovski, Aritzia and Gap stores. While dangerously close to the mall’s food court, it may be wise to enjoy lunch first, then head over to Sugarfina, so at least some of the delicious candies make it home!

Tony Flanz at brokerage Think Retail represented Sugarfina in the lease with landlord QuadReal

Sugarfina stores feature premium items made from high-quality ingredients, sourced directly from artisan candy makers around the globe. Customized packaging to hit niche markets is great for gift givers. For Father’s Day, the Bourbon Club collection is perfect for Dad. The Vice Collection Bento Boxes contain Single Malt Scotch Cordials, Maple Bourbon Caramels, Champagne Bears. Also offered is the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Collection, Chocolate Bacon Pretzels, and more.

The Sugarfina concept has grown rapidly, now boasting over 30 boutiques in the United States with three of those being located in Nordstrom stores. Their first Canadian store was at Metropolis at Metrotown in Vancouver last November of 2017. Watch for locations in Toronto as the brand continues to expand. 

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Could this be the Most fabulous Mall Management Office in Canada? Toronto’s Bayview Village recently finished a renovation to its management office, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Bayview Village’s resident ‘decoristas’ worked with a leading design firm to overhaul the 2,059-square foot space on the mall’s lower-level. 

The space, which was formerly an art gallery, was completely gutted and the new layout was conceptualized by design firm DIALOG. Personal touches by decoristas Carrie DeVries (QuadReal’s VP of Retail Leasing) and Melissa Evans-Lee (National Director, Marketing & Customer Experience at QuadReal) saw the fashionable space to completion. Melissa is known to be a fashion guru (and a big fan of Gwyneth Paltrow) who has been responsible for Bayview Village’s unique ‘haute’ marketing. 

“When it came to wallpaper, paint, flooring, furniture and all decorative touches, we definitely pursued pretty in alignment with BV’s ‘haute’ brand personality”, says Melissa Evans-Lee. And the end result, says Carrie DeVries, is “not just befitting of our chic team but welcoming to the high end brands not only currently under our roof but those we hope to attract”.

Outland Denim Evolves from a 'Denim-Project' to Holt Renfrew’s H-Project: As part of their Good Jeans initiative, Holt Renfrew is offering a range of sustainable denim brands that are offering an alternative to the status quo. One of these game-changing brands is Australia’s Outland Denim.

In addition to help clean up the environmentally dirty denim business, founder James Bartle created Outland after an encounter with an anti-trafficking group at a music festival in Australia. He then traveled to Asia and saw firsthand how human traffickers prey on vulnerable young girls in order to service the sex industry. James and his wife created the "Denim Project," which offers training and employment to Cambodian women rescued from human trafficking and exploitation, and sources ethical and sustainable materials for everything from cotton, to dyes, to zippers. Their denim is A+ rated sustainable and organic.

The brand launched with H-Project at Holts back in March and is now available in the premium denim sections of Holt Renfrew and online at Harry Rosen in Canada. In July Outland will roll out the 2018 must-have denim jackets as well as new styles and washes.

Heads up! In September, plans are in the works for Bartle to attend at Harry Rosen for an in-store event.

Lemongrass Spa Lovers Rejoice as Company Launches Online Shop: Hot on the heels of the March launch of their first retail location, Lemongrass House Canada’s highly popular, all-natural, handcrafted, quality spa products are now available online. The team moved up the launch of their online shop to accommodate a strong demand from outside of the greater Vancouver area.

The spa and personal care products – such as essential oils (with diffusers), body and massage oils, face creams, room sprays, soaps, teas and more, offer exotic and floral fragrances. They are all-natural (no chemicals used) and handmade. Each product is created by Thai artisans who sign each product before it is packaged by hand.

With more than 50 retail stores in 17 countries around the world, Lemongrass House products are being used in some of the world’s top hotels and spas such as Four Seasons ResortsHilton HotelsBanyan Tree and Le Meridien.

Co-owners Maxine Druker and Ben Horne chose Vancouver’s historic Gastown neighbourhood for the location of their flagship and have plans to open in Edmonton and Toronto.

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ONEMETH Goes from Good to Greatest Hits with MTV Collaboration: ONEMETH GOODS, the Toronto-based brand favoured by The Weeknd and Justin Beiber, recently collaborated with MTV Canada to produce an exclusive capsule collection that celebrates the intersection of music and fashion. This collaborative collection is a departure from ONEMETH’s traditional basic items and utilizes a bold foray into new silhouettes and colours.

Launched in 2014, ONEMETH was founded by Amin Todai and his team at OneMethod, a digital and design studio based in Toronto. Key to their philosophy is a dedication to using locally sourced and locally manufactured fabrics.

The pop-up shop will be at 277 Queen Street from June 1st to 17th and will sell the exclusive capsule collection, and will showcase an immersive visual timeline of music and fashion from 1981 onwards. Hours are Monday through Friday from 11am – 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 6pm. No word yet on whether there will be any guest appearances by celebrities but you never know!

The Body Shop Says ‘Let Us Take You to the Yogurt Shop’: Torontonians and visitors alike are invited to stop by 950 Queen Street West to visit The Yogurt Shop pop-up by The Body Shop. This two-day event – June 2nd and June 3rd only – celebrates the launch of their new game-changing Body Yogurts collection.

While onsite, guests are invited to enjoy a free dairy-free frozen treat; explore a series of unique, whimsical installations that scream ‘Instagram me’; and join The Body Shop’s Forever Against Animal Testing campaign by adding their signature to the brand’s global petition.

The Body Yogurts are 100% vegan and are made with Community Trade organic almond milk, real natural extracts, and come in delicious Strawberry, British Rose, Mango, Morgina, and Almond Milk.

If you are planning to hit up The Yogurt Shop next weekend, on Saturday they are having frozen treat fun from 12-6pm and Sunday 12-5pm.

Vancouver Duo Launch Casca to Battle Footwear Frustration: Driven by an urge to challenge footwear industry norms, reduce consumption and improve the user experience, Casca Designs launched February 2017 by industrial designer Kevin Reid and entrepreneur Braden Parker. 

These two Vancouverites wanted to change the way people moved about their day. Reid and Parker set-out to create all-day unisex performance footwear with functionality and quality materials, which were sellable at an affordable price point. To achieve the second, they eliminated the retail component and sell direct via their online store.

The direct-to-consumer approach saves consumers at least $100 on each pair, which is offered in leather and knit, in black and grey.

Casca offers a 30-day guarantee on their versatile, holistic, healthier, and high-functioning footwear. If you do not feel the Casca difference and are not swept off your feet – they will take them back – no questions asked!

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Helen Siwak is the publisher of EcoLuxLuv.com Magazine, a freelance content creator specializing in retail and luxury lifestyle. She is a regular content contributor to Boulevard Vancouver (English & Chinese), Retail-InsiderBLUSH Vancouver, and has lifestyle blogged for StyleDemocracy and Daily Hive. When not writing, she is attending fashion events, traveling, and advocating for animal/human rights. helensiwak@yahoo.com.

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