By Craig Patterson
Unique footwear brand Tanya Heath Paris has relocated its Canadian flagship in Toronto, as it prepares to expand its operations in this country. The brand is the first in the world to provide interchangeable heels and its following is expanding quickly, necessitating a broader distribution network.
Tanya Heath’s first Toronto store opened in October of 2014 on Old York Lane in the city’s upscale Yorkville area. The retailer recently relocated to a new 1,000 square foot retail space at 126 Cumberland Street. The new store provides more sunlight as well as exposure on busy Cumberland Street, which also faces the Village of Yorkville Park which is often animated with events, according to co-owner Leslie-Ann Dominy.
Known for its high-quality shoes with interchangeable heels, Tanya Heath Paris was founded in 2009 by Canadian Tanya Heath, who now lives in France. Ms. Heath was born and raised in Ottawa and moved with her husband to France in 1996 where she studied business, specializing in strategy and new technologies. She struggled to find shoes that were versatile enough for her busy lifestyle — something fashionable enough for work, yet comfortable enough to take her children to school. In 2009, with the help of 14 engineers and technicians plus several designers and master boot makers, Ms. Heath created a unique company that boasts the world’s first adjustable height shoe with removable heels.
The brand offers a range of shoe styles that can be paired with a wide selection of interchangeable heels, which can be attached and removed by the click of a button on the shoe itself. The benefits are twofold — the shoe’s appearance can be modified with new heels while also modifying the shoe’s height, depending on what the wearer desires.
Shoe styles are meant to be timeless, with heels that are designed in a range of colours and textures. Heels can be slid into place and removed with the click of a button inside the shoe.
There are seven types of heels that come in dozens of colours and textures, including:
- Christophe: a 4.5 cm (1.7 inch) trotter that is perfect for walking,
- Stéphane: a 6 cm (2.3 inch) kitten heel,
- Daniel: a 6.5 cm (2.5 inch) heel that is super sturdy, visually graphic and is comfort personified,
- Damien: a 6.5 cm (2.5 inch) stiletto heel for a feminine look in a comfortable height,
- Patrice: a 6.5 cm (2.5 inch) heel that is gracious, elegant and sturdy and very good for all-day wear.
- Denis: a strong and stable 8 cm (3.1 inches) heel that will 'let you soar',
- François is a 8.5 cm (3.3 inches) stiletto.
In the Toronto boutique, Ms. Dominy also stocks a range of handmade leather bags from Toronto-based designer ‘uppdoo’, which has a standalone retail store on Bloor Street West just east of Ossington Avenue. There are also cashmere fashion items from Pam Willcox of Snapdragon Designs. The store’s walls feature chic designs from artist John Coburn. A unique design feature in the store is a ‘lego wall’ by Everblock at the back that speaks to the functionality of the product contained within.
Manufacturing for Tanya Heath Paris’s shoes is being moved to Portugal and as a result, prices on the shoes will be coming down substantially, according to Ms. Dominy. All heels are made in France in a factory owned and operated by Tanya Heath Paris. Now that the product is accessible to a wider range of clients, Tanya Heath is looking at expanding its operations in Canada that could include standalone boutiques as well as shop-in-stores and other similar configurations. Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary are all strong markets that could see stores — the Tanya Heath Paris Canada website serves customers nationwide. Besides standalone stores, the company is also considering partnering with retailers to house a selection of shoes and heels in its stores, which could range from a display case to a full shop-in-store.
Tanya Heath Paris also operates stores in Paris as well as Porto, Portugal, Beirut, Lebanon, and is also available at upscale multi-brand retailers in Europe with new boutiques in Hong Kong and Tokyo that will be opening soon.