Upscale Sportswear Brand ‘Stone Island’ Opens 1st Canadian Flagship [Photos]

Upscale Italian men’s apparel brand Stone Island has opened its Canadian flagship on Toronto’s Yorkville Avenue. It’s the latest high-end retailer to open a storefront on the rapidly changing street which boasts an affluent shopper demographic. 

The new store carries Stone Island’s full range of fashions and accessories for men, as well as Stone Island’s ‘Shadow Project’ collection. The brand is known for its quality and innovation, having developed more than 60,000 different recipes of dyes throughout the years. Technical sportswear design (through considerable research and development) and fabrics has helped the brand gain a ‘cult’ following for its products featuring the compass-like Stone Island badge on the left arm of garments. 

STONE ISLAND LOCATION ON YORKVILLE AVENUE IN TORONTO. CLICK FOR INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP.

Located at 104 Yorkville Avenue, the dramatic 2,500 square foot Stone Island store features large corner windows that offer a view from the street. The interior design was created by industrial designer Marc Buhre from Heidelberg (Germany), who also founded architectural firm Zeichenweg TM. The “highly functional design” includes bush-hammered stone flooring which is also used on walls, which is interspersed with through-coloured MDF and metallic mesh on a steel substructure. Furnishings in the retail space are made of black-stained natural oak. Hangers are composed of carbon bars and anodized aluminium, while shelves are in shades of anthracite.

Hilary Kellar-Parsons, who recently joined Aurora Realty Consultants, represented Stone Island in the lease deal with landlord First Capital Realty

The two-level Stone Island flagship is located in the 102-108 Yorkville Avenue complex that was developed by First Capital Realty to attract luxury retailers to the area. Other tenants in the complex include North America’s largest Brunello Cucinelli flagship, a new-concept Versace store, and upstairs is a spa concept recently profiled in Retail Insider called Majesty’s Pleasure. A high-end Japanese restaurant called ‘Hana’ will open next month on the lower level of the complex.

It’s the third standalone storefront for Stone Island in North America. The company also operates corporately-owned stores in New York City and Los Angeles. Globally, Stone Island operates 26 freestanding stores as well as 18 concessions. Of the 26 standalone stores, nine are in Italy including two units in Milan as well as in Rome, Florence, Venice, Turin, Verona, Forte dei Marmi, and in Riccione. Other European stores are found in Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Sylt, Paris, Cannes, London, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Stockholm. In Asia, Stone Island stores are located in Tokyo, Seoul, Daegu, and Hong Kong. 

PHOTO: STONE ISLAND
PHOTO: STONE ISLAND

Stone Island was founded in 1982 by designer Massimo Osti. It was created as a parent brand for his first label, C.P. Company, which was founded in 1974. In 1992, Carlo Rivetti and family, already stakeholders since 1983, bought 100% of the brands, and founded Sportswear Company SpA. In August of 2017, Sportswear Company SpA sold a 30% stake in its business to Singaporean Sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings. Carlo Rivetti is currently Sportswear Company’s President and Stone Island’s Creative Director.

Prices for the brand skew towards the high-end, with some outerwear styles selling for more $1,000 each and sweaters selling for more than $500. In Canada, Stone Island clothing can be found in upscale edgier multi-brand retailers such as SSENSE, Haven, CNTRBND and TNT, among others. Stone Island also experimented with temporary shop-in-shops at Holt Renfrew, which are said to have performed well.

Celebrities such as Drake are known to wear the brand — given that Drake is building a mansion in Toronto’s Bridle Path area, it is expected that he may become a customer in the new Toronto store. 

DRAKE WEARING STONE ISLAND. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Stone Island’s popularity is due in part to its brand collaborations, as well as a roster of celebrity fans who wear the brand. Stone Island has collaborated with popular brands such as Supreme and Nike with considerable success. Such collaborations are increasingly common in the industry, with product ‘drops’ often selling out quite quickly, while creating hype and greater brand recognition.

Stone Island initially became fashionable among the Italian youth subculture called Paninari — an affluent scene that would congregate in panino/sandwich shops. Not long after, the brand became a favourite among British soccer fans and then music fans who were drawn to Stone Island’s specialized dyes and pioneering fabrics. 

The Yorkville Stone Island flagship is situated alongside some of the world’s biggest brand names. Chanel’s Canadian flagship, located at 98 Yorkville Avenue, is expanding to more than 9,500 square feet after having opened in November of 2017. Versace and Brunello Cucinelli are situated directly to the west of Stone Island. Across the street, luxury brands operating stores include Christian Louboutin, Off-White and Sheng Tang Peony. First Capital Realty, which owns the building that Chanel currently occupies, plans to add other luxury brands to the area that will involve re-tenanting retail spaces recently vacated by Diesel and Anthropologie. At 101 Yorkville Avenue, as well, First Capital Realty will build a new luxury focused mixed-use project that will include three flagship retail spaces as Yorkville Avenue finds its place as one of the most prestigious retail addresses in North America. 

CHANEL YORKVILLE. PHOTO: CRAIG PATTERSON

While the company hasn’t discussed other Canadian locations, the Vancouver market could be in line for a Stone Island flagship at some point. The city’s affluent Asian population, including locals and visitors, is said to be primarily responsible for the openings of many luxury stores in the downtown Vancouver ‘Luxury Zone’ which is flanked by the Trump Tower on West Georgia Street and the Hotel Vancouver. Alberni Street has become an address of choice, particularly on its 1000 block. The 1100 block of Alberni Street, which currently houses an Urban Fare grocery store as well as several boutiques and restaurants, is said to be the next target for luxury brands in Vancouver’s downtown core as demand for space in the area requires further expansion in the area. 

Stone Island’s direct-to-consumer storefront will become competition for multi-brand retailers carrying the line in downtown Toronto. Upscale edgy retailer CNTRBND carries a selection of Stone Island products, as does the Holt Renfrew men’s store at 100 Bloor St. W. which is said to be remaining there indefinitely despite a previous announcement that it would move back into the 50 Bloor St. W. Holt Renfrew flagship. The TNT store at Yorkville Village carries Stone Island, as does Capsule on Yorkville Avenue. Other downtown Toronto retailers carrying the Stone Island brand include Due West, Kenshi, and Nomad. It remains to be seen if sales of Stone Island in these stores decreases with the opening of the mono-brand Yorkville Avenue flagship.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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