By Craig Patterson
Upscale Italian men’s apparel brand Stone Island will open its Canadian flagship this fall in a new development on Toronto’s Yorkville Avenue. It’s the latest high-end name to open a storefront in the rapidly transforming area, which is seeing several new high-end apparel brands catering to an affluent demographic.
The Yorkville Avenue store will carry Stone Island’s full range of fashions and accessories for men, marking the first time that the brand has had its own dedicated retail presence in Canada. It will also be Stone Island’s third store location in North America, following locations that opened in New York City and in Los Angeles.
A favourite of celebrities such as Drake, Stone Island’s Toronto flagship will span two levels with about 2,500 square feet of space at 102-108 Yorkville Avenue. Stone Island’s location is strategic — Chanel’s 8,550 square foot flagship is next door immediately to the east at 98 Yorkville Avenue, and Versace and Brunello Cucinelli will open flagships in a few months immediately to the west in this development. Upstairs, Her Majesty’s Pleasure will open a unique space on the third floor, and an ultra-high-end Japanese restaurant will open on the lower level of the complex. Across the street, Christian Louboutin opened in the summer of 2016 at 99 Yorkville Avenue.
Located across the street from Stone Island, as well, is a storefront for Off-White, a pricey Italy-based streetwear brand created by Chicago designer Virgil Abloh (now also the menswear designer for Louis Vuitton). Off-White’s Toronto store is operated by local multi-brand retailer CNTRBND, which also operates a storefront at 135 Yorkville Avenue housing a range of unique and hard-to-find product offerings. CNTRBND will open two new storefronts in the neighbourhood this spring as Yorkville continues to evolve into a luxury fashion hotspot that includes a range of traditional brands as well as aspirational offerings and otherwise upscale streetwear brands that are increasingly being favoured worldwide.
Stone Island was represented by Hilary Kellar-Parsons of brokerage Avison Young in the lease deal for 102 Yorkville Avenue. First Capital Realty is developing the 102-108 Yorkville Avenue complex and Eric Sherman negotiated on the landlord’s behalf. Stone Island’s space was originally intended for luxury UK footwear brand Jimmy Choo, but the deal was terminated a couple months ago mutually as the brand re-evaluates its global retail operations.
Eric Sherman, Director of Real Estate for First Capital Realty’s Yorkville properties, said, “The luxury landscape is changing, as brands and consumers alike are blurring the lines between conventional luxury and high-end sportswear and streetwear with a special focus on service and experience. We are keeping this trend in mind as we purposefully curate our portfolio on Yorkville Avenue, which has quickly become the most sought after address for luxury flagships in the country.” He went on the say, “Over the past few years, Stone Island has shown spectacular growth and is consistently listed as one of the world’s top 10 hottest brands alongside the top ultra-luxury brands globally. First Capital Realty is extremely excited to be working with Stone Island on their Canadian flagship and only stand-alone store in the country.
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 are at the high-end, with some outerwear styles retailing for in excess of $1,000 each, and some sweater styles can sell 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.
The brand’s popularity has exploded recently and in the fourth quarter of 2018, Lyst ranked Stone Island as the world’s seventh hottest brand globally. The only brands ranking higher included Gucci, Off-White, Balenciaga, Moncler, Fendi and Versace, in that order.
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 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.
Stone Island 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.
The brand also has a considerable social media following, including more than a million in Instagram alone. Likes, comments and ‘shares’ are common amongst the highly engaged fans of Stone Island.
According to its website, Stone Island operates 23 standalone stores globally. Of those, eight are in Italy, three are in Germany, two are in France, two are in the Netherlands, two are on South Korea, and there is one location each in London, Stockholm, Tokyo and Hong Kong. In the United States, Stone Island operates a store in New York City’s Soho area on Greene Street, as well as a unit on North La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles with an exterior that could pass for a high-end car dealership.
Stone Island’s entry into Toronto’s Yorkville area signals a shift for the neighbourhood as a diverse range of brands open stores. As mentioned above, Yorkville is blossoming with the addition of brands such as Off-White and now Stone Island, while traditional luxury brands continue to show interest. As a result, Yorkville Avenue is seeing a unique lineup of upscale retailers which expands the offering of global brands that are available to Toronto consumers. That diversity is expected to result in an expanded demographic of monied shoppers that might otherwise seek out brands elsewhere, including at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
The diversity of retail in the Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood also reflects demographics in the rapidly changing area. While known for its luxury residences, Bloor-Yorkville is now seeing thousands of residential units being added to the neighbourhood, with many units smaller-sized to cater to a younger demographic that is not necessarily always ‘wealthy’. The new diversity of retailers is expected to serve the area with a population spanning a broad age and income spectrum.
We’ll continue to follow Yorkville’s progression as the neighbourhood’s retail continues to diversify with new entrants. We’ll also report back with photos and an update when the store opens later this year.