By Craig Patterson
Italian luxury brand Valentino has officially opened its first standalone Canadian flagship at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The impressive storefront is the latest international brand to enter Canada through Yorkdale, as Valentino expands its presence in Canada amid considerable popularity.
Located across from an expanding Holt Renfrew store at Yorkdale, the new Valentino boutique spans more than 4,600 square feet on one level. The store is wedged between Canada’s first Bottega Veneta flagship, which opened last fall, and Aritzia-owned Wilfred.
All womenswear and menswear product categories for the Valentino brand are featured in the beautiful space, including ready-to-wear, accessories, leather goods, footwear and fragrances.
The store is divided into sections — at the front of the boutique is an area for bags and other accessories. Towards the middle is a shop-in-store area for women’s footwear, with men’s footwear displayed nearby. Men’s and women’s ready-to-wear fashions are separated into their own departments within the new store as well. Prices run well into the thousands, catering to wealthy shoppers that continue to descend on the shopping centre which a recent Retail Council of Canada study identified as being the most productive in Canada in terms of annual sales per square foot.
The Yorkdale flagship reflects Valentino’s latest store design which was first unveiled in a flagship in Milan in 2012, which features ample use of grey Palladiana Terrazzo on walls and flooring throughout the space, which has become a trademark for the brand. That contrasts with oak shelving and fixtures accented with glass, as well as plush carpeting and velvet furniture offering a comfortable place to relax. LED lighting illuminates shelves in the store, and overhead, circular lighting fixtures brighten the space.
The store was designed by Valentiono’s Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli, in collaboration with David Chipperfield Architects. Toronto-based DKstudio was architect of record, and Atmosphere Design Group PLLC executed the drawings.
CBRE represented Valentino under the direction of Senior Vice President Arlin Markowitz of the Toronto Urban Retail Team, as well as Andrew Goldberg, Vice Chairman of CBRE in New York City. Oxford Properties Group is the landlord of Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
‘The Lyst Index’ recently ranked Valentino as the ninth hottest brand in the world, and the brand has been expanding its base of stores rapidly for the past several years. Valentino operates 19 storefronts in the United States and nearly 200 worldwide, with more on the way. Some Valentino units can be quite large — a San Francisco flagship, for example, spans about 10,000 square feet, and the New York City flagship on Fifth Avenue is about twice that size.
Valentino is also available in Canada at several of Canada’s most exclusive retailers, some of which have ‘hard shops’ dedicated to the brand. Valentino has been growing its Canadian distribution steadily over the past four years. In September of 2015, Nordstrom unveiled separate shop-in-store boutiques at CF Pacific Centre in Vancouver for Valentino accessories and women’s fashions, which was followed by a dedicated Valentino men’s area, which was a first for Nordstrom. In February of 2016, Saks Fifth Avenue opened its CF Toronto Eaton Centre flagship, which also featured separate shop-in-stores for Valentino accessories and women’s ready-to-wear. In the fall of 2016, when Nordstrom opened its Yorkdale store, it also included separate Valentino shop-in-stores for accessories and women’s ready-to-wear. Most recently, Valentino unveiled a new accessories boutique at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver.
Many Holt Renfrew stores also carry a range of Valentino women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, as well as accessories and shoes. A handful of other prestigious retailers carry the Valentino brand in Canada, which has been present in retail and wholesale for decades.
For example, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Valentino had several licensed boutiques in Canada. In Toronto and Montreal, fashion retailer ‘Chez Catherine’ operated Valentino boutiques at her stores at Toronto’s Hazleton Lanes and at Montreal’s Ogilvy. In Vancouver, Farideh French Imports operated two small Valentino boutiques in the downtown core — one was at 723 Burrard Street in a space now occupied by Tiffany & Co., and another was located on the third level of the Pan Pacific Hotel (which also featured a small luxury shopping area that also housed a boutique for Celine).
Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre is adding more first-to-Canada retailers than any single location in the country. More brands are on the way as landlord Oxford Properties attracts retailers to its highly productive centre, which is on track to be the top-selling mall in North America with nearly $2-billion in annual sales and productivity approaching to $2,000 per square foot annually. Recent first-to-Canada openings included Bottega Veneta and Chloé, both considered to be flagships. Yorkdale is also dedicating more space to luxury brands on its premises, with corridors being dedicated to high-end brands extending beyond the mall’s initial ‘luxury wing’ extending northward from the main entrance of Holt Renfrew.
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. Email Craig: firstname.lastname@example.org