By Craig Patterson
Paris-based luxury brand Chanel has opened its first standalone fragrance and beauty boutique on the concourse level of Toronto’s Holt Renfrew Centre at 50 Bloor Street West. The 1,280 square foot storefront features a range of exclusives unavailable elsewhere in Canada as Chanel expands its retail presence in Canada.
The boutique carries a vast array of exclusive makeup, fragrance and skincare offerings from Chanel, as well as a speciality selection of eyewear from the brand. Included is a private treatment room with its design inspired by the Chanel au Ritz Spa in Paris.
Included, as well, are a range of products that are unique to the Toronto location that until recently were only available online, or outside of the country. A ‘fragrance library’ includes some of Chanel’s top-selling offerings as well as rare fragrances. The iconic Chanel No. 5 sits alongside more contemporary brands and some fragrances not available elsewhere in Canada — the goal is to get brand fans to also visit the new boutique as well as other Canadian Chanel boutiques, and other retailers carrying the brand. Included is an expansive offering of ‘Les Exclusifs de Chanel’ fragrances displayed on a dedicated wall area.
Chanel beauty experts in the boutique provide product knowledge and demonstrations, including makeup applications in one of the shop’s three beauty stations. Mirrors in the beauty stations feature adjustable lighting — if a customer plans on being at an evening event, for example, they can adjust the light setting to see what they might look like with different colour shades.
The digital-friendly space encourages shoppers to play with iPad applications, including being able to try on lipstick shades virtually. Rather than having to physically apply a shade of lipstick to try on, a simple click of a button allows visitors to see what a shade would look like on their own face. A vast assortment of lipstick shades are on offer, including the new ‘Rouge Coco Flash’, a new ultra-shiny formula from the brand that is proving to be popular globally.
Other colour offerings include advanced foundations in various shades to match diverse skin tones. Chanel’s popular nail polish features a wide range of colours in a bar area near the front of the new boutique. The ‘Le Vernis by Chanel’ nail polish is said to be long-lasting and protective with a “lasting shine designed to make vibrant colours dazzle”, offering an even and lacquered result.
Chanel as a heritage brand has embraced technological innovation with some of its beauty products. Its Hydra Beauty Micro Serum, for example, offers ‘intense replenishing hydration’ — it’s the first serum composed of camellia micro-droplets using patented technology derived from Microfluidics, which makes it possible to create droplets of active ingredients who’s purity remains intact until the moment of application. Chanel says that the micro-droplets release camellia extract for continuous hydration to crease a “new sensory experience”. It’s part of Chanel’s extensive anti-aging product offering that has a cult-like following amongst the brand’s fans. A range of cleansers, serums and creams are also on offer, many patented with anti-aging and enhancing technological advancements.
The Le Blanc Oil-in-Cream Compact foundation, featuring SPF 40 sun protection, “perfect evenness, lasting translucency and maintain hydration,” according to Chanel. The Le Blanc line was specifically designed for Asian skin using a unique and gentle ‘smart thermal complex’ that Chanel says helps protect skin against environmental harshness such as climate variations.
Beauty accessories such as brushes are carried in the boutique, including the ‘Le Blanc’ multi-use foundation sponge brush that “allows for higher coverage and more precise application to boost skin’s radiance,” according to Chanel.
A range of sunglasses are only available in the boutique in Canada, included are styles worn in Chanel ad campaigns. The eyewear selection is showcased on two display walls near the boutique’s payment and service counter.
Digital signage throughout the boutique changes depending on the time of year. This week, the theme is ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ with displays featuring a cartoon-like drawing of a bottle of the iconic Chanel No. 5 fragrance that is renowned worldwide.
Chanel’s Holt Renfrew Centre boutique features an entrance directly into the Holt Renfrew Centre’s concourse retail level, which is also in the process of a substantial upgrade. Flooring and ceilings are being updated to create a more elevated experience at the Holt Renfrew Centre, which recently saw the unveiling of Holt Renfrew’s new 12,000 square foot beauty hall that opened to the public last month. The Chanel fragrance and beauty boutique also includes an entrance doorway directly into Holt Renfrew’s new beauty floor, which houses many of the world’s top brands in their own dedicated vendor shops.
The overall Chanel fragrance and beauty boutique design is bright and attractive and since opening last week, has been consistently busy. The store’s interior features gold wall treatments similar to Chanel’s updated ready-to-wear boutiques.
Chanel is expanding its beauty presence across Canada. Opening soon will be North America’s first standalone duty-paid Chanel fragrance and beauty boutique at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, which is located at Terminal 1 in domestic departures. The boutique is a partnership with Dufry duty free and Chanel’s South American team.
Chanel’s presence is also expanding in other retailers such as Holt Renfrew, for example, continues to update its network of stores across Canada. Montreal’s Holt Renfrew Ogilvy recently unveiled a massive 28,000 square foot beauty hall on its concourse level that features a substantial Chanel presence. A range of retailers feature Chanel beauty shops, with some Shoppers Drug Mart locations even carrying the brand. At the same time, Chanel is selective about its distribution and the brand has been carefully scaling back some of its ready-to-wear boutiques globally in order to maintain exclusivity.
Chanel currently operates six women’s ready-to-wear boutiques in Canada. The only standalone storefront is the impressive 100 Yorkville Avenue flagship in Toronto that opened in late 2017 — the boutique is said to be expanding into an adjacent space in order to expand its personal shopping suites. The other five Chanel boutiques are at Holt Renfrew stores in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto (50 Bloor Street West and Yorkdale Shopping Centre) and in Montreal. In September, Chanel’s Montreal unit will relocate onto the street level of the updated 250,000 square foot Holt Renfrew Ogilvy flagship, featuring an expansive offering of Chanel fashions and accessories. Last year Chanel expanded its Holt Renfrew Yorkdale storefront, which has its own entrance into the mall as well as from within Holts, given the boutiques high sales numbers from the mall’s ever-expanding roster of affluent visitors.
It’s not yet known if Chanel will open any other standalone fragrance and beauty boutiques in Canada. Chanel operates a network of fragrance and beauty boutiques in key markets globally, sometimes in markets where Chanel either already has a ready-to-wear boutique, and in some instances in markets that might not otherwise support a full Chanel store. Privately-held Chanel was founded in 1909 by Coco Chanel and has more than 300 boutiques globally. Karl Lagerfeld was Chanel’s designer until his death in February of this year.
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