By Craig Patterson
Innovative eco-friendly US-based women’s fashion brand Reformation has secured a retail space for its first store in Canada, which will open this summer at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. It’s the latest international brand to announce its entry into the Canadian market, with 2019 already shaping up to be a busy year for new store announcements.
The Reformation store will be located in Yorkdale’s Nordstrom-anchored expansion wing that opened in 2016, measuring about 1,650 square feet. It’s also the latest international brand to open a store at Yorkdale, which launches more first-to-Canada retailers than any single location in the country.
Cutting-edge Reformation will no doubt impress with its sustainability focus. Known for being a “cool girl” clothing company (as stated in Allure), Reformation has become popular amongst celebrities such as Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and model Karlie Kloss. The company says that its goal is to create designs that are ‘sexy, edgy and feminine’, utilizing sustainable methods and materials.
Much of Reformation's fashions are vintage-inspired with products such as maxi dresses with high slits and button-down dresses with kitschy slogans. Prices are mid-range with dresses on its US website generally priced between $128 and $218. New designs are released regularly, sometimes as often as every week. About 60% of the brand’s clothing is manufactured in its Los Angeles factory, and the company continues to seek ways to increase production while staying true to the brand’s ethos.
Most of Reformation’s woven fabric is made of viscose, which is a man-made fibre made from renewable plant material. About half of the viscose fibre is manufactured by Austrian company Lenzing, and the other half comes from an Indian manufacturer — they're the only two such suppliers that Reformation has deemed worthy, given their high score in a CanopyStyle audit (which certifies that trees are sourced sustainably and that ancient/endangered forests weren’t harmed, amongst other considerations). Several other fibres are used in Reformation’s fashions, including TENCEL™ Lyocell and viscose (a wood based fibre), linen, and Recover® yarns that are made from old clothes and fabric waste. In-store displays provide information on products using a ‘RefScale’, which is a measure of the garment’s manufacturing process which includes water usage, carbon emissions, and waste generated in manufacturing.
In addition to its successful clothing range, Reformation just announced that it has launched a shoe collection, which is a completely new category for the brand. The collection includes sandals, espadrilles, flats, and heels designed with a nod to the 1990s. Keeping in line with Reformation’s other products, the shoes are sustainably made with materials like chrome-free leather and jute. These practices save an average of 52% CO2 emissions, 70% water and 65% waste when compared to most shoes purchased in the United States. The shoes are available in fun pops up colours as well as metallics, with feminine and vintage silhouettes.
Nearly 15% of Reformation’s products are made out of “deadstock” fabrics — the company buys old, leftover, and over-ordered fabric from other designers and fabric warehouses. As well, between 2% and 5% of Reformation’s products are made from vintage clothing, which is purchased from wholesalers in the United States and repurposed.
According to its website, Reformation has 14 stores in the United States. Five are in the Los Angeles area, four in the New York City area (including one in the Hamptons), two are in San Francisco, and there are individual stores in Boston, Dallas and Washington DC. Reformation stores are typically located on urban street-fronts from the addresses listed on its website, which will make the Yorkdale location unique, given that it is an enclosed suburban-style shopping centre (albeit one of the best in the world).
Jeff Berkowitz of brokerage Aurora Realty Consultants negotiated Reformation’s deal to open at Yorkdale, and is spearheading the brand’s Canadian expansion moving forward. According to Aurora Realty Consultants' website, Reformation stores in Canada will ideally be in the 2,000 to 3,000 square foot range on high streets, though that target may have changed given the size and location of the new Yorkdale storefront which will lack some of the tech components found in larger US locations.
Reformation is likely to be a hit amongst Canadian shoppers, given its experiential stores and eco-focused product and messaging.
Reformation is the latest international brand to enter Canada by opening stores. Last year we tallied about 30 international retailers that entered the Canadian market, which was down from a record-breaking 50+ international brands that came to Canada in 2017. This year is shaping up to be another busy year with several announcements having already been made, and more to come with a particular focus on Toronto and Vancouver. Yorkdale recently saw the opening of Canada’s first standalone Valentino and Bottega Veneta storefronts, adding to the many others that have opened their first stores in Canada in the busy and highly productive shopping centre.
We’ll continue to track international brands that are entering the Canadian market by opening stores, and we’re aware of several more that are either under negotiation or have already secured their first retail spaces, and we’ll report when permitted.
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