By Craig Patterson
Italian luxury brand Gucci has unveiled a stunning concession boutique at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The 6,000 square foot shop, built by retail construction specialist Amachris Corporation, carries Gucci’s line of fashions for men and women as well as footwear, bags, jewellery and accessories. The Yorkdale store is part of Gucci’s investment in the Canadian market as the luxury brand expands its concession network and renovates and expands its shops to reflect the brand’s updated aesthetic.
The new Yorkdale Gucci boutique is technically a leased concession as part of Holt Renfrew’s Yorkdale store, though it has the look and feel of an up-to-date Gucci flagship. Calling it a flagship might be accurate — it’s now the second-largest single Gucci space in all of Canada, being only slightly smaller than Gucci’s under-renovation 6,500 square foot Toronto flagship at 130 Bloor Street West. Gucci’s only other standalone Canadian store is at 900 W. Georgia Street in the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and that store spans about 4,000 square feet on one level.
Yorkdale’s Gucci is divided into several spectacular rooms carrying different product categories. Each room is unique and features distinct design elements. The back-end of the store, which features an entrance directly into Holt Renfrew’s men’s department, also carries a range of Gucci menswear in a plush environment characterized by deep blue velvet walls and multi-coloured marble floors. Impressive dressing rooms are accessed from velvet curtains — blue and red velvet is used heavily throughout the Gucci space, on both ceilings and walls.
A men’s footwear salon features display shelves that are rounded on each corner, with walls covered in plush blue velvet. Comfortable leather chairs and several other fixtures in the Gucci store were brought in directly from Italy. Oriental carpets are featured in many of the rooms, and wood chevron flooring can be found in the women’s fashion and accessory areas.
A central cash desk area features a red velvet ceiling and walls, and connects the men’s space to a large area dedicated to accessories including an expansive assortment of belts, jewellery and handbags. A mix of women’s fashions and accessories are found in two other rooms as well as in a large front area of the store— the Gucci boutique can be accessed both from within Holt Renfrew as well as from a separate entrance facing the mall. The new Gucci store is now located across from the Bottega Veneta and Valentino flagships that opened a few months ago.
Amachris Corporation brought Gucci’s vision to life by constructing the luxurious space, which required precision and perfection to ensure that it all came together. Gucci, along with Fendi and a soon-to-open ‘world of Dior’ concession, is located in a space formerly occupied by Anthropologie. During the course of construction, the concrete floor in the Gucci space had to be carefully levelled by Amachris’ subcontractors in order to bring it in line with the rest of the Holt Renfrew store, and in preparation for laying out marble floor tiles. Laying marble tiles in the Gucci space required tedious and high-quality craftsmanship by Amachris to ensure that each tile fit perfectly. The beautiful old-world geometric marble pattern (found in the men’s footwear salon) had to align accurately with several display and millwork fixtures that were installed.
The millwork detail in the new Gucci space, is extensive and found on most walls. Backlit shelving in one of the women’s rooms features an impressive display of Gucci bags.
A jewellery area, carrying a range of fashion jewellery from the Gucci line, features trunk-like fixtures and a backdrop of white marble. A selection of Gucci jewellery is also carried in the adjacent Holt Renfrew store.
The challenging project has resulted in what is one of the most attractive and dramatic retail spaces in Canada. High ceilings, attractive lighting and extremely high-quality craftsmanship has created a retail space unlike any other in this country. The design is based on Gucci’s latest look by Creative Director Alessandro Michele, featuring a mix of old-world opulence and modern bling.
Gucci operates leased concessions at Holt Renfrew’s other stores in Canada as well, though not nearly as large as the new Yorkdale storefront. Holt Renfrew partnered with Gucci to operate concessions in most of its stores. In Vancouver, Gucci operates updated concessions for accessories as well as women’s and men’s ready-to-wear at Holt Renfrew in CF Pacific Centre, with the large ground-floor accessory shop having opened several months ago. Holts’ Calgary store features an older-look Gucci shop-in-shop including boutiques for accessories on the ground floor, women’s fashions on the second floor and a third-floor men’s shop-in-shop. Updates are expected. In Mississauga, Gucci has a concession at Holt Renfrew’s Square One flagship, which featured the brand’s updated aesthetic when it opened in 2017.
Soon, Holt Renfrew’s 50 Bloor Street West flagship in Toronto will see a new Gucci accessories shop open on its main-level, and a women’s ready-to-wear boutique will be relocated on the second floor with the brand’s updated look as well. Holt Renfrew’s 16,500 square foot men’s store at 100 Bloor Street West, which will remain open indefinitely despite an announcement that it was moving back into the 50 Bloor Street West flagship, carries an offering of Gucci men’s fashions on its upper level as well.
Holt Renfrew Ogilvy in Montreal, which will be completed next year, will include a large ground-level Gucci accessory boutique as well as a women’s fashion concession on the store’s third floor. In the spring, a Gucci men’s concession was unveiled on Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s fourth floor — the men’s floor spans 40,000 square feet with 25 vendor shops for some of the world’s biggest brands.
Gucci also operates a 2,000 square foot accessories concession at Nordstrom at CF Toronto Eaton Centre. There’s also a Gucci boutique at Vancouver International Airport as well as a shop at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. In November of 2018, Gucci unveiled a large outlet store at Toronto Premium Outlets, which saw two-hour long lineups on opening day (Retail construction specialist Amachris Corporation also built that store).
Gucci was founded in Florence in 1921 and is now part of global luxury conglomerate Kering Group. Last year, Lyst ranked Gucci as the hottest brand globally, with Kering-owned Balenciaga being ranked third.
We’ll follow up this article with photos in a separate piece detailing the new Fendi and Dior boutiques at Holt Renfrew Yorkdale. Dior will open in early September and will also be a ‘world of’ shop carrying accessories as well as fashions for both men and women. Holt Renfrew’s highly productive Yorkdale store features several large concession spaces for some of the world’s most important luxury brands. Chanel expanded its concession last year to more than 4,000 square feet, and other ground floor concessions include Prada, Miu Miu, Loro Piana, Christian Louboutin and Louis Vuitton. A ‘world of Burberry’ concession will be unveiled in the fall and is currently under construction.
Yorkdale’s Holt Renfrew has seen continuous updates over the past year as part of a major investment by Holt Renfrew in its fleet of stores. Included at Yorkdale is a recently expanded beauty hall as well as a women’s footwear area with new shop-in-shops for Dior and Roger Vivier. Renovations will continue as the store’s accessories area is updated with the move of Gucci and Dior into larger spaces, and a Brunello Cucinelli shop on the women’s second floor will also see updates, according to a building application.
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: email@example.com