By Craig Patterson
After three years of anticipation, LVMH-owned French luxury brand Christian Dior has opened a massive flagship store on Toronto’s Mink Mile. It is now the largest Dior store in North America, by far, and is the first in the Western Hemisphere to feature the Dior home furnishings collection.
We first reported on Dior’s plans to move into a corner retail space at The Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West in September of 2016. Dior secured a retail space formerly occupied by Chanel — we reported on Chanel’s plans to relocate in November of 2015, its closure December 31st 2016, and photos of its relocated Yorkville Avenue flagship in November of 2017.
Dianne Lemm of brokerage JLL co-brokered the deal for Dior’s Colonnade flagship with Hanna Struever, Principal of Retail Portfolio Solutions. Ms. Lemm and Ms. Struever also co-brokered the deal to place luxury brand St. John across the street in a retail space once occupied by Hermes. Morguard is the landlord for The Colonnade. [Download JLL’s recently released Bloor-Yorkville Study]
Dior’s Colonnade flagship spans more than 13,300 square feet over two levels. The store initially appears unassuming when one enters the store from its Bloor Street entrance — the main floor of the store is 3,117 square feet, according to Morguard lease plans. The second level is something completely different, featuring soaring ceilings that include natural light from third-level windows that were incorporated into the flagship’s design. The second level spans 10,194 square feet according to lease plans, which means ascending up the store’s grand staircase is a must for anyone visiting the new store.
The stairwell itself is a showpiece, featuring a three-storey commissioned work by artist Ian Davenport that appears to be paint cascading from the walls down onto the floor, creating a puddle-like appearance. On the second floor, several of Dior’s handbags, placed near the artwork, also feature a similar design.
The store’s main floor includes a range of handbags and accessories from the Dior brand, displayed in an open concept space. At the back of the first floor is a fragrance section with bottles displayed on metal shelving.
The sprawling second floor is divided into several departments, with a central atrium looking downwards toward the store’s main floor. Included are open-concept rooms for women’s ready to wear, women’s footwear salon, men’s ready-to-wear areas and a men’s footwear boutique. A selection of Dior jewellery can be found in a boutique area accessed from the women’s ready-to-wear area — the jewellery area faces windows overlooking busy Bloor Street, as well as the atrium overlooking the store’s main level.
The new Bloor Street Dior is the first in the Western Hemisphere to also feature Dior’s home furnishings collection, and is one of only a handful of stores in the world to feature the line. A table set in the centre of the Dior Home department sets the tone, with home accessories along the walls.
Staff in the store said that a new personal shopping suite, with windows facing onto Bloor Street, will also open soon.
The Colonnade was the first mixed-use building in Canada when it was erected in 1963. The building’s design by architect Gerald Robinson was influenced by the popular Brutalist movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and features large areas of exposed concrete and a mix of block patterns and sweeping Gothic curves. Other retailers in The Colonnade include Coach, Mulberry, a Prada flagship, Cartier, Black Goat Cashmere, Escada and Moncler. Toronto-based tabletop retailer William Ashley operates an impressive store in The Colonnade that includes a 1,077 square foot main level with a Teuscher of Switzerland chocolate boutique on its main level, with an additional 11,304 square feet upstairs. At one time The Colonnade was an enclosed shopping centre but has since morphed into a Bloor Street-facing retail building housing flagships for various high-end brands.
Dior is taking the Toronto market seriously with the opening of its impressive Bloor Street flagship, as well as two other boutiques in the city. Earlier this month, a Dior accessories boutique concession, spanning more than 1,000 square feet, opened inside Holt Renfrew’s flagship at 50 Bloor Street West. In October, Dior will also unveil a ‘World of Dior’ concession boutique at Holt Renfrew’s Yorkdale store, spanning about 3,800 square feet on one level. The Yorkdale Dior store, which will stand alongside recently opened ‘world of’ Fendi and Gucci storefronts, will carry Dior’s ready-to-wear for men and women as well as accessories and handbags. Holt Renfrew has also opened boutiques for Dior women’s footwear in its Bloor Street and Yorkdale stores.
[Above (2 slides): Construction plans for Dior’s Toronto flagship, obtained from a source involved in the project]
Dior’s first standalone Canadian store, which spans 9,600 square feet over two levels, opened in the summer of 2015 in the historic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The store occupies the prominent corner space of the hotel’s retail podium with frontage on both West Georgia Street as well as on Burrard Street. The Vancouver flagship was the largest Dior store in North America for more than four years, prior to the opening of the new Toronto flagship.
Dior is also expanding its presence in the Montreal market as it prepares to open a boutique at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy in Montreal. Montreal’s Dior will span about 2,000 square feet on the street level of Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, joining a roster of world-renowned luxury brands that are opening one-by-one as an overhaul on the 250,000 square foot Holt Renfrew Ogilvy continues. In the spring of this year, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy unveiled a 25,000 square foot concourse-level beauty hall, as well as a 40,000 square foot men’s floor that houses 25 luxury brand concessions for some of the world’s most prestigious brands. Included on the men’s floor is a soon-to-open Dior men’s boutique that carries ready-to-wear as well as footwear and accessories. A women’s ready-to-wear boutique is said to be opening on the store’s third floor in several months.
Dior also operates concessions at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, as well as at Saks Fifth Avenue in downtown Toronto. The ground-floor Dior concession at Holts Vancouver is expansive and includes a street-facing feature wall. In Toronto, the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship at CF Toronto Eaton Centre features a main floor Dior accessory boutique concession that we featured in Retail Insider when it opened in the spring of 2016, as well as a women’s ready-to-wear boutique on Saks’ third floor that stands alongside several other luxury brand boutiques.
Toronto’s ‘Mink Mile’, which spans from Yonge Street to the east and Avenue Road to the west, is seeing a transformation that places it amongst some of the world’s top luxury addresses. East of Dior, the Holt Renfrew flagship at 50 Bloor Street West is undergoing a transformation that includes renovated interiors, the addition of new luxury brand concessions, and a new facade for the first time since the store opened in 1978. Eataly, the Italian grocerant concept, is opening across the street in a couple of months at the overhauled Manulife Centre at 55 Bloor Street West. The southwest corner of Yonge and Bloor will see a tower spanning more than 1000 feet, courtesy of Mizrahi developments, that will include a flagship store for a soon-to-be-named retailer as well as a new Andaz hotel with more than 500 luxury condominium apartments above it. Landlord Morguard is updating its 60 Bloor Street West and 77 Bloor Street West office towers, both housing retail at the base. Menswear retailer Harry Rosen has been renovating its flagship at 82 Bloor Street West to include new shop-in-stores for luxury brands.
Other luxury brand flagships on the Mink Mile include a stunning Hermes flagship that opened in the fall of 2017, as well as flagships for Prada, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, MCM and others. The clustering of boutiques are expected to draw affluent locals as well as an ever increasing number of tourists visiting Toronto. Yorkville Avenue, a short walk north of Bloor Street West, is also seeing a transformation that includes new flagships for brands including Chanel, Brunello Cucinelli (its largest in North America), Versace, Off-White and, soon, Stone Island. Landlord First Capital Realty is in talks with several luxury brands, according to sources, to open storefronts on Yorkville Avenue as the street continues to see redevelopment. Dior was said to have been considering a retail space next to Chanel that once housed a Diesel flagship store before Dior secured its current space at The Colonnade on Bloor.
While Toronto currently boasts Dior’s largest flagship store in North America, the brand’s flagship on 57th Street in New York City will grow to become much larger next year. The current two-level store spans 8,000 square feet. A source at Dior says that the store will add three more levels by annexing space from the LVMH tower above — the expanded store will span a whopping 23,000 square feet when completed in 2020. Included will be departments for women’s and men’s ready-to-wear as well as a home furnishings department, a Dior high jewellery salon, and a Dior Café.
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