Iconic Italian luxury menswear brand Isaia will open its first standalone Canadian store in April of 2021 in Toronto’s Yorkville area. The store will be located in a unique heritage building on Yorkville Avenue which also includes a contemporary addition. The updated space will become an immersive experience for fans of the brand in Canada.
Isaia was founded by Enrico Isaia in Naples, Italy in 1920 as a fabric store. In 1957, brothers Enrico, Rosario, and Corrado Isaia relocated the business to a village near Naples and converted the brand to a men’s tailoring company. The business continues to be family run with 15 stores operating globally as well as stockists in some of the world’s most prestigious multi-brand stores. Pricing for suit jackets is in the $3,500-$5,000 range, sweaters are typically in the $1,000-$1,700 range, dress shirts are priced from $500, and trousers start at about $675. The brand is recognized by its tiny red coral logo which is considered to be a good luck charm in Naples.
The Toronto Isaia flagship will span two levels in the building located at the southwest corner of Yorkville Avenue and Bellair Street at 77 Yorkville Avenue. The upper level, spanning about 1,600 square feet, will feature two rooms carrying the full assortment of Isaia’s clothing and made-to-measure as well as footwear, leather goods, jewellery, eyewear, and accessories. The lower level will feature an 800-square-foot social meeting place, called the Vesuvius Lounge, which will welcome guests. The lower level will also house back-of-house operations and tailor shops.
Isaia Will Replace Pink Tartan in Toronto’s Yorkville Area
Isaia will replace women’s fashion retailer Pink Tartan which had occupied 77 Yorkville Avenue for about a decade prior to its closure several days ago. Prior to that, antique retailer The Paisley Shop operated in the space.
We interviewed James Shay, President of Isaia in North and South America about the new Toronto store. He said that this month, construction will begin on the new Isaia store which in total will span about 3,500 square feet. Rather than put up construction hoarding over the building, two flags will be erected, including a Canadian flag as well as a flag with Isaia’s branding.
The interiors will be masculine with pops of red and aubergine, colours Isaia is known for, as well as two shades of greys which are also part of Isaia’s colour spectrum. The exterior of the building will be left essentially as it is, save for the pink door facing Yorkville Avenue which Pink Tartan added when it opened in 2010.
Mr. Shay said that Isaia very selectively opens stores globally and that they are a tool to create brand awareness while also immersing guests in the Isaia experience.
For years, Isaia has been available at several upscale retailers in Canada. That includes menswear retailer Harry Rosen and others.
Isaia is moving forward with its Canadian retail investment, despite the current challenges. A company representative explained that the company strongly believes in its value proposition, the skills and ability of its team members, with the expectation that the Canadian consumer will be receptive to the new store.
Isaia’s Toronto Flagship Will Act as Show Space to Facilitate Further Brand Awareness in Canada
Mr. Shay said that the Toronto Isaia flagship will act as a show space that will also help facilitate further awareness for the brand in Canada. In markets where Isaia has opened stores, wholesale accounts have also seen a boost.
For several years, Isaia had wanted the 77 Yorkville Avenue building which Pink Tartan had leased with a right to a lease extension. Initially, Isaia has signed a letter of intent to lease the recently completed commercial podium a few steps south at 94 Cumberland Street. Dutch landlord Prowinko owns both the 94 Cumberland property as well as 77 Yorkville Avenue. The day that the space became available after Pink Tartan decided not to renew its lease, Prowinko gave the green light for Isaia to lease the unique 77 Yorkville Avenue building.
Isaia wanted 77 Yorkville Avenue for its unique hybrid heritage-contemporary design. The Yorkville Avenue side of the building was built in 1867 and was originally the house of John Daniels, a constable for the village of Yorkville in the mid 1800s. A contemporary addition provides a juxtaposition in architectural styles while also expanding the space substantially from the size of the original residence.
Mr. Shay said that Toronto was chosen for an Isaia flagship store because of the city’s importance as a rapidly growing global city. Yorkville was specifically chosen because the neighbourhood has a high-end village-like feel with a rapidly growing population. Many other luxury brands are located in the area with a clustering on Yorkville Avenue as well as on nearby Bloor Street West.
In other cities, Isaia also operates architecturally unique stores. Mr. Shay explained that the San Francisco location, on Maiden Lane near Union Square, is in the city’s only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Beverly Hills store features a facade covered in foliage.
Isaia is selective in where it opens stores. In the United States, the company operates locations at 819 Madison Avenue in New York City, 9527 Brighton Way in Beverly Hills California, and at 140 Maiden Lane in San Francisco. This month, Isaia will open its fourth US location at 110 East Oak Street in Chicago’s affluent Gold Coast area.
Globally, Isaia operates other storefronts in Milan, Capri, Rome, London UK, Baku, Moscow (two locations), Yekaterinburg, Kiev, New Dehli, Tokyo, and Ulanbataar Mongolia. Given the few locations Isaia operates globally, it could be the case that the Yorkville flagship will be the only location for the brand in Canada. Mr. Shay noted that the Vancouver and Montreal markets are also strong markets for the brand.
Mr. Shay said that Isaia won’t be launching a Canadian e-commerce site as part of the corporate push into this country, though consumers can shop the US and European sites if desired.
Isaia is in the process of hiring several employees for the new Toronto store, including sales associates and administrative positions. Candidates may forward their resumes to Toronto@isaia.it