Simons Brings American-Style Luxury Designer Departments to Canada’s Suburbs

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Popular Quebec City-based large-format multi-brand retailer La Maison Simons is bringing luxury designers to Canada’s suburbs, including markets which have traditionally seen such brands locate exclusively within downtown department stores. This Thursday, October 15, Simons will open at West Vancouver’s Park Royal, featuring a roster of pricey women’s and men’s ready-to-wear designers that have been previously unavailable in any suburban Lower Mainland shopping Centre. Several of Simons’ other suburban stores also carry pricey designer brands and in the case of Edmonton, Simons’ West Edmonton Mall store carries a more comprehensive women’s ready-to-wear designer selection than any downtown store. 

The West Vancouver Simons, spanning in excess of 100,000 square feet, will feature a variety of pricey ready-to-wear brands. If the West Edmonton Mall store is any indication, Simons’ Park Royal location could carry women’s clothing brands such as Balmain, Barbara Bui, Chloé, Dries Van Noten, Moschino, DSquared2, Hervé Leger, Mary Katrantzou, Missoni, Versace, Vivienne Westwood and others. Similarly, Simons’ men’s collections feature a stellar selection, including brands such as Christopher Kane, Kenzo, Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs, Moncler, Raf Simons, and others. Toronto-based menswear retailer Harry Rosen has operated a number of suburban locations for years, featuring a wide assortment of designer goods from some of the world’s top designers. We’ll therefore focus on women’s luxury ready-to-wear designers which until recently, have been carried primarily in downtown department store locations. 

In the Vancouver area, larger-format ready-to-wear designer floors can be found at Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, and ‘The Room‘ at Hudson’s Bay. All three of these stores are downtown, either within or connected to CF Pacific Centre. In some respects, Vancouver is behind cities such as Toronto, Montreal and even Calgary, Edmonton and Quebec City, as each of these cities feature large suburban stores with top-priced women’s designer fashion floors. 

Simons’ suburban Quebec City Place Ste-Foy flagship features a roster of luxury brands, similar to West Edmonton Mall designers listed above. The same can be said for the company’s suburban Montreal location at CF Carrefour Laval, which features an assortment of brands rivalling Simons’ multi-level downtown Montreal unit. In many respects, Simons pioneered the suburban Canadian women’s designer floor in Quebec, with the concept expanding into Alberta in October of 2012 with the opening of Simons’ 126,000 square foot West Edmonton Mall location. 

Prior to opening at West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton’s only luxury women’s designer floor, if it can be called that, was at the relatively small Holt Renfrew in the downtown Manulife Place. Holt’s Edmonton carries almost no luxury women’s clothing designers, save for a Burberry concession on the store’s second floor. What remains is a collection of contemporary-priced designers, paling in comparison to the roster of luxury clothing brands featured at Simons’ Edmonton store. It should be noted that in Edmonton, Holt Renfrew carries a variety of top handbag and shoe designers (such as Valentino and Gucci), not to mention a Louis Vuitton concession. Simons, in comparison, carries a very limited selection of leathergoods and footwear for men and women, and Simons lacks the shops-in-stores and concessions characteristic of Holt Renferw. 

Toronto’s top suburban women’s designer floor is at Holt Renfrew’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre location. Although it carried a variety of luxury brands prior to its substantial expansion, it wasn’t until last year that the store added womenswear brands such as Giorgio Armani and Chanel to its mix, creating a designer selection rivalling any suburban North American department store. Holt’s 122,000 square foot Mississauga Square One location will also feature luxury women’s designers when it opens next spring, as will Saks Fifth Avenue Sherway Gardens when it opens on February 25, 2016. 

Seattle-based Nordstrom introduced its upscale women’s Collectors department to its suburban Calgary CF Chinook Centre store when it opened in September of 2014. The Calgary Collectors department currently carries brands such as Missoni, Escada, Roberto Cavalli, Akris Punto and St. John Knits, all previously unavailable in suburban Calgary. Nordstrom will also feature an expansive Collectors department in its Yorkdale store when it opens in the fall of 2016, as well as a smaller Collectors department at its CF Sherway Gardens location, set to open mid-2017. As well, sources say that Nordstrom is looking to open at least one suburban Vancouver-area store, which could also feature a Collectors department. 

As Saks Fifth Avenue continues its Canadian expansion, sources say that it could open suburban stores in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal. Each of these would carry a variety of top women’s clothing brands, with sources at Saks confirming that it has secured womenswear labels such as Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Givenchy, Carolina Herrara, Valentino, and others for its Canadian stores. 


Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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  1. This is nothing to celebrate. As the last thing we want to copy, is the hollowed out shopping districts of American downtowns.

    Canada has been lucky to keep very vibrant downtowns, partly thanks to maintaining downtown as the top retail location in the region.

    This latest expansion of retail into the suburbs at such a high rate will do nothing but weaken downtown retail areas. And we should be cautious with this over expansion.

    A mall will never offer the magic of downtown shopping, and I find it odd that a place like Vancouver or Toronto would need multiple versions of the same offerings. When places like London and Paris often only off high end items in one downtown location.


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