Upscale Toronto-based multi-brand menswear retailer philip is relocating its operations to a strategically located new space at Toronto’s Yorkville Village shopping centre, formerly Hazelton Lanes. The retailer has seen success through personalized client relations, resulting in its exceptional customer loyalty.
Brother and sister team Philip Zappacosta and Leandra Zappacosta, opened ‘philip’ (spelled with a lowercase ‘p’) at Hazelton Lanes three years ago, in a retail space on the mall’s lower level across from Whole Foods. As of this month, the retailer has relocated to a luxurious new space located upstairs between retailers TNT and Andrews. The ‘philip’ store is an intimate size in order to create a sense of home for its clientele, featuring a modern façade and custom built interiors. The store’s millwork is imported Italian exotic woods and artisan Italian marble flooring, accented with high polished chrome and bevelled glass, all built to facilitate a customized experience for their customers.
The ‘philip’ retail store boasts an exceptionally loyal customer base. The Zappacostas say that their team of staff is an extension of their family, with the store featuring age-old traditions including tailoring and collection curation that was started by their grandfather, Fernando Zappacosta, who had tailor shops in Toronto’s Little Italy on College Street in the 1960’s. Tailoring and fit are therefore of utmost importance to retailer ‘philp’ as well, ensuring clients look their best when wearing their purchases. “Clothing is carefully curated to characterize the appropriate expression of ones own image” explains Philip Zappacosta, “And that’s why we are the best and we are the only ones that do what we do.”
Being an unparalleled independent retailer, the members of the philip organization are able to individually get to know their clients building wardrobes based on habits, attitudes and taste standards. It’s the personalized, bonding relationships that are key, according to the Zappacostas. This includes properly stylizing a man with designer brands and their own offering in order to create the total look that is suitable for their clients – be it a more conservative suit or bolder fashions for a night out. Private at-home and in-office appointments are also available for busy clients.
Brands carried in-store include John Varvatos Collection, Armani Collezioni, Zegna, Paul & Shark, Corneliani, Eton of Sweden, Nanni Milano Belts and in-house brand philip – featuring both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure offerings. The founders’ father and mother, Tony and Bernadette Zappacosta, operated a chain of stores in all of the major Cadillac Fairview malls across Canada under the ‘Fenzi‘ nameplate in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s, they brought the Nanni Belt line to Canada, working with the Toronto Blue Jays to promote the stores during their 1991 and 1992 back-to-back World Series Championships. The stores were promoted by Roberto Alomar, all-star, second baseman, hall-of-famer for Toronto Blue Jays.
Philip and Leandra noted that it’s actually the high-end, luxury brands that do the highest sales in their store, reflecting the demographic of shoppers in the affluent Yorkville area. The team is looking to continue to curate and cultivate its brand mix as the Yorkville neighbourhood evolves, with the area attracting the likes of Christian Louboutin and Chanel boutiques on adjacent Yorkville Avenue.
Philip and Leandra Zappacosta also explained how they have low staff turnover in their store, which is a reflection of treating employees well and making them feel like family. Being that the store is an extension of them in many ways, Mr. Zappacosta explained the importance of hard work and ethics, both in client and staff relations. Mr. Zappacosta praised staff at his store well, crediting their exceptional efforts for his store’s success. He also credited landlord First Capital Realty for being visionary in their redevelopment of the neighbourhood.
Although ‘philip’ is an intimate one-location retailer, the Zappacosta’s explained that at some point, more ‘philip’ store locations could open in Canada. That will happen only when the right circumstances arise, however, as any growth will be organic.
All photos in this article are via Daniel Silver Photography.