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Luxury Brand CELINE to Open 1st Standalone Canadian Flagship

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LVMH-owned luxury brand Celine will open its first standalone Canadian flagship store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre this spring. It’s part of a bigger expansion for Celine in Canada that includes several shop-in-store concessions as well as the possibility that other standalone stores could open in other Canadian cities.

Celine’s Yorkdale location will be across from Holt Renfrew’s recently expanded flagship at Yorkdale in an expansion wing of the mall that debuted in 2012. Celine will occupy two retail spaces that span a total of about 4,850 square feet, making it considerably larger than any of the brand’s shop-in-store concessions that are located in Canadian Holt Renfrew stores. Celine will be flanked by a recently opened Balenciaga flagship at one end and a Tiffany & Co. store on the other.

The Celine store will be made possible by merging two former storefronts at Yorkdale that were once occupied by Ted Baker and Longchamp. The former Ted Baker space measured 3,227 square feet — Ted Baker recently relocated up the hall to a new 4,320-square-foot space that was formerly occupied by the The North Face. Longchamp also just relocated from its former 1,618-square-foot space to a new 1,940 square foot storefront at Yorkdale next to a recently opened Furla store.

SOON-TO-BE CELINE STORE IN YORKDALE. PHOTO: CRAIG PATTERSON

Celine is known for its womenswear and in the fall of 2019, Celine also launched a menswear line for the first time. The Yorkdale flagship will carry Celine fashions for both men and women, including ready-to-wear as well as bags, accessories and footwear.

Celine’s most updated store design will be showcased at Yorkdale. That includes ample use of stone that includes rich veined slabs of marble, granite, and travertine that appears on walls, shelves, and blocky columns, and floors lined with Basaltina lava stone. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors and steel surfaces characterize new stores, as well as wood and leather furniture that brings warm accents to brown to the otherwise sleek black-and-white palette.

Celine also recently dropped the accent from its first “E”, and was formerly spelled ‘Céline’. Finding a photo of a store with the new branding proves challenging as many boutiques have simply removed the accent from storefronts in anticipation of renovations.

MAP OF YORKDALE, PINPOINTING THE NEW CELINE LOCATION.

In Canada, Celine has also expanded its direct-to-consumer operations through luxury retailer Holt Renfrew. Celine’s concessions at Holts are separated into categories in dedicated departments, with separate shops for leather goods and accessories, women’s ready-to-wear, and men’s ready-to-wear. At Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver flagship, Celine has three separate shops for women’s and men’s fashions as well leather goods and accessories. Holt Renfrew’s Vancouver store was the first in Canada to showcase the new men’s Celine fashion line.

In Calgary, a Celine leather goods and accessory shop is housed on the main floor of the city’s Holt Renfrew store. In Toronto, Holt Renfrew’s 50 Bloor Street West flagship houses a makeshift Celine shop for the brand’s women’s ready-to-wear, which is expected to see an updated space as part of Holts’ flagship renovation.

Holt Renfrew Ogilvy in Montreal, which will be completed in April of this year, is expected to house separate Celine shops for leather goods and accessories as well as a ready-to-wear boutique for women. When Holt Renfrew Ogilvy’s 25,000 square foot men’s floor was unveiled in the spring of 2019, a Celine men’s boutique was expected to open as was indicated on construction signage. According to Montreal correspondent Maxime Frechette, the Celine men’s boutique was halted and the space is now occupied by Valentino.

Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue also house Celine shop-in-stores in their Canadian stores, though they operate under a licensed wholesale model. Nordstrom’s Vancouver flagship has a Celine accessory boutique on its street-level as well as a Celine shop-in-store for women’s ready-to-wear on its women’s floor.

Nordstrom’s Yorkdale store in Toronto also houses separate Celine shops for leather goods and accessories as well as a women’s ready-to-wear boutique, though sales staff over the weekend questioned the future of the Celine ready-to-wear boutique once the Yorkdale Celine flagship opens. Saks Fifth Avenue’s downtown Toronto flagship houses a Celine leather goods and accessory shop on Saks’ street level — a Celine women’s ready-to-wear boutique was formerly located on Saks’ third-level women’s designer floor, though the shop shuttered several months ago and was replaced with a Burberry boutique space.

Yorkdale’s Celine flagship likely won’t be its last standalone storefront in Canada. Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area, which is now seeing an influx of luxury brands opening flagship stores, could see Celine open another Toronto flagship location either on the up-and-coming Yorkville Avenue or possibly on the ‘Mink Mile’ stretch of Bloor Street West. We anticipate that Celine would locate on Yorkville Avenue, given the opportunity to build a brand new building on the street which since 2016 has seen the opening of flagships for brands including Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Off-White, Brunello Cucinelli and Stone Island, with more said to be on the way.

NEW CELINE CONCEPT DESIGN. PHOTOS: CELINE

In Vancouver, one might expect Celine to open a standalone store somewhere in the downtown Vancouver Alberni Street ‘Luxury Zone’, though space is limited and the brand may find it challenging to find a retail space. Celine could therefore look to the Oakridge Shopping Centre on Vancouver’s West Side, or possibly at ‘The Amazing Brentwood’ in Burnaby. Landlord QuadReal is redeveloping Oakridge to house a run of luxury boutiques with Tiffany & Co. having recently relocated there, and the anticipated brand offering would be appropriate for a Celine locations. At ‘The Amazing Brentwood’, the SHAPE/L Catterton partnership is also targeting luxury brands such as Celine, though it’s unclear at this time how many brands will choose to locate on a proposed main level luxury run. L Catterton is an investment arm of the LVMH Group, which owns the Celine brand.

In Montreal as well, the massive Royalmount project is said to be in the planning stages to open a luxury wing that would house multiple brands in a wing spanning as much as 70,000 square feet, not including an upscale anchor department store brand that is said to be in talks with developer Carbonleo. L Catterton also invested in the Royalmount project and as a result, it is expected to attract several LVMH-owned luxury stores to the centre as well as other luxury players not currently in the Montreal market.

Globally, Celine operates a network of standalone stores as well as concessions and wholesale accounts in various major markets. In the United States, Celine operates standalone stores in markets including New York City (two stores, Madison Avenue and Wooster Street in Soho), Beverly Hills (Rodeo Drive), Costa Mesa (South Coast Plaza), Miami (Miami Design District), Dallas (Highland Park), Houston (Houston Galleria), Las Vegas (two stores, Crystals and Wynn), in suburban Washington DC (Tyson’s Galleria), and at the Ala Moana Centre in Honolulu. According to Celine’s website, all of the US stores carry Celine’s women’s ready-to-wear and leather goods/accessories.

The new Celine men’s line is available at Celine’s standalone stores in the US in Beverly Hills, the Miami Design District, the two New York City stores, and at the Wynn location in Las Vegas. In the United States as well, Celine is carried in stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and others. Only two multi-brand stores in the United States currently carry Celine’s men’s line, including Bergdorf Goodman Man in New York City as well as at the unique Hirschleifer’s store in Manhasset on New York’s Long Island.

As with many fashion brands, Celine has undergone a transformation at the helm of a new creative director. In January of 2018, Celine announced that Hedi Slimane would become the brand’s new designer, after Slimane led French luxury brand Saint Laurent from 2012 to 2016. Prior to that, he was the menswear designer for French luxury brand Christian Dior. Under Slimane’s direction with Celine, some were critical that his vision for the brand’s clothing was similar in style to those he designed for Saint Laurent, though Celine now appears to have been embraced by many and is said to be seeing success globally.

LVMH has owned Celine since 1996. The Celine brand was founded by Céline Vipiana in 1945, and was considered to be one of the first luxury brands in the industry. The company got stared as a made-to-measure children’s shoe business, and when the brand’s first store opened in Paris, its logo was a red elephant. In 1960, Celine repositioned itself as a women’s ready-to-wear fashion brand, with conservative styles with a ‘designer sportswear’ approach. Celine expanded to also be known for its leather goods such as bags, loafers and gloves. In 1973, Celine redesigned its logo to become an intertwined “C”. Ms. Vipiana remained at the helm of Celine until her death in 1997. American designer Michael Kors became Celine’s creative director after Ms. Vipiana’s death, and he left Celine to focus on his own brand in 2004. In 2008, noted designer Phoebe Philo took over the artistic direction of Celine, with her first collection for the brand debuting in the spring/summer of 2010. Prior to Celine, Ms. Philo directed French luxury brand Chloé after the exit of Stella McCartney in 2001.

While Yorkdale’s Celine flagship is the first corporately-owned location for the brand in Canada, both Toronto and Vancouver once had franchised Celine boutiques until the late 1990’s. In Vancouver, luxury multi-brand retailer Collections International operated two standalone Celine shops — one was located next to a former Chanel boutique at 755 Burrard Street (both spaces are now occupied by Coach), and a second Celine boutique was housed on the third level of the Pan Pacific Hotel which was once home to various luxury brands. In 1976, Toronto multi-brand luxury retailer Ira Berg opened Canada’s first Celine boutique at 1508 Yonge Street just north of St. Clair Avenue, in a space currently occupied by a Subway restaurant. Several years later, Ira Berg opened a second Celine boutique on Toronto’s ‘Mink Mile’ at 110 Bloor Street West. Both shuttered when Ira Berg went bankrupt in 1996.

We’ll follow up on this story when Celine opens its Yorkdale flagship in the spring.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. 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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3 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting to see that Celine might be a tenant in Carbonleo’s Royalmount project in Montreal. If this is the sort of retailer Carbonleo hopes to attract, it would seem they want to position the complex as a Montreal equivalent to Toronto’s Yorkdale and a potential competitor to Centreville in upmarket shopping. This represents an even bigger vote of confidence in Montreal’s economy than their Four Seasons Hotel and Holt Renfrew Ogilvy "luxury ecosystem" on Rue de la Montagne. The metro area is currently experiencing a surfeit of retail space as evidenced by the notable level of commercial vacancies on the major arteries such as Rue Sainte Catherine and Rue Saint Denis, a problem the city is currently working to alleviate. Another shopping mall would seem to be the last thing the city needs. Rockland Centre, for example, is only a few kilometres away. Carbonleo seems to recognize potential here anyway. I hope they won’t play a zero-sum game and wind up stealing market share from Centreville and the major commercial streets. Montreal’s healthy, vibrant downtown has always been one of its strengths relative to most North American metropolises. If Centreville and Royalmount can thrive simultaneously, that would definitely signify a new and profound level of wealth in the Greater Montreal region.

  2. I’m curious to know if there is any hesitation for luxury retailers to commit to the Amazing Brentwood because of the Oakridge redevelopment. Brentwood is about 75% complete so brands looking to enter the Vancouver market could do so much sooner there I imagine. At the same time, as glamourous as the Amazing Brentwood appears, the plans for Oakridge are awe-inspiring. Perhaps brands in the long run would prefer to wait to join Oakridge at the expense of Brentwood. However with L Catterton as a stake holder I would suspect some LVMH brands at Brentwood. Can Metro Vancouver support 3 distinct luxury zones (Alberni, Brentwood, Oakridge)? My money in on Oakridge being the long-term winner as brands like Tiffany’s and Harry Rosen already operate there but I would love to see luxury brands present at both.

    • Honestly, the last thing the city needs is more luxury goods. Downtown Vancouver should be enough considering that Oakridge isn’t that far away and Brentwood, however nice that mall will be will still have the biggest problem which is that it’s stuck in a boring and fairly dead part of north Burnaby.

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