Miami-based multi-brand luxury retailer The Webster will open its first Canadian storefront in July of 2021 in Toronto’s affluent Yorkville neighbourhood. The Webster is expected to disrupt luxury retailing in the city with an innovate strategy that includes one-on-one clienteling and a selection of luxury goods that in some instances are not sold elsewhere.
The Webster’s Toronto store will span about 6,500 square feet in a heritage building at 121 Scollard Street near the corner of Hazelton Avenue. The building was built in 1884 by Leeds Sheppard and it will be preserved and designed by Stéphane Parmentier, a Parisian interior designer who is also the creative director of The Webster Home vertical.
The Scollard Street store will be The Webster’s eighth retail store and the brand’s first outside of the United States.
Laure Heriard Dubreuil, Founder and CEO of The Webster, said, “It is absolutely incredible to think that we will soon have a permanent international outpost! I am so grateful for the success and support that The Webster has had domestically thus far, and I am so excited for the new adventure that awaits us in Toronto. It is such an energetic city full of life and experiences, a perfect fit for our colourful curations. I am looking forward to working with Stephane again to bring another one of our visions to life.”
First Capital REIT owns the 121 Scollard Street building which is currently undergoing a renovation to house The Webster.
“First Capital are wonderful partners and we have been completely in sync since the start with our execution of luxury retail, as we both believe in creating more than a shopping experience for our clients,” she said.
Eric Sherman, Vice President, Real Estate-Yorkville at First Capital REIT said, “We are thrilled to welcome The Webster’s first international flagship to Toronto and specifically to our portfolio in Yorkville. The Webster has quickly emerged as one of the most prestigious and coveted luxury concepts in the world. They are committed to delivering unique and curated experiences within a luxury environment that mirrors First Capital’s approach to the neighbourhood as a whole. We are proud to deliver another creative transformation of a gorgeous heritage building in Yorkville which has become the chosen destination for luxury concepts and consumers alike.”
Michiel Maes, Chief Operating Officer of The Webster, said, “Toronto had been on our radar for a while. It’s one of the largest and most diverse cities in North America, and it welcomes a large number of international tourists every year. Those are all factors that have shown to be huge drivers for our success since we started in Miami 12 years ago. We thus see an enormous demand for luxury fashion in Toronto.”
The Webster is expected to take some market share from retailers such as Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue — some of the same brands are carried at those stores, with The Webster boasting a unique assortment not found elsewhere. Founder Laure Heriard Dubreuil for years developed relationships with key brands and obtains some merchandise via consignment. Prior to founding The Webster, Ms. Heriard Dubreuil lived in Paris and worked as a top merchandiser for Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent.
More than 100 of the industry’s leading fashion designers are available at The Webster stores including ready-to-wear for women, men, and kids. Brands include Alexander Wang, Amiri, Amina Muaddi, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Celine, Chanel, Chloé, Dior, Dries Van Noten, Fendi, Fear of God, Givenchy, Gucci, Heron Preston, Jacquemus, Khaite, LaQuan Smith, Loewe, Marine Serre, Off-White, Paco Rabanne, Palm Angels, Raf Simons, Rhude, Saint Laurent, and The Row among others. A private label brand called LHD, designed by the founder herself, adds an extra element of uniqueness with bold silhouettes and playful prints.
The Webster also features an expanded assortment of products including fine jewellery, home goods and most recently, beauty products.
The Webster was founded in 2009 when Laure Heriard Dubreuil opened a 20,000-square-foot store in the former Webster Hotel at 1220 Collins Avenue in South Beach, Miami. The Art Deco building spans three floors and became a draw for locals and tourists. “The idea was a place where you can feel very comfortable,” said Ms. Heriard Dubreuil of The Webster’s concept. “It’s a place to spend time. You arrive, you take off your shoes, you’re at someone’s house, or you’re in your gigantic closet, and you can try everything.” Rather than organize the store according to brand, Ms. Heriard Dubreuil merchandised it as if it were a personal wardrobe by mixing big brands with the emerging, arranging everything intuitively by mood, which was revolutionary at the time.
A decade after opening the first location, The Webster opened stores in Bal Harbour (Bal Harbour Shops) near Miami, in Houston Texas (adjacent to Houston Galleria) , at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa California, in New York City’s SoHo area, in Los Angeles at the Beverly Center, and most recently in Montecito California. The Webster also has an outlet store at Sawgrass Mills in Florida. Each store has its own personality.
Collaborations and limited edition product availability are also part of The Webster’s appeal. The retailer has partnered with brands such as Paco Rabanne, Off-White, and Fenty, and has permanent collaborations with David Mallett and Joanna Czech who operate studios out of The Webster’s SoHo location in New York City.
The Webster’s retail strategy seems to be working. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, sales are up significantly for the retailer this year over last which speaks to the power of personal relationships with its top clients. In Toronto, The Webster is expected to court some of the city’s wealthiest and trendiest residents.
This week the 121 Scollard Street building was under tarp and construction could be heard within. An expansion at the back of the building could house a restaurant space according to one source, with the front of the building dedicated to fashion. It’s unclear what colour The Webster’s Toronto building will be — the retailer’s South Beach flagship and Beverly Centre locations both feature pink facades. One source said that the Toronto store could be painted gold.
The location of The Webster in Toronto is unique. Scollard Street is a much quieter street when compared to nearby Yorkville Avenue and Cumberland Street. Bylaws state that new restaurants are not permitted to open on Scollard Street, which is home to a mix of upscale retailers and service businesses as well as several multi-million dollar residential townhouses. The Webster will be located next to fashion retailer George C. which fronts onto Hazelton Avenue, with fashion guru Nicholas Mellamphy’s by appointment luxury showroom Cabine being located across the street on Hazelton Avenue.
Yorkville Avenue, located a block south of Scollard Street, has seen a flurry of leasing activity since 2016 that included the addition of several luxury brands. Christian Louboutin, Chanel, Off-White, Brunello Cucinelli, Versace, Stone Island, and others have opened on Yorkville Avenue and more brands are said to be in talks to open on the street as well. To the south of Yorkville Avenue is Cumberland Street which features a mix of retail and restaurants, and a block south of Cumberland Street is the prestigious ‘Mink Mile’ stretch of Bloor Street West which houses flagship stores for some of the world’s top luxury brands.
The addition of The Webster to Toronto’s Yorkville will help the area attract other luxury brand stores. For the past several years, the Yorkdale Shopping Centre has attracted some of the world’s top luxury brands, which are now said in some instances to be looking to open second locations in Bloor-Yorkville. With recent announcements such as Italian luxury menswear brand Isaia’s move into Yorkville, the area is expected to see more luxury brand store announcements into 2021.