Kering-owned, UK-based luxury brand Alexander McQueen will open its first standalone storefront in Canada later this year at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The move signals confidence in brick-and-mortar luxury retail in Canada and puts Yorkdale over the top as the epicentre for a global brand clustering in the country.
The Yorkdale Alexander McQueen store will replace a J. Crew store in the mall that had a 4,125-square-foot main floor as well as a 1,250-square-foot lower level. The facade will span an impressive 43 feet according to lease plans. The Alexander McQueen brand features ready-to-wear clothing for women and men as well as a range of bags, accessories, jewellery, and footwear. The company states that its designs feature a “juxtaposition between the feminine and the masculine, fragility and strength, romance and rebellion, man and machine”. Accessories with skulls are a trademark of the McQueen brand.
McQueen will be located between Yorkdale’s Montblanc and Burberry boutiques in the mall’s original luxury wing. Retailers across from the new McQueen include David Yurman and Richemont jewellery brand boutiques that include Piaget, Panerai, Vacheron Constantine, IWC, and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Luxury brand conglomerate Kering, based in Paris, has four other brand stores at Yorkdale including Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Gucci. Saint Laurent opened its Yorkdale location in November of 2016 near the new McQueen storefront. Bottega Veneta opened an impressive Yorkdale storefront in November of 2018 and Balenciaga opened a large flagship in late 2019. Gucci, which operates a 5,000-square-foot concession space technically at Holt Renfrew, unveiled its new location in August of 2019. Italian menswear brand Brioni is the only fashion brand under the Kering umbrella that will lack a standalone storefront at Yorkdale when McQueen opens this year. Kering also owns several jewellery brands including Boucheron which has a presence in a boutique space inside of Holt Renfrew at Yorkdale.
In Canada, Alexander McQueen fashions are also carried at several upscale multi-brand stores. Holt Renfrew carries McQueen pieces for women in all of its stores in Canada with a particular focus on the Vancouver location, as well as some menswear. Nordstrom’s Vancouver flagship store features a women’s McQueen shop-in-store. In Toronto, Saks Fifth Avenue’s downtown flagship features a McQueen women’s boutique on its third level as well as an area on the main floor for handbags. When the CF Sherway Gardens Saks Fifth Avenue store opened in February of 2016, it included a McQueen accessory boutique on its main level as well as a women’s ready-to-wear boutique upstairs. Montreal-based retailer SSENSE also carries an assortment of Alexander McQueen on its website.
The standalone McQueen storefront could also impact sales at Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue in Toronto as some consumers may be drawn to the full collection within the new flagship store. The brand is said to have seen strong sales in the Vancouver market which is indicative that a second direct-to-consumer storefront for McQueen could also open if a proper space could be found. It’s unclear if McQueen will pull out of some multi-brand retailers as it grows its direct-to-consumer channel in Canada, and it’s a trend being seen with other brands expanding into the market.
The Alexander McQueen brand operates standalone stores globally in major markets as well as concessions in upscale department stores. According to the McQueen website, most of the brand’s stores are in Asia while others are concentrated in Europe.
In the United States, Alexander McQueen operates 11 standalone storefronts in major fashion destinations, including on urban street fronts and in luxury shopping centres. In New York City, McQueen has stores at 747 Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side and at 71 Green Street in Soho. In Miami, McQueen has stores at the Miami Design District as well as at the luxurious Bal Harbour Shops. Two McQueen boutiques are located in Las Vegas at the Bellagio and Wynn retail complexes. In Beverly Hills California, McQueen operates a flagship store at 457 N. Rodeo Drive, and the brand has a location at the upscale South Coast Plaza in Orange County. A standalone McQueen store operates at 58 Geary Street in San Francisco, and in Honolulu McQueen has a store at the popular and busy Ala Moana Shopping Centre. The historic outdoor luxury shopping centre Highland Park Village in Dallas is home to the only standalone McQueen storefront in Texas.
It’s not yet known if Alexander McQueen will open any other standalone stores in Canada. Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville is the city’s other luxury brand clustering and McQueen could look to open a location either on Yorkville Avenue or on the luxury run of Bloor Street West. In Vancouver, Alexander McQueen may look to open a store in downtown Vancouver, most likely on or near the 1000 block of Alberni Street or within the overhauled Oakridge Shopping Centre which will be completed in 2024.
The addition of Alexander McQueen to Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre is indicative of the mall’s prominence as a luxury epicentre for Canada. Many of the world’s top luxury brands have opened stores at Yorkdale and more are said to be interested. Yorkdale has managed to overtake Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville and Vancouver’s Luxury Zone as the top destination for mono-brand luxury stores in Canada as the mall finds its place among North America’s top shopping centres in terms of luxury brand offerings.
The Alexander McQueen brand was founded by fashion designer, Lee Alexander McQueen, in 1992. He became chief designer for luxury brand, Givenchy in 1996 and left the position in 2001. He received the British Designer of the Year award in 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2003, as well as CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award in 2003. French luxury conglomerate Kering acquired the Alexander McQueen brand in 2001.
Lee Alexander McQueen tragically died of suicide on February 11, 2010 at the age of 40 shortly after the death of his mother. Early on in his career, he partnered with fashion icon Isabella Blow while he gained the reputation of being an ‘enfant terrible’ in British fashion with designs such as the ‘bumster’ trouser. Blow, a good friend and noted magazine editor, took her own life in May of 2007.
Sarah Burton is currently the Creative Director for the Alexander McQueen brand. She was appointed Head of Design for womenswear at Alexander McQueen in 2000 and in May 2010, she became Creative Director of the entire brand having worked alongside Lee Alexander McQueen for more than 14 years. Burton was recipient of the Designer of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards in November 2011 and was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in April 2012 and was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the British fashion industry in June 2012.