Vancouver-Based RYU Apparel to Shut All But 1 Storefront


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Vancouver-based RYU Apparel Inc. (aka “Respect Your Universe”) announced that it will focus on online sales as it shuts two of its three remaining retail storefronts. At one time the company had planned to open over 100 stores prior to financial struggles. 

The brand once had 11 stores and recently has been in the process of downsizing its brick-and-mortar presence after a restructuring last year. Now the company says that it will shut its Toronto and New York City storefronts while keeping its Vancouver flagship open for the time being. The New York City store closed Sunday February 20th and the Toronto store will shut on March 27th. 

The soon-to-close Toronto store is located at 361 Queen Street West and the shuttered New York City storefront was located at 76 N 4th Street in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. The company’s 5,600 square foot Vancouver flagship is located at 1745 W. 4th Avenue. Until recently RYU had stores in the California market and had planned to target major markets across North America as well as internationally. 

Exterior of Vancouver RYU store on 4th Street. Photo: RYU

In a press release, RYU says that it is instead focusing on e-commerce after seeing a boost in online sales.

Retail Insider did some digging and found sources saying that challenges with current company management are partly responsible for the brand’s issues including a lack of consumer awareness.

A source Retail Insider spoke with said that RYU had the opportunity to work with a well-known fashion designer who would have propelled the brand to new heights while bringing new manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. RYU’s headquarters would have relocated to Toronto. A deal never concluded after a brief meeting that went sideways. The source said that now “without a brand” RYU’s future as an apparel business is limited — indeed a concern for a publicly traded company. 

In 2014 Marcello Leone, part of the luxury retail family dynasty in Vancouver, took control of RYU with plans to make it a global brand with over 100 storefronts. A challenging retail environment and the pandemic halted much of the expansion and Leone himself exited his company nearly two years ago. 

Interior of Queen Street West RYU store. Photo: RYU

In April of 2020 Leone was paid the equivalent of $1.845 million in shares as a settlement and he exited RYU. Toronto-based entrepreneur Cesare Fazari was announced to be the new CEO and Chairman of the Board. At the time it was announced that e-commerce would become a focus for RYU, which also operated storefronts in the Vancouver, Toronto, New York and Southern California markets. Fazari, a self-made millionaire and notable personality known for his philanthropy, has invested heavily in RYU.

RYU was founded in 2011 as a mixed martial arts brand based in Portland, Oregon. Marcelo Leone was originally an investor and in 2014 he took over the business and incorporated in Vancouver. RYU’s intention at the time was to become the world’s top multi-discipline performance training and fitness brands. 

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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