Kering-owned luxury brand Balenciaga has opened one of its its largest storefronts in North America at 92 Yorkville Avenue in Toronto. It’s also the first location for the brand in North America to feature a new distressed look that was recently unveiled with Balenciaga’s flagship store opening on New Bond Street in London.
The new Toronto store spans about 7,000 square feet over two levels in a prominent retail space once occupied by a Diesel store. The look of the Balenciaga store is “raw and dishevelled” with exposed concrete walls and flooring. Smooth floors in the former Diesel store were sandblasted to create a more industrial look, and even doors in the store’s dressing rooms were intentionally ‘scratched’ to create a distressed look.
The main floor of the store houses bags and accessories at the front with separated sections for women’s footwear and ready-to-wear at the back. An exposed concrete staircase leads to the second floor which houses men’s ready-to-wear as well as bags, accessories and a large footwear area. The south-facing retail space will be flooded with natural light on sunny days.
Being a global flagship store, Balenciaga’s latest designs are featured in the new Toronto store including a range of rare and hard-to-find items.
On Tuesday at noon the store quietly opened to the public. On Saturday July 9, a more formalized opening will take place which will include Champagne service and the store will be giving out red carnations, founder Cristobal Balenciaga’s favourite flower, which is something that Balenciaga did for the opening of its London New Bond Street store in London this spring.
For the time being, Balenciaga is keeping its roughly 2,000 square foot ‘world of’ concession at Holt Renfrew at 50 Bloor Street West, located a stone’s throw from the new Yorkville Avenue Balenciaga flagship. Balenciaga also currently operates a concession at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver housing men’s and women’s ready-to-wear as well as bags and footwear in a single ‘world of’ space.
The Yorkville Avenue flagship is Balenciaga’s second standalone storefront in Canada. The first opened in December of 2019 at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre in an impressive space spanning about 4,700 square feet with just over 3,300 square feet of retail space. The look of the Yorkdale store is very different than the new Yorkville Avenue flagship.
Balenciaga will continue with its Canadian expansion with two standalone stores set to open later this year in Vancouver and Edmonton.
Several other high-end retailers in Canada carry Balenciaga. Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship at CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto currently features an area for bags and accessories and womenswear and men’s collections are also available. Rumours are circulating that Balenciaga could pull out of the store following three other major luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Saint Laurent that exited the store months ago ahead of a store renovation.
Nordstrom’s Vancouver flagship features a Balenciaga accessory boutique on the main floor as well as a dedicated women’s Balenciaga boutique space on the women’s floor. Balenciaga footwear can also be found at Nordstrom’s stores in Toronto and Vancouver.
According to the Q1 2022 Lyst Index (the most recent at press time), Balenciaga was ranked once again as the world’s most popular brand while Gucci was ranked second. Balenciaga is also having an ongoing fashion moment — the brand returned to haute couture after 53 years last year, launched a Fortnite collaboration, and teamed up with Kanye West on the launch of his Donda album. Last year the brand also showcased its fashion collection in cartoon format at Paris Fashion Week via popular television program ‘The Simpsons’.
Yorkville Avenue is shaping up to become a significant luxury address for Toronto and more brands are on the way. Some names will be revealed at later dates and already there’s chatter that brands including Reformation and Zadig & Voltaire have already signed leases on the street.