German luxury brand Escada has shut its last Canadian store, exiting the market after decades. At one time Escada had a network of stores across the country, including its Plaza Escada concept, and was poplar among affluent women.
Escada shut its last remaining Canadian store in Montreal earlier this month, located at 1214 Sherbrooke Street West across from the Ritz Hotel. The store operated there since the year 2000 and the brand was formerly housed within the Ogilvy department store.
The Montreal closure follows last month’s shuttering of Escada’s storefront in Toronto at 131 Bloor Street West. Sales staff in the Montreal store weren’t aware that their location would also be closing when asked following the Toronto closure.
Prior to its closure, hours at the Montreal Escada store had been reduced to just a few hours a day. On Monday to Saturday, the store was only open from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and on Sundays the store was open from noon until 4:00pm — just four hours. That information was from Google as the Escada corporate website has been down for weeks with the website saying “COMING SOON”.
We reported last month that the Toronto Escada store on Bloor Street had closed and that rent hadn’t been paid. Prior to the downtown Vancouver Escada store closing last year, signs posted also indicated rents were also outstanding. Escada has struggled in recent times under the corporate umbrella of Beverly Hills California-based Regent LP — Regent acquired Escada from the Mittal family of India in 2019. In January of this year Escada America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing ramifications of the pandemic and failed lease negotiations with some landlords.
Escada once operated a network of stores in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. That included the multi-brand Plaza Escada concept stores from the early 1990s into the mid-2000s — Plaza Escada housed brands including Escada, St. John Knits, Laurel, Crisca, Apriori, Kemper and Cerruti 1881.
In Toronto, Escada once had a presence on Hazelton Avenue into the 1990s prior to relocating to prestigious Bloor Street West. In 2007, the then 13,000 square foot Plaza Escada at 110 Bloor Street West saw a $3 million renovation, justified by high sales at the time. In 2012 Escada relocated to The Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West in a much smaller space, dropping the ‘Plaza’ in the name along with the other brands carried in the former Plaza Escada location across the street.
Vancouver’s history with Escada is particularly unique — it was the first city in the world to get to test out the Plaza Escada store concept when one opened at the Sinclair Centre at 757 W. Hastings Street in 1990. The store spanned in excess of 16,000 square feet over two levels with interiors designed by Yabu Pushelberg including a sweeping staircase and several rooms housing various categories and brands. A tea room at the centre of the store had an upside-down canoe with a marble tabletop displaying various teas — one may have been lucky enough to have been served by the head of Escada Canada, Russ, who would pop into the store to greet guests occasionally.
In 2011 Escada relocated its Vancouver location to a much smaller storefront at 710 Thurlow Street in the city’s new ‘Luxury Zone’ with frontage on prestigious Alberni Street — again doing away with the Plaza Escada branding as well as the other Plaza Escada brands. The Thurlow Street Escada store shut last year and was replaced by a temporary Gucci pop-up store while Gucci’s standalone Fairmont Hotel Vancouver location was updated and expanded.
Edmonton was also an important market for Escada at one time. In the late 1980s into the early 1990s Escada operated a downtown storefront at the prestigious Manulife Place. In 1992 Escada unveiled a much larger Plaza Escada location at a new adjacent downtown mall called City Centre, which was subsequently rebranded as Commerce Place — the plush Plaza Escada store featured beautiful white carpeting which would unfortunately need to be cleaned regularly because of Edmonton’s harsh winters, resulting in the winter closure of a street-facing entrance. In the mid 2000s Escada moved back into the Manulife Place across from Holt Renfrew before Escada exited Edmonton in 2018 — Holts itself shut in January of 2020, also exiting the Edmonton market entirely.
Escada had a concession presence in the Ogilvy department store in Montreal in the 1980s and 1990s prior to opening the standalone location on Sherbrooke Street which recently shuttered. The 1214 Sherbrooke Escada store was branded as ‘Plaza Escada’ from the year 2000 to 2003, and it was smaller in size compared to the other three Canadian Plaza Escada locations at the time. Branding shifted to just Escada in mid-2003.
The Escada brand also had a presence in the late 1970s and into the 1980s in stores such as Eaton’s in Canada. Escada’s price point appeared to be more in the ‘contemporary’ range at the time and was even available in some suburban Eaton’s stores.
At one time, Escada was an iconic brand worn by celebrities and was even a staple on television shows with jackets accented by large shoulder pads. The brand has struggled in recent years as consumers have shifted to other brands.
Escada was founded in Munich Germany in 1978 by Margaretha Ley and husband Wolfgang Ley. The brand is now owned by Beverly Hills California-based Regent LP. Escada’s store count globally is now considerably less than it was a few years ago and earlier this year at least half of the US Escada stores were reportedly slated for closure following bankruptcy protection.
The exit of Escada in Montreal is another blow to Sherbrooke Street West, which over the past several years has seen almost every luxury brand shut down (including a Holt Renfrew store). Tiffany & Co. is the remaining luxury brand operating on the street (within The Ritz Hotel) and given that the brand has a concession very close by at Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, the future of the Sherbrooke Street Tiffany store is uncertain. The closure of Tiffany & Co. would mark the end of an era of decades of luxury retail on Sherbrooke Street as luxury brands cluster within the relatively new 250,000 square foot Holt Renfrew Ogilvy store on Sainte-Catherine Street West.