Japanese athletic fashion and footwear brand ASICS has shut its only full-priced Canadian storefront in Toronto. The brand continues to operate a network of outlet stores in this country.
ASICS opened its Canadian flagship store in a space spanning 4,400 square feet in March of 2018 at 364 Queen Street West. The two-level store featured a range of footwear and fashions. The retail space was occupied by retailer Guess before ASICS leased the space which is neighboured by a MAC cosmetics store on one side and a Nobis flagship store on the other.
A CIBC bank is now under construction to replace ASICS. CIBC is relocating from a nearby corner retail space at Queen and Spadina streets for subway construction. A new subway station at the corner will be part of the Ontario Line.
Richard Sullivan, who in 2018 was head of ASIC Canada and is now CEO of North America, said when the store opened, “The flagship store represents the new direction of the brand, offering consumers a brand experience aimed at celebrating movement, while offering them the best of our products across both performance and lifestyle, better catering to their needs.”
ASICS was expected to open full-priced standalone stores in major Canadian markets following the opening of the Queen Street flagship in Toronto. ASICS was also in expansion mode in the United States at the time. A flagship store opened in New York City at 579 5th Avenue in December of 2017, and the store closed in early 2021. The company was struggling financially after losses related to the pandemic and its lockdowns.
“Amid the uncertainties regarding when the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will end, the company will further improve the profitability of the North American business by closing this store, considering the business risk of continuing to operate the store and other factors,” ASICS said at the time of closing.
The brand continues to operate seven outlet stores in Canada. Four are in Ontario including at the Toronto Premium Outlets in Halton Hills, Vaughan Mills, Outlet Collection at Niagara, and Tanger Outlets Ottawa. There are also outlet stores at the McArthurGlen Outlets near Vancouver, CrossIron Mills near Calgary and at the Outlet Collection Winnipeg. The brand is also available wholesale in some multi-brand retailers.
ASICS was founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949 in Kobe. The brand rose to international prominence over the decades for its unique and innovative designs. A vintage range of ASICS shoes are produced and sold under the Onitsuka Tiger label.