Kering-owned Luxury Jewellery Brand Qeelin to Open 1st North American Store in Toronto

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Kering-owned luxury jewellery brand Qeelin is building its first store location for North America at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The brand launched several years ago at Holt Renfrew and strong sales have prompted Qeelin to open its first standalone store. 

Qeelin will be located next to Hublot on the mall’s centre run near several other luxury brands. Qeelin’s Yorkdale store will be similar in size to Hublot, spanning just over 700 square feet in a retail space formerly occupied by coffee retailer Second Cup. 

Many people may have not yet heard of the brand which primarily targets Chinese consumers. Qeelin’s products refer to mystical or superstitious symbols strongly embedded in the Chinese culture. The name Qeelin is said to come from the Qilin, an auspicious Chinese mythical animal and icon of love.

Image: Qeelin
Image: Qeelin

Qeelin was founded in 2004 by Dennis Chan (who is currently the Creative Director) and Guillaume Brochard. Chan got the idea to create the luxury brand strongly embedded in the Chinese culture while visiting the Dunhuang Caves along the Silk Road in 1997. Seven years later in Paris, Chan co-founded the brand with Brochard. Qeelin’s first collection, the Wulu, became a commercial hit after actress Maggie Cheung wore it at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

The company is currently headquartered in Hong-Kong and in 2013, French luxury group Kering acquired a majority stake in Qeelin which provided resources for a store expansion — Qeelin already had a store in Paris at the time and seven more opened shortly after Kering’s acquision. The acquisition also helped expand Qeelin’s line to include a high jewellery collection. 

Qeelin’s Wulu collection revisited the legendary Chinese gourd, an auspicious emblem in Chinese tradition. The brand’s creations that followed used the symbols of the panda (Bo Bo), bells (Ling Long), kissing goldfish (Qin Qin), and dogs (Wang Wang).

Photo: screen shot from the Holt Renfrew website
Photo: screen shot from the Holt Renfrew website

In 2015, Qeelin entered the North American market in a handful of stores, including Holt Renfrew in Canada where it continues to maintain a presence. All six of Holt Renfrew’s full-line stores carry Qeelin though the Vancouver store appears to have the lion’s share of pricier items of over $10,000, according to Holt Renfrew’s website. If Qeelin were to look to open a second standalone store in Canada, Vancouver would be a likely target given current sales at Holt Renfrew as well as the city’s affluent Chinese population which may already be aware of the brand. 

Globally, Qeelin has 45 stores in China and only five stores in other markets. Stores outside of China include two locations in Paris (26 Place Vendome and a concession at Galeries Lafayette), one in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia at KL City Centre, one in Singapore at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, and one in Sydney Australia at Westfield Sydney in the city’s downtown core. Yorkdale will be only the sixth standalone store for Qeelin outside of China. 

Qeelin is a huge score for Yorkdale, which has the densest clustering of luxury brands in Canada. The mall continues to add new luxury stores and affluent consumers continue to flock to Yorkdale for its brands that are in some cases not available elsewhere in Toronto or even Canada. 

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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