Maska, a luxury women’s ready to wear fashion store, opened another location at the First Canadian Place in the Toronto Financial District two months ago.
This will be the second time Maska has been located at the First Canadian Place, but the first time it has had a permanent location there. Maska has been in Canada for twenty years as it opened its first location in Quebec.
“When we started at First Canadian Place, I just thought it was a great location. There was so much traffic, and it was easy to build a clientele since it was the same people working there every day. We just love First Canadian Place and love the energy, so we decided to make it permanent. Of course, Covid put a delay on everything and has maybe changed the dynamic a little bit because people are not working in the office as much, but we just love being here and are excited about the new store as it represents the brand,” says Rebecca Cohen, Human Resources at Maska.
The new location will offer a newly renovated 1,450 square foot space and will provide the same products which are imported weekly from Italy. The space will offer an updated fitting room, maintain a fresh look, and “the materials and colour palette were carefully selected to create a soft and elegant shop environment. Few things say Italian better than simple terrazzo floor tile, which is the only floor finish found throughout the entire shop,” says Robert Ruscio, the President of Ruscio Studio.
Everything Made in Italy
Cohen said before Covid, she would go to Italy every two weeks to find products for the boutique. Maska offers unique products that are only from Italy. Customers can find women’s clothing and accessories.
“Maska offers women’s ready-to-wear fashion garments and accessories imported directly from Italy. Their collections are inspired by the latest European runway trends and are always unique and stylish for today’s professional, on-the-go woman,” says Ruscio.
“Perhaps less prominent yet essential to complete an outfit are the accessories. Footwear, purses, belts, and jewelry are displayed in three specific areas. The storefront welcomes shoppers with tiered pedestals featuring the latest accessories; the fitting room area includes a lit niche wall specifically designed for this purpose and the cash desk integrates a display drawer that showcases belts and costume jewelry,” says Ruscio.
The items you see in store do not last long and Cohen recommends customers to buy when they see it as once an item is sold out – it tends to be sold out and won’t be seen again. Maska receives new inventory from Italy every week and is high quality at a reasonable price point.
“Before Covid, we were traveling every two weeks to Italy, and we were buying on the spot. Certain collections are pre ordered, but other times you are buying as you see it. So, it is a very
fast paced environment and ever since Covid, we have been doing it more remotely, but it is still the exact same concept,” says Cohen.
Maska currently has 16 locations in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. The brand also has an ecommerce business which gains attention internationally and throughout the US. Aurora Realty Consultants is acting on behalf of Maska for its expansion, with Jeff Berkowitz acting on behalf of the retailer in the First Canadian Place deal.
“We have been working with Maska to help with their real estate for around 15 years. They are quite unique – they are fashion forward, it is colourful, and so we are actively looking for markets where people are looking for this type of fashion,” shared Jeff Berkowitz, President of Aurora Realty Consultants.
“The reason why they decided to try something at First Canadian Place is they feel the women that are working in these professional office environments who want to be modern, well dressed and they want to be confident – and there is a large group of that demographic in a place like First Canadian Place.”
The boutique is an important element for Maska as Cohen said the company wants to keep the boutique feel alive and doesn’t have plans on changing anything. As stores continue to expand into larger formats and more people are shopping online, Cohen said it is still important to shop in-store and experience the boutique.
“We are always open to expansion, and for the time being we are focusing on making everything perfect in Canada and making sure everything is running as it should. But we are looking to make the expansion into the US as we have a lot of customers over there. There are also definitely things in the works for Ontario and I am unable to speak about them now – but there is more coming,” says Cohen.
“It is important for people to see that the boutique experience is still here, it is rare to find it but it is definitely something we are looking to keep. As fun as online shopping is, there is something different about being able to go into a store and have someone help you. It is an experience I think that is worth keeping around,” says Cohen.