Richemont-owned French jewellery brand Van Cleef & Arpels will open a standalone storefront on Toronto’s Bloor Street West next year. It will replace a former Zegna location that once operated at 100 Bloor Street West next to Hermes.
Van Cleef & Arpels will span somewhere in the 2,000 square foot range depending how the space is designed — the Zegna store had a mezzanine as part of its lease though the public only accessed the main level. Construction on Van Cleef & Arpels has yet to begin, and recently a ‘leased’ sign went up on the space advertised by brokerage JLL.
Zegna operated at 100 Bloor for about three years and was partly owned by Harry Rosen which has a multi-brand store a short distance away. The standalone Bloor Street Zegna included many pieces from the brand’s top-tier line which were pricey and failed to resonate with consumers.
The Bloor Street store will be Van Cleef & Arpels’ third standalone location in Canada. The first opened at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre in the summer of 2017 spanning about 1,600 square feet. A second standalone store opened in Vancouver in late 2017 at 1069 Alberni Street spanning more than 4,000 square feet, the largest on the continent for the brand.
What’s interesting is Van Cleef & Arpels already has a ‘door’ on Toronto’s Bloor Street — The Birks jewellery store at Manulife Centre has a separated Van Cleef & Arpels boutique with entrances from within Birks as well as from Bloor Street itself. The distance between Birks’ boutique and the leased standalone Van Cleef & Arpels at 100 Bloor is about 145 metres or 475 feet — so it’s unlikely that the Birks Van Cleef & Arpels boutique will continue to operate where it is once the standalone corporate store opens nearby.
It’s a major blow to the Birks store to lose its top brand, though it also presents the opportunity to open a new boutique presence for another jewellery brand at Birks on Bloor Street in Toronto. Birks operates boutiques with doors onto the street in Vancouver including Graff Diamonds and Patek Philippe (pricey watches) and one of these could replace the Toronto Birks Van Cleef space.
This isn’t the first time that Van Cleef & Arpels has opened a standalone store after Birks opened a shop-in-store space for the brand. In Vancouver in 2017, Van Cleef & Arpels made the decision to open a standalone store at 1069 Alberni Street, following Birks opening a partner Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in early 2016. It was said that Birks wasn’t even aware that Van Cleef & Arpels was planning to open a standalone boutique in the city at the time.
In Montreal, a Van Cleef & Arpels shop-in-store operates within the beautifully renovated downtown Birks store. Given that luxury brands don’t perform as well in Montreal as in Vancouver and Toronto, a standalone storefront in Montreal is less likely unless Carbonleo secures it for the new luxury wing at the under-construction Royalmount project.
It’s unknown if Van Cleef & Arpels will open more standalone stores in Canada. If it does, it would likely be in one of the three future luxury nodes that are attempting to form — that includes Oakridge Centre in Vancouver, The Amazing Brentwood in Burnaby and possibly Royalmount in suburban Montreal.
Parent company Richemont has been busy opening and renovating stores in Canada. The brand’s three Cartier boutiques will all have been updated soon — a Vancouver location recently relocated following the full renovation of a downtown Toronto flagship. Cartier’s Yorkdale storefront in Toronto is also currently under renovation which will include annexing part of an adjacent space once occupied by Mulberry.
Richemont also operates standalone boutiques in Canada for its jewellery brands including Piaget, IWC, Panerai, Vacheron Constantin, Montblanc and Jaeger LeCoultre. These are all in the Toronto and Vancouver markets though Piaget has yet to open a store in Vancouver. Chloé, known for its women’s ready-to-wear and bags, operates a flagship at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Richemont also owns pricey Belgian luxury brand Delvaux which has concessions at the Nordstrom stores in downtown Vancouver and at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
Toronto’s Bloor Street luxury run, formerly known as the ‘Mink Mile’, is seeing leasing activity that includes a mix of luxury brands and big-name retailers. We’ll continue to report on what’s happening in the area as we’re aware of several interesting new retailers that will be opening into 2023 on Bloor Street as well as nearby on Yorkville Avenue.