SAXX Underwear Launches 1st Immersive Shop-in-Store at Hudson’s Bay Flagship in Toronto [Interview/Photos]

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Men’s underwear brand SAXX has launched its first immersive in store experience in the Hudson’s Bay flagship location in downtown Toronto on Queen Street.

The concept has started in a 400-square-foot space in the high-profile retailer’s space, showcasing its innovative underwear from everyday to athletic performance and expanded apparel collections.  

Wendy Bennison

“As a Canadian based company, working with Hudson’s Bay, Canada’s iconic oldest company and a retailer known as a destination for style and quality, we could not have found a more appropriate place for SAXX’s first shop-in-shop location,” said Wendy Bennison, SAXX CEO, in a statement. 

“At SAXX we are obsessed with ensuring men are comfortable throughout their day, this space will allow us to showcase the support of our propriety BallPark Pouch™, the cooling benefits of our DropTemp™ Cooling technology, as well as some of our newer collections such as swim, athletic apparel, sleep and socks.” 

SAXX at Hudson’s Bay Queen Street (Image: SAXX)

Adam Craig, Vice President of Sales for SAXX, said The Bay approached SAXX in January 2020 about the opportunity of putting a fully immersive SAXX store into the flagship store on Queen Street but the pandemic put those plans on hold.

“This has been a vision and something we’ve been imagining how we would bring it to life for a number of years,” he said.

The company, which is based in Vancouver, was founded in 2006. The company began its business through wholesale with its primary source of distribution out of the gate, working with retailers as well as distributors. Then the direct to consumer side of the business came about.

“If you think back, in 2015 our direct to consumer business was right around 15 per cent of our business. Over 85 per cent business was done through wholesale,” said Craig. “Wholesale is still a big part of our business so you’re going to find us both on the direct to consumer side of the business which is an important part where we work direct with the consumer but also our primary channels of distribution are going to be sporting goods, outdoor retailers, department stores, better men’s and contemporary stores, as well as we sell in some lingerie stores,” said Craig.

SAXX at Hudson’s Bay Queen Street (Image: SAXX)

At the wholesale level, the brand is sold through SportChek, Mark’s, The Bay, MEC, Harry Rosen, as well as some of the larger better known stores in the US.

“One of the unique things of our business is the balance between our bigger box retailers and our specialty business. Roughly half of our business is done through our independent specialty accounts. So it’s a lot of the mom and pops that really do a beautiful job of curating intelligent product stories.”

With consumers now returning to the stores following the pandemic, it was a natural progression for the retailer to open a physical presence.

SAXX at Hudson’s Bay Queen Street (Image: SAXX)

Craig said the company does envision more of these locations opening in the future.

“We have a strong desire to launch one in the United States before this holiday 2023. That is something that is on our radar to be able to execute but I think in general as consumers are moving back into physical retail environments and foot traffic was up across almost all channels of retail last year from all reports we’re seeing, we really want to make sure we’re doing a better job elevating our brand’s messaging and the storytelling,” he said. 

“So at SAXX we’re looking at not only trying to do more versions with what we did with The Bay but in total elevate our physical presence at retail.”

Craig said the company has thought about establishing its own branded stores but right now it believes the best opportunity is leveraging the expertise of its wholesale partners who do that really well today. 

“That’s where we see scale being in replicating what we did with The Bay with other retailers that know how to be great retailers in a physical environment versus teaching ourselves that skill right now. It’s something on a longer term road map, though,” he said.

SAXX at Hudson’s Bay Queen Street (Image: SAXX)

The retailer said key features of the concept area include:   

  • A deconstructed pair of SAXX underwear, that helps shoppers visually experience the BallPark Pouch™ technology; 
  • An educational zone to inform shoppers about the benefit of DropTemp™ – SAXX’s newest cooling technology in their self-care routine; and  
  • Humorous moments that nod to the brand’s focus on keeping gentlemen comfortable,  including a mirror that reminds shoppers to “Keep your eye on the ball” and a ball-shaped seat with the text “Gentleman’s chair.” 

Craig said The Bay location is the first retail environment where customers can see the depth and breadth of all of the product categories that SAXX has to offer.

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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