It’s a story of fast fashion becoming much slower fashion — Fabricland has officially opened just off the corner of Bloor and Yonge Streets in Toronto in a retail space formerly occupied by an H&M store. Fabricland will remain in its bright new location for several years until its building and an adjacent building are demolished for a major redevelopment.
The Fabricland store spans three levels of the former H&M space at 13-15 Bloor Street West, measuring about 15,000 square feet with a full range of items focused on sewing, quilting, knitting and crafting among other activities.
The street level of the new store houses fabrics focused on ‘fashion’, while the upper level includes items that can be used to make home decor. The basement of the former H&M store houses items that can be used for crafts and notions.
The store is considered to be one of the flagships for the Fabricland chain, and is testing out some new concepts such as signage that will eventually be rolled out into other Fabricland locations. Fabricland is the largest fashion fabric distributor in Canada with over 130 stores across the country.
The store aims to attract consumers such as students in nearby post-secondary institutions studying in programs where textiles may be utilized. The retailer noted that even drag queens in the nearby Gay Village may shop the store for a range of fabrics that can be used in designs — a display of rainbow fabrics and Pride-related accessories is also on display. Some ornate fabrics in the store could be used for flowing gowns or other designs.
Toronto’s diversity means that some patterns and ornaments, appropriate for ethnic garments, are on offer as well. On the opening day, the store was busy with shoppers who began to line up almost an hour before the store opened.
Fabricland is waiting for a permit from the City of Toronto to install a protective covering over the glass of the upper level of the store in order to protect merchandise from sunlight. The upper level includes a display near the windows for outdoor designs and more will come, including a display with beach umbrellas. A Fabricland representative said that it took several weeks to convert the new store from the former H&M store that occupied the space for nearly 20 years.
One of the reasons Fabricland opened on Bloor Street is its corporate ownership — the wealthy Kimel family that owns the retailer also owns the building. A proposal is in place for a massive residential tower on the site as well an adjacent building currently occupied by a bank.
The new Fabricland is steps away from an intersection that by next year will be home to a flagship Lululemon store as well as, tentatively, an Apple flagship store. A new tenant or tenants will eventually be secured for the former Nordstrom Rack space at 1 Bloor Street East, and we recently reported that The Ballroom bowling concept will replace a former McEwan grocery store in the basement of the same 1 Bloor East complex. Across the street from Fabricland is the Holt Renfrew Centre, which is home to Holt Renfrew’s main flagship store as well as a large Aritzia store and a soon-to-be-announced tenant that will occupy the main floor of the centre’s former Zara space.
Further up the street is the Bloor Street luxury run, which is seeing a remarkable number of new luxury stores being added. Over the next few months, stores opening on Bloor Street between Bay Street and Avenue Road will include the likes of Van Cleef & Arpels, Rolex, Ferragamo, Saint Laurent, Alexander Wang, Bonpoint and others. They will join names such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Gucci, Hermes, Dior and others that have opened on the street over the years.
Fabricland had a store nearby on Bloor Street East at the former Hudson’s Bay Centre until about 12 years ago — Dollarama now occupies the basement space. Fabricland also had a presence within the former Honest Ed’s store that operated at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets until late 2016.
The Fabricland chain was founded in 1968 as Fabricland Distributors, and its first store was at Queen and Roncesvalles in Toronto. The retailer carries a large selection of fabrics as well as sewing notions and accessories, patterns, broadcloth, flannelette, suitings, utility and cleaning cloths, arctic fleece, cottons and blends, home goods such as curtains, as well as bridal and party wear and coordinated fashion collections.