Toronto’s Yorkville Avenue is seeing a retail transformation that will bring in a high-spending youth demographic, with the addition of several new brands opening stores. The street’s luxury transformation began several years ago with some big-names, creating a clustering that also competes with Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre for consumers.
Yorkville Avenue has been an upscale retail destination for years with various retailers in the area, and in 2016 things began to escalate when French luxury brand Christian Louboutin opened its Canadian flagship store on the street. That was followed by a key tenant, Chanel, which in 2017 opened an impressive two-level flagship store across the street. Since then, Yorkville Avenue has luxury brand store openings that include Brunello Cucinelli, Versace, Stone Island, Isaia and Balenciaga.
Now more youthful brands are establishing a presence on the street. Earlier this month, pricey Los Angeles-based fashion brand John Elliott opened its first international store at 83 Yorkville Avenue. It’s only the sixth location for the popular brand, joining locations in Miami, Los Angeles, New York City (two stores) and Aspen, Colorado.
The Yorkville Avenue John Elliott store features a minimalist and utilitarian aesthetic under the direction of architect Stephan Wiemer. The store spans about 2,400 square feet and is in a retail space once occupied by popular designer brand Off-White and a hair salon that until recently occupied the building’s upper level. John Elliott’s full men’s and women’s collections can be found in the store including leather goods, Japanese denim (priced in the hundreds of dollars), sportswear, fine jewellery (created in collaboration with Japanese brand M.A.R.S.), and footwear made in Italy. Jeff Berkowitz of Aurora Realty Consultants represented John Elliot and CBRE’s Urban Retail Team were involved in representing the lease.
The most exciting tenant in recent memory for Yorkville Avenue has yet to open, and it’s currently under construction. it’s also said to be one of the worst-kept retail secrets in recent memory for those paying attention to future store openings in Toronto. New York City-based Kith will open a storefront at 78 Yorkville Avenue spanning about 10,000 square feet over two levels, and it will include both a fashion component as well as Kith Treats, which is an ice cream concept found in Kith’s stores globally.
Kith still hasn’t formally announced its Toronto store — Retail Insider decided to publish this article after two other publications, Sole Savy (in late June) and BlogTO reported on Kith’s Toronto opening based on some online job postings by Kith on LinkedIn. Kith typically announces its store openings about 60 days prior to an actual opening date, and construction on the Toronto store is ongoing with its opening expected before the Toronto International Film Festival in September (if it even happens this year).
For several months, design-build firm SAJO has been building out the Kith space at 78 Yorkville Avenue in secret with no signage indicating the new tenant for the building. Retail Insider reached out to landlord First Capital REIT which was unable to provide comment for this article, likely due to confidentiality agreements with the tenant. We will therefore follow up on this article with a more comprehensive report on Kith including more information and renderings of the new Kith store.
Kith was founded in New York City in 2011 by Ronnie Fieg, and the brand now has 15 stores globally. That includes nine standalone stores in the United States in New York City, Los Angeles, Aspen, Miami and Honolulu, as well as two shop-in-store concessions in New York City (Bergdorf Goodman) and Long Island (at Hirshleifers). Globally, Kith has stores in Paris and Tokyo, as well as a concession at Selfridges in London.
The cult-favourite Kith is expected to be a big draw for monied youth into Toronto’s Yorkville area, with industry insiders saying that it could be a game-changer for the street with its constantly updated product drops. It will join John Elliott on the street as well as well-established multi brand menswear retailer CNTRBND which has its storefront about a block away at 135 Yorkville Avenue and another closer to the future Kith on Bellair Street. Combined, these retailers are expected to make Yorkville Avenue a draw for younger consumers who might otherwise frequent Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre and even Queen Street West.
Another First Capital property recently saw the addition of a new luxury tenant — French fragrance and candle brand Diptique just unveiled its new store at 101 Yorkville Avenue. The store will occupy the space for a time until the building is demolished for redevelopment, and is the second location for the brand in Canada following a store opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre last year. Jeff Berkowitz of Aurora Realty Consultants represented Diptique in the lease deal.
Closer to Kith and John Elliott, the former Free People space at 79 Yorkville Avenue has been leased long-term to Vancouver-based luxury reseller Mine and Yours. The store is currently under construction and will be opening next month. Mine and Yours is the second luxury reseller on the street, joining Russell Oliver’s retail concept across the street that opened in late 2021.
Mine and Yours is next door to US-based women’s fashion brand Reformation, which in late 2022 opened its tech-heavy Canadian flagship store at 87 Yorkville Avenue.
Other happenings on Yorkville Avenue include the recent openings of US-based Veronica Beard and lab-grown diamond concept retailer VRAI at 111 Yorkville Avenue, both of which were recently reported on in Retail Insider. One long-time high-end retailer, Kimina, will be closing its store across the street after operating for nearly 40 years. Kimina is known particularly for selling Issey Miyake’s pricey Bao Bao bags.
Yorkville Avenue will continue to see changes in the months and years to come as new retailers move into the area. First Capital REIT’s Yorkville Village shopping centre, formerly named Hazelton Lanes, will see the addition of a new Yorkville Avenue entrance near Avenue Road with the opportunity to add several new luxury retailers to the complex.
At the same time, two blocks south, Toronto’s Bloor Street luxury run (formerly the ‘Mink Mile’) is adding several new luxury brand stores this fall including Ferragamo, Rolex, Van Cleef & Arpels, Alexander Wang, Bonpoint, Paris Baguette and Saint Laurent. The clustering of these stores, joining other big names such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Prada and others on the street, will solidify Bloor-Yorkville as an important luxury retail destination for Canada as well as being a draw for tourists. We’ll continue to report on new additions to the area as well as how competition with the Yorkdale Shopping Centre will play out as both maintain their positioning as Toronto’s key luxury retail shopping nodes.