The recent shuttering of American Apparel stores has left retail vacancies in some prime real estate across the country, including a spot at Queen and Spadina in downtown Toronto's one-time garment district. From Feb. 24-26, the two-storey space at 499 Queen St. W. will temporarily transform into Canadian Apparel, a pop-up shop devoted to made-in-Canada clothing.
"Honestly, when we heard that American Apparel was shutting down, the whole idea jumped out at us really quick," says Jonathan Shimoni, creative director of Onemeth Goods and Faded Lifestyle, the two brands that are leading the event. "There's a part of it that is making a statement, but mostly, the core idea is just to celebrate the small collection of brands brave enough to actually create products right here in Canada. The fact that it's Canada's 150th birthday, that's reason enough."
The pop-up will feature women's wear, men's wear and children's wear from 10 brands. Participating labels include Outclass, Muttonhead, Get Fresh Co., The Feral and Sid Neigum. Shimoni says the goal is to make a splash while celebrating and promoting homegrown labels and providing designers with a unique retail platform. "As a Canadian designer myself, I know all the hurdles and pitfalls when trying to produce in Canada," he says. "Looking past the production challenges, it can be difficult for local brands to get any retail space, never mind in one of the focal points of Canadian style and fashion."
For Toronto-based men's-wear designer Andrew Coimbra, the appeal of Canadian Apparel is the opportunity to connect with shoppers in his home base, something he says is increasingly rare. "As the label continues to grow internationally, I realize that, locally, the opportunities for homegrown brands to be on the tips of tongues in Toronto and Canada are few and far between," he says. "This translates to companies floundering, or simply pouring their energy abroad. I want to be a brand that Canadians know."
THIS WEEK'S STYLE HAPPENINGS
- The third edition of Toronto’s Winter Station Design Competition is now on display in The Beaches. Running until Mar. 27, the initiative transforms eight lifeguard stands into sculptural, interactive spaces. This year’s theme, Catalyst, invites visitors to challenge their perceptions of important social and environmental issues. For more information, visit www.winterstations.com.
- Swedish clothing, beauty and home retailer H&M has announced its first store in Saskatchewan, opening in 2018 at the Cornwall Centre in Regina. Since arriving in 2004, H&M has opened 83 stores across Canada. For more information, visit www.hm.ca.
- Montreal department store Simons will open its first Calgary location on Mar. 16. Sitting at 95,000 square feet in the historic Lancaster Building, this will be the company’s 14th store in Canada and the second in Alberta. For more information, visit www.simons.ca.