Smythe will open the first physical store in Toronto in March – WWD
Canadian ready-to-wear brand Smythe will open its first physical store in Toronto’s Summerhill neighborhood.
The 1,250 square foot boutique will open March 8 at 1116 Yonge Street.
Co-founded by Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe in 2004, the brand built its reputation on women’s tailored blazers and has since expanded into jackets, coats, dresses, blouses, trousers and knitwear. Smythe sells stores such as Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom, Revolve, FWRD, Intermix and Shopbop, in addition to stores in the UK, Australia, Germany and New Zealand. The company also has its own e-commerce site.
When asked why they want to open a physical store now, Lenczner replied, “You mean during a pandemic with online commerce at an all-time high? Smythe’s retail opening has been a long time coming.
“Not only does this give us the opportunity to express our design and brand as we envision it, but it also allows us to engage directly with our customers. This gives Smythe the legitimacy to have a place to go see the whole collection, touch it and try it on. In a crowded market, you have to be everywhere and cater to everyone’s shopping needs and preferences,” she said.
The co-founders, who met when they were undergraduates at McGill University, said they would also like to open stores in the United States. combining e-commerce and wholesale, the business is evenly split between the United States and Canada. They believe the Toronto store will give them the opportunity to gain retail experience and refine the concept before rolling it out. Earlier in their career, Smythe worked in design at The Gap and Lenczner was a buyer for Holt Renfrew.
Discussing the performance of their online business, Lenczner said: “Like many brands, we have enjoyed a significant increase in e-commerce since the lockdowns began. Initially, our product line was not necessarily what customers were looking for, but as freedom dawned on the horizon, many customers, who may have been hesitant to risk a large Smythe purchase online, have taken the leap. If you had a good experience online, there is no going back.
Christie Smythe explained that in fall 2020, the brand launched Smythehouse, a collection of archetypal Smythe silhouettes reimagined in seasonless fabrics and colors. They are currently sold exclusively through Smythe’s website.
In-store retail prices will range from $175 to $1,695.
They also see the physical experience as a way to test merchandise and get feedback.
“This intimate neighborhood location can serve as a testing ground with our community Smythe customers for new product expansions; collaborations and experiences that go hand-in-hand with our brand vision,” said Lenczner. The store will also highlight special collaborations, like the most recent co-creation with Wear Cisco, a line of “reimagined basics” founded by Smythe’s first model and muse, Lisa Priolo.
The store will also feature Smythe’s first fragrance, created using globally sourced ingredients in partnership with fragrance brand Fueguia 1833.
As to why they chose the Summerhill area, Lenczner said, “We both love neighborhood shopping. It’s more laid back and less intimidating. Even when we travel, it’s fun to know where the locals go. We chose Toronto because, like our manufacturing, our first store was always going to be close to home. We like to keep a watchful eye. We observe, learn, and then we improve.
The store’s aesthetic was developed in conjunction with interior designers Ashley Botten of Ashley Botten Designs and Tommy Smythe of TOM (who is Christie’s brother).
“We were aware that Smythe is a globally significant Canadian brand when designing the space. With Tommy’s Canadian roots and my own collective international experiences, we focused on layering textures and balancing materiality. The store design feels familiar but also like you’ve been out of town for a while,” Botten said.
FOR MORE STORIES:
Smythe launches a collection called Smythe House
Mackage: rush towards 2022
Moose Knuckles opens branches in Boston and Chicago