There’s a phrase common to the fashion set, a notion of revisiting your existing wardrobe: “shop your closet”. But Holt Renfrew gives new meaning to the saying with the Apartment, a 1,000-square-foot private shopping suite at its Yorkdale Shopping Centre location in Toronto, pulling out all the stops to make shoppers feel right at home.
Designed by New York–based architectural firm Janson Goldstein, the Apartment lives up to its name with a living room, dressing room, kitchen, and en suite bathroom. The multi-purpose space essentially becomes a customized closet to fulfill the desires of the retailer’s top-tier clientele (access is currently by invite only), who can host lunches there, enjoy trunk shows, meet a visiting designer, relax with a spa treatment, hold a pre-party for an event, or let the kids run around while shopping. In today’s crowded, and competitive, retail environment it’s a smart move for the company. “We have to elevate our game when it comes to the personalized relationship,” says Barbara Wolfson, Holt Renfrew’s divisional vice president, sales and service at the Yorkdale location. “We all have a million opportunities to shop elsewhere, whether online or in a boutique, or hopping over to New York for the weekend.” Past trunk shows held in the space have featured designs from Gucci, Fendi, Donna Karan, Brunello Cucinelli, and Dolce & Gabbana.
The Holt Renfrew team outfits the Apartment with fresh flowers, food, and beverages at each guest’s request, and decorative elements such as a bold lighting fixture by Lindsey Adelman Studio, Usona bar cart, DDC dining table, B&B Italia dining chairs, and a rotating exhibit of artwork. Plush carpets, contemporary furniture, and sparkling shelves create a comfortable environment that offers plenty of space to display merchandise.
After a successful launch earlier this year, the Apartment concept is expanding to the retailer’s Bloor Street store in Toronto, as well as its Vancouver and Calgary locations (all are expected to open before the end of 2017). The residential concept also takes a different form at the recently-opened Holt Renfrew Men on Bloor Street, also designed by Janson Goldstein. Here, the walls are upholstered in suiting fabric and the space includes rotating installations of art and cultural objects as well. “I have to tell you I came from an incredibly competitive market in Florida, and I think competition makes you better,” says Wolfson. “It elevates the leadership, it elevates the way in which we buy, and I think it makes you really drill down to the details to ensure that you are building strong relationships with the client, giving them different experiences, and very exciting experiences to make them come back for more.”