How Toronto Shopping Destination WDLT117 Navigated COVID-19

Dion Lee Spring 2021 Photo courtesy of EmaxTree

Yorkville’s “Best Kept Secret” offers surprising design names and, now, home decor.

When the managing director of Yorkville’s WDLT177 boutique, Jason Morikawa, opened its doors in the summer of 2019, the space – curated, cool and full of names not commonly seen in the Canadian shopping scene – a must-visit for fashion lovers Was headed towards becoming. Discovering the lines along which they usually interacted only digitally. Or in some cases, they did not know they needed to know.

Kolor, Awake Mode, Y / Project, both and Bode were just a few of the labels that could be found in an eclectic array housed in a lavish two-tier shop. “Our store is about the experience,” Morikawa says. “People can come in and see new brands they haven’t seen before, or were able to touch before. So many emerging brands are focused online, so we wanted to give them a home in Toronto.

A year after presenting a unique blend of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories IRL, COVID-19 hits, and Morikawa suddenly had to make a major pivot; And not just in terms of purchasing appointments via video calls – a major challenge for retailers who previously relied on in-person appointments to really get a sense of weight, fabric experience, and movement of items that They were bringing it to their shops.

“There is only so much you can see on Zoom,” Morikawa laughs, adding that the WDLT117 story also “needs to be translated online.” So there was a big push to take its philosophy to the digital world; But at the same time, to bring everything back home, in a sense, as well.

In addition to enhancing the store’s e-com experience, Morikawa – who has an extensive background in the Toronto luxury retail landscape who worked for Holt Renfrew and Saks Fifth Avenue before launching the effort – has expanded into the home goods realm Expanded its space. Now you will see bizarre lines like Qeeboo and Ligne Blanche in WDLT117 offerings. (Felted planters of the Swedish brand Aveva have been of particular interest, because, well, plants.)

What has been most important to Morikawa is that there is no connection between fashion and household goods; Each piece describes the special moments for which they have tried to give access to their customers all the time. “They are looking for a more diverse range of lesser-known brands,” he says. And he is particularly proud of WDLT117’s emphasis in supporting Asian designers located around the world. “We’ve seen solid sales performance there,” he says of the appeal of the unisex-focused label Fang Chen Wang, hat maker Kijima Takayuki, and Shushu / Tong’s playful merchandise.

Paris-based, perpetually-minded designer Marine Sere has also been a strong favorite for customers – surprisingly among consumers, becoming more aware of their purchases, especially during the past year. And a growing interest in genderless clothing has made Australian designer Dion Lee a hit.

These names take into account the fashion-forward yet casual look on the side, and this vibe definitely keeps WDLT117 on during COVID-19. However, Morikawa hopes that once the lockdown is relaxed and going out again is one thing, people “want to have some fun, and overcome the COVID nightmare.” I see it as the end of depression; Aishwarya returned and people started wearing clothes again. ” Hope here.

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