(Image: Daniel Neuhaus)
A pair of lavish newcomers are challenging Holt Renfrew for luxury department store supremacy. Last summer, Hudson’s Bay Company purchased the high-end American retailer Saks Fifth Avenue in a $3-billion takeover. To showcase its shiny new holdings, HBC will open a 150,000-square-foot Saks store inside the existing Queen Street Bay flagship, specializing in exquisite brands like Gucci, Prada, Givenchy and Céline. Across the street, in the old Sears space where we used to buy cheap tube socks and Tempur-Pedic mattresses, Nordstrom will sell Stella McCartney streetwear, Christopher Kane cocktail dresses and Lanvin gowns in a 213,000-square-foot, three-storey department store scheduled to open in 2016. It’s no surprise that these posh emporia have targeted Toronto: the city’s median household income hovers around $70,000, compared to $57,000 in New York and $53,000 in Chicago. Factor in the downtown density and influx of single, spendthrift professionals in condos, and it’s a vortex of free-flying disposable dollars. Two weeks after news of Saks’ arrival broke, Holt’s announced it would create a lavish men’s-only shop on the Mink Mile, in the space recently vacated by Roots. The new retailers have created a spirit of healthy competition in the city’s luxury landscape, and while Saks, Nordstrom and Holt’s fight their retail wars, we’ll be looting the spoils.