TORONTO – If Marcello Mastroianni were alive today he’d make a great poster boy for Eleventy, Italy’s youthful luxury fashion brand. Yet the same could be said of “Game of Thrones” 30-year-old star Kit Harington, or timeless actresses like Jane Fonda or Dame Helen Mirren — and for one simple reason: “Looking old is not in Eleventy’s DNA.”
With that smiling assertion, Eleventy’s cofounder Marco Baldassari, 48, tours the softly hued interior of the company’s first North American flagship, surveying every last detail being put into place before its opening in Yorkville Village here.
“I wanted this space to feel like a house that is welcoming and kind. That is also in our DNA,” said Baldassari, who reflects Eleventy’s ideal with his finely tailored blazer, V-neck T-shirt and muted khaki pants from the company’s most recent collection.
“Try this,” he said, grabbing a perfume bottle from a nearby counter and pumping it into the air.
“This creates that special ambiance I love,” Baldassari grinned as he inhaled the rich aroma and returned his attentions to the artfully displayed men’s jackets and short silhouetted coats done in dove-soft grays and blacks, the women’s coats in cherry red – Eleventy’s color of the season – and the burnished brass shelves topped with gloves, scarves, fur-trimmed ankle-boots and other accessories.
Ever since he and cofounder Paolo Zuntini launched Eleventy in 2007, the company has given 35- to 45-year-old professionals a quality and style that is on par with the world’s top luxury brands, but at prices that are a third to half of what consumers would normally pay.
Eleventy’s Italian-made fashions, footwear and accessories are also produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable. That, too, has lured consumers to the label, which currently operates 19 single-brand boutiques worldwide, including its new Toronto flagship.
“Marco first focused on neutrals as the basis of the collection’s color palette. These colors in their natural state require far less dyeing processes to reach their final results. This significantly reduces the amount of water used, as well as fewer washes,” said Eleventy’s North American president Geoff Schneiderman. “Marco also encourages factories to work with bio-friendly dyes and chemical-free processing.”
As a result, Eleventy has experienced 30 percent growth year over year, a trend Schneiderman projects will continue through 2018 based on recent meetings with wholesale partners.
Indeed, for Baldassari, Toronto’s launch represents an optimistic step toward the future and turning his small- to mid-sized company into a global power.
According to Schneiderman, Toronto’s flagship was the result of Eleventy’s successful performance at TNT Men’s stores. “When TNT realized the opportunity based on success of sales, they approached Earl Rotman, the chairman of Eleventy USA, and I with the opportunity of creating a complete world of Eleventy,” Schneiderman said.
Now operated in partnership with TNT, Schneiderman said this format could potentially roll out with other successful wholesale partners in North America.
Though no other flagships have been revealed, Vancouver and Montreal are on the company’s radar. But as Baldassari said, “If any city will be home to our next flagship it will be New York. All the world comes to New York.”