TORONTO — After launching his West Hollywood atelier and retail store in L.A. last year, Jonathan Simkhai is making a strategic move north, bringing his first Canadian pop-up shop to life in Toronto on June 13.
“The move from New York to Toronto was a natural extension for us,” Simkhai told WWD, choosing the upscale Yorkville store TNT as the backdrop for the two-week showcasing of select pieces from his pre-fall 2019 collection.
The goal, according to the designer, is to lay the groundwork for other strategic pop-ups to soon follow in key Canadian cities like Vancouver and Montreal.
“Direct-to-consumer is strong for us and we’ve had an increase in the number of boxes we now ship to Canada. But what is really exciting for us is to have a voice in Canada and create a unique conversation with today’s consumers,” said Simkhai.
Indeed, simple, streamlined sexiness, customized fabrics and modern romantic detailing have all been part of Simkhai’s conversation with women since he ventured into the business in New York in 2010 and fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a designer.
Now that messaging is front and center in this Toronto rollout, which boasts a selection of his body-conscious dresses, one-piece jumpsuits, silk wrap tops, lace-up jeans, and tailored pants and jackets.
“Every woman has a different level of femininity and pushes it in different ways. That’s always intrigued me,” said Simkhai.
“But I think what really makes us stand out from other brands right now is that juxtaposition and dichotomy between what’s masculine and feminine,” said 2015’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner.
Simkhai’s daring hand with lace is also another distinguishing trait for his brand.
“My grandfather had a lace mill in the Seventies. It was definitely an inspiration for me and I’m finding many different ways to use it in our silhouettes. But what we are doing with lace in today’s industry is quite exciting,” he said.
Such risk-taking should play well with Canada’s informed luxury shopper, as the designer predicts.
“Canadian consumers are smart,” said Simkhai. “They want that kind of risky versatility that we can offer them. But I believe that consumers in general are just so much smarter today about the way they shop and express themselves through fashion.”