After 34 years in Toronto, and more than 20 on King Street West, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) will now be outfitting the city’s outdoorsy types from a new home on Queen Street West. Beyond an additional 25 per cent more retail space, the new store is upping the shopping experience with some bold new features and community events. Founded in 1971 by a group of West Coasters, MEC started out as a way to make climbing gear available in Canada. Today, it has more than 20 stores and 5 million members, 490,000 of which live in the Toronto area, and stocks equipment to handle all types of outdoor activities. “One of the top activity vectors for us in the GTA is the running-fitness realm, as well as urban biking,” says George Bevan, director of store development at MEC, highlighting that the new location has double the capacity for bicycle repairs.
To further engage its already strong community, the store includes features such as a projector for movie screenings (MEC has its own documentary series) and hosts activities to inform shoppers about places for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. “We’re trying to bring a lot of the stuff that we’re doing outside of the store into the store experience,” Bevan says. On the second level, augmented reality technology allows members to visualize themselves inside different tents and climbing equipment can be tested on a 1,000-square-foot bouldering wall with a clear view south to the Rogers Centre. The Basecamp area is an open-concept community space dedicated to hosting free clinics, such as guidance for new campers on what to pack. According to Bevan, “It’s very reassuring to have someone tell you, ‘This is your list of stuff that you need.’”
Mountain Equipment Co-op, 300 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-340-2667, mec.ca.
On April 15, Tiffany & Co. launches a new flora-and-fauna filled collection. The Return to Tiffany Love Bugs are reinterpretations of the original Return to Tiffany pieces with colourful elements inspired by an urban garden. With nature providing a consistent motif in the New York jeweller’s designs, chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff has incorporated butterflies, blossoms, birds and ladybugs into pieces such as stickpins, broaches, pendants and rings. Materials used include stones such as amethyst, blue topaz and citrine and a mix of metals including gold (yellow, rose and white) and sterling silver. For more information, visit tiffany.ca.
With a new exhibition, the Art Gallery of Hamilton is honouring the influence of a Canadian luxury fashion retailer. Milli: A Celebration of Style is the first comprehensive retrospective of the retailer Milli Gould, who has operated her namesake Hamilton boutique since 1964. It’s also the first time that pieces from the gallery’s permanent collection will be shown alongside articles of clothing. On from April 13 through Feb. 9, 2020, the exhibition was curated by Globe and Mail social columnist Nolan Bryant and showcases nearly 50 ensembles and artifacts from the Milli archives alongside 25 artworks. For more information, visit artgalleryofhamilton.com.
Canadian mattress brand Endy is opening its first showroom space this month. Called the Endy Lodge, it is located in downtown Toronto at Stackt Marketplace (28 Bathurst St.), a market complete with bars, restaurants and shops set up in shipping containers near Fort York and Bathurst. The Canadiana-inspired lodge allows shoppers to experience the brand’s made-in-Canada lineup, which includes mattresses, pillows, sheets, duvets and more, while learning about their role in sleep and wellness. The Endy Lodge will be open until November. For more information, visit endy.com.
Two high-profile collaborations are hitting stores. Pharrell Williams has partnered with Chanel on a new ready-to-wear and accessories capsule collection for the spring 2019 season. Chanel – Pharrell made its debut March 29th in Seoul in tandem with the opening of the city’s new Chanel flagship and is now available in select Chanel locations. And American fashion designer Alexander Wang launched his second collection at Uniqlo on April 11. The 11 women’s and four men’s items, including t-shirts and undergarments, are made using Uniqlo’s AIRism technology, which creates sheer fabrics to keep the wearer cool during summer months.