We’ve seen many a high-end fashion brand shutter stores and depart the Canadian market over the past year. Retail is a tricky business nowadays, with the growth in online retailing taking a sledgehammer to bricks-and- mortar locations, independent brands asserting their relevance against long-time players, and all-round decline in consumer brand loyalty making it ever more difficult to combat customer attrition.
But through all the haze surrounding the industry – especially here in the great big north – there are a few brands that have not only combated the changing landscape, they’ve flourished. Take, for instance, the harbinger of #DanishDNA, ECCO. Just this past week, ECCO unveiled their Prime Concept flagship location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre; the first of its kind in North America and a nod to the robust retail market the Scandinavian brand enjoys thanks to loyal Canuck consumers.
Jordan Searle, the President of ECCO Shoes Canada Inc., feels the brand gets to fully realize the support of its products in the Canadian marketplace. “We have a very loyal customer base. In the past three to five years, we’ve extensively upgraded our store environments and opened more locations, because I think we’ve been underrepresented in Canada. But just being present in the market has brought about success, and we’re really humbled by that.”
The refitted Yorkdale location now boasts an almost entirely modular design, which lends itself to consistently being able to remerchandise and showcase products in a more luxurious fashion. A large leather wall, adorned with the Toronto skyline, anchors the back of the store,
while more lush leather is found peppering the mid-sized location. The greatest offerings from ECCO’s product line – including growing segments such as golf, athleisure, and kids – are spotlighted by the perfect lighting by Danish design house, Louis Poulsen. “There’s a lot more segmentation [in the Yorkdale flagship],” says Searle. “Here it’s very clear that we have incorporated our leather goods shop-in- shop concept, so we can highlight our bags and smaller leather goods… Golf has been highlighted very clearly in this store. It allows consumers to really understand the brand better.”
ECCO is one of the world’s leading leather manufacturers – “I think we’re the third largest producer of leather globally,” adds Searle – and, because of this, ECCO’s quality is renowned for not only its fit but its leather innovation. Just recently, the company unveiled a transparent, pliable cowskin leather “It’s brand new, and we’re first to market with it,” conveys Searle, adding, “We don’t have a product application just yet, but there will be one soon.”
Similar innovations, such as the use of yak leather over the past decade (“It’s three times stronger than regular leather, which allows us to cut it incredibly thin”) and a temperature- sensitive leather (“It changes colour with heat, and we’ll see it coming into our products towards the end of 2018”) keeps the brand on the cutting edge of product innovation.
The ECCO Prime Concept at Yorkdale is akin to a mini-museum of Scandinavian-fueled leather modernization – sans the pricey trip to Denmark, of course. Oh, and they sell shoes, too.