Branded Boutique may look like the new kid on the block, but the Spadina Ave. designer outlet has roots in the 'hood. For three years, Branded occupied the space below its current location before packing up and settling in Woodbridge two years ago. They're back, and with twice the footprint of the original store.
With double the square footage, owner Warren Goldstein is happy to be able to expand the business into other areas. Branded began as a discount denim shop, selling high-end jeans and shirts at outlet prices. Now, the massive 5500 square-foot upstairs space can accommodate accessories, footwear, and fragrance in addition to an expanded selection of denim and apparel.
Goldstein likens the shop to Nordstrom's Rack or Off-Saks in the US, and tells me that Canada doesn't really have any other comparable options. I want to disagree with him. I have been to Holt Renfrew Last Call, after all. But then again, it is in Vaughan, which, for a car-less urban girl like me, might as well be in the US. Goldstein hopes to keep shoppers in Canada, even when our dollar is doing so well. In-season goods are even cheaper than American pricing in some cases, eliminating the need to cross the border for a deal on Uggs.
I visited the store prior to their November 4th launch, while huge shipments of high-end denim still sat in boxes. As I dug through the merchandise, I'll admit that I was initially turned off by overly bling-y rhinestone belts, True Religion bedazzled jeans, and cornea-assaulting board shorts. The radio was pumping club anthems via Z103. I felt very much out of my element. But when a friendly staffer boasted that the shop had something for any style, i looked deeper.
J Brand skinny twill cargo pants with ankle zips are right in my wheelhouse. And at 40% off the suggested retail? Cha-ching. Other J Brand styles can be had for as low as $99. I am also loving a D&G linen-canvas bowling bag with acid-green patent leather detailing, and $40 sustainable sneaks by Simple in a cute red gingham pattern.
High-end brands like Prada, Jimmy Choo and Miu Miu also make an appearance. While a handbag of this caliber might still run you more than a few pretty pennies, it is accessible luxury at least. Everything in the store is already on sale - up to 80% off - as soon as it hits the floor. Surprisingly, the styles are mostly very current and in-season, unlike many overstock and outlet businesses.
At first glance, Branded may overwhelm and seem to cater to a younger club-crowd. But a good dig reveals fashion finds for any age, size or style. And what's an outlet shopping trip without a little digging, right?
Photos by Dennis Marciniak.