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Fashion Stores

Cat's Cradle

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on August 27, 2012

cats cradle torontoCat's Cradle is a downtown Yonge Street landmark, and yes, those actually exist. While the Yonge and Wellesley Street area might seem to be all spandex boutiques and ambiguous-looking electronics stores, there are a few gems nestled among the transient, and Cat's Cradle is one of the best examples.

cats cradle torontoThe shop has been around for decades (three generations, to be exact), evolving from its original incarnation as a menswear shop called "Dominion Clothing." Then it was operated by Samuel Citron, who handed down the business to his son, Norman, in the mid-1950s. Subsequently dubbed "Mr. Norman's Menswear," the store continued to reform throughout the '60s and through the '70s, incorporating women's fashions, its own house line, and adopting the name "Cat's Cradle."

cats cradle torontoNow operated by the trio of Mark Citron, Richard Pritchard, and Shazia Hafeez, Cat's Cradle no longer produces its own clothing, but is instead focused on showcasing great Canadian designs (along with a honed collection of international designers).

cats cradle torontoBetween browsing the racks of Betty Draper-style Bionic collared, short-sleeve wrap dresses ($127.50, on sale for $85.00), and Toronto-designed Paul Ho women's suit pants ($105) and jackets ($195.00), Richard and I get to chatting about some of the changes he's seeing on Yonge Street.

cats cradle toronto"I think what we're experiencing now is a real 'cleansing' of businesses. Actually, it's something we've been waiting for for 20 years."

Indeed, I've been noticing a little movement lately — albeit, changeover in the area still seems incredibly slow. But a new condo development here, a One Direction pop-up there, and Yonge inches ever-closer to becoming a destination. Granted, it's not there yet, and Richard agrees.

cats cradle toronto"My main complaint would just be that we don't have enough stores," he says. "If people want to go on a spree — go to an area to shop — they need to be able to go from store to store. Really, I couldn't be more thankful for some of the new development going on."

cat cradle torontoRichard says that as the area picks up, Cat's Cradle is hoping to revive its own house line. "I can see down the road maybe working with Ryerson or other design students, to collaborate and let them contribute to new designs." In the meantime, I spot a few remnants of Cat's Cradle's clothing on the sale racks on the lower level, including a pair of classic black pants marked down to $25.

For now, Cat's Cradle is focused on continuing to explore classic styles of clothing and unique accessories, with an immediate focus on expanding its social media efforts. But that doesn't mean Cat's Cradle has forgotten its past.

cats cradle toronto"We really struggled in the '90s," he says, pausing beside the rack of John & Jenn. "It was a real recession, after all, and if we weren't a family business, I don't think we'd be here."

Now, most people will tell you successful retail is all about location. So I ask Richard how the "family" aspect can translate to longevity.

"This is our home," he says simply. "It has to be here."

cats cradle torontoPhotos by Morris Lum

Discussion

5 Comments

Blueberry / August 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm
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I love Cat's Cradle! Very cute and good quality stuff. I like that it's classic clothing, something that won't go out of fashion next week (I'm looking at you, harem pants!).
c / August 28, 2012 at 01:06 pm
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i've walked past here a million times and always admired from the outside. maybe next time i'll go in (:
young at heart / August 29, 2012 at 09:40 am
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Ah, the memories. I remember buying itty bitty lycra dresses from there as a teen in the 80's (when it was the fashion - hello Robert Palmer video babes - and I had the body for them). I'm rarely in that neck of the woods anymore, so I'm glad to hear they're still around!
Parker / September 13, 2012 at 09:52 am
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Cat's Cradle had a great line of knitwear -- their in-house line -- in the '80s and early '90s. I still have a couple of their sweaters. I do hope they can successfully revive the knitwear line, because it was great. Lots of styles -- classic and modern -- and great, flattering colours. I really miss the sweaters!
Bob McCully / October 23, 2013 at 10:37 am
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I worked for Norman when the store was called Mr.Norman in the mid 60s and when Mark was a child. We often served big name artists when in town. One of the more memorable times was when Liberachie walked in with his troop of young helpers. Norm did an amusing thing that day but it's a too long story for here. Norm was a good man and I have fond memories of the time I worked Mr. Norman.

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