Kit and Ace (Bloor St.)
Founded by JJ Wilson and his stepmother, ex-Lululemon lead designer Shannon Wilson (they also happen to be the son and wife of Chip Wilson, Lululemon's founder/ex-chairman), this Vancouver-based lifestyle brand specializes in elevated basics that are functional yet stylish for both men and women. It's been described as the Lululemon of streetwear .
This particular location is a little over 3,000 square feet in size and was previously a United Colors of Benetton. Every shop is different, as the brand favours "hyper-local" custom crafted design, but of course the stores still have a cohesive look, with pops of its signature copper and cobalt throughout and its motto, "Time is precious," prominently featured.
A custom JM&Sons communal harvest table is the first thing you'll encounter at the front of this airy and minimalist-looking boutique. It's meant to be a shared workspace with free WiFi for customers, and it's also where exclusive quarterly supper clubs take place, when each store brings local creatives together for a meal.
Copper and white geometric cube light fixtures by Radar Industrial Design hang from the ceiling and a gallery wall exhibits and sells work by local artists (Kit and Ace doesn't take commission for the sales). At the opening, the wall features colourful pieces by Kathryn MacNaughton .
The space next to the wall is an aesthetically pleasing area filled with plants, a couch and coffee-table reads.
As for the clothes, they're made with easy-to-care-for luxe materials the Wilsons have developed, like their incredibly soft, no-dry-cleaning-necessary "technical cashmere," which is made with a combo of viscose, elastane and cashmere that's safe to machine wash.
Collections are designed with hypothetical muses - the female "Kit" and male "Ace" - in mind: they're members of the creative class who value quality (and are willing to pay decent coin for it - basic sleeveless tees start at $68) but also want fabrics that will work with their active lifestyles.
These clothes have clean lines and cuts that take subtle risks to create striking silhouettes. For F/W '15, Kit's Ashford Trench ($348) combining wool and down, catches my eye. Similarly mixing materials is Ace's Walcott Blazer ($398), with a detachable zip-out down-filled liner. (Note: these items are exceptions to the easy-to-care-for rule - dry clean only.)
This Yorkville location also contains a technical atelier, which is part tailor shop (it provides customization and complimentary tailoring) and mostly design lab. It's an incubator for local up-and-coming designers who will spend 10 months in residence to create future mini collections for the store with the opportunity to receive real-time feedback from shoppers.
At the back of the store is a cafe called Sorry Coffee. Read more about that here .
After we leave, my friend tells me he's never seen so many attractive people all in one store before, and he's not kidding. The staff and clientele are pretty picture perfect here, and with ambitious expansion plans - besides Canada, there are already numerous international locations with plenty more on the way - this young brand is ready to spread the beauty.
Photos by Jesse Milns.