Loding is a new brand to many Toronto shoppers, but for a few jet-setting menswear lovers, walking into the store's first North American location in Yorkville will be like stepping into Paris or Hong Kong. The hunter-green carpet, supple leather furniture and dark-wood shelving are the same in each of the French chain's 60-plus locations worldwide. So are the timeless basics and the stress-free shopping experience.
"It's a boutique feel, and the idea is, you can come in, do a 360, and see everything that we have. It's quick, it's easy, you can sit down have an espresso and try a few pairs of shoes and shirts - it's just meant to be a very relaxing experience. I personally - not Loding - always refer to it as a phenomenal man cave," says general manager Zofia Liddell.
The affordable-luxury retailer, best-known in Europe for its calf-leather shoes with Goodyear soles ($315) and breathable Egyptian cotton shirts ($95), opened in January in the former Leonardo Galleries space. The Yorkville location was co-opened by Toronto restaurateur Yannick Bigourdan, of Nota Bene fame.
Bigourdan, who was familiar with the brand because of his French roots, "liked the concept of high quality at a great price," says Liddell. (He admits to having a huge collection of their shoes.)
That's what makes this store different from others in the tony neighbourhood: "Instead of being a brand that marks up based on the name, Loding just wanted to be able to outsource the highest quality materials they could and then give it at the fairest price - to get really good things and high-quality things without paying an arm and a leg."
Those prices are always consistent - no sales or promotions are offered, making for a simple and easy shopping experience.
"The single-price concept is, I think, one of the greatest selling points because it makes our customers feel comfortable. They know that they can look at everything, and there's not that worry that they're going to flip the shoe over and suddenly the one they fell in love with is beyond their price range."
In addition to shoes and shirts, the retailer carries four styles of cashmere sweater (V-neck, full zip, half-zip and button), in colours from eye-catching orange to classic navy ($200). Men with a classic-with-a-wink sense of style will love Loding's selection of cufflinks. "I think they're great if you have a hobby," Liddell says. "We have the old-school floppy discs. We have levels if you do construction or if you do a lot of work around the house. ... If you like going to the casino and you like playing cards, we have poker chips. We have the traditional ones as well, but these ones are just a little bit more fun."
For the less-whimsical dresser, there are Italian silk ties, with beautiful, subtle detailing that changes in the light ($70); handsome leather belts ($80); car shoes ($200) brought in especially for spring; and socks ($20) and laces ($10) in every colour of the rainbow.
"There was a big trend with socks on Bay Street a few years back. Now it's laces - so we have laces and socks that match," says Liddell.
"Despite the fact that we're very classic, and we provide timeless pieces that you can wear in 10 years just as easy as you can wear today, we like to have those accentuating pieces. It's nice to be able to stand out, but also in an appropriate way and in a creative way and in an original way."
Writing by Sarah Cairns, photos by James C Lee .