Simons (Square One)
Simons is finally open in Ontario. While it's slated to make its way to Yorkdale and Scarborough Town Centre in a couple of years, the new outpost is located inside the Square One mall (near Entrance 8, to be exact).
I was a tiny kid and I bought one of my first-ever adult-sized clothing items (it was a rad black-and-grey hoodie) from Simons while on a family trip to Montreal - I remember because it was a big deal at the time. Now, I don't need to cross the border to shop, instead, I can visit the sprawling 110,000 square-foot Mississauga space.
Yet, it doesn't feel like your typical big-box fashion emporium, probably because it's bright, airy and filled with natural light - a rarity for department-like stores.
Women's clothing and accessories take up most of the first floor (don't be confused: it's on Square One's second level). Much of the merchandise comes from Simons' various private labels, including Twik, IcÃ´ne, Contemporaine and Miiyu (lingerie) for women and Djab and Le 31 for men.
Mixed in with these, you can find well-known brands ranging from Nike, Vans and Adidas all the way up to Balmain, Moschino and Play by Comme des Garçons.
In one section, I spot a cute pair of IcÃ´ne jeans ($68) alongside demin from J Brand, Mavi and Paige. Basically, the store makes it easy to mix high and low pieces together.
As I browse through the first floor, I'm particularly impressed with the selection, especially in terms of swimwear and lingerie. Many of the private label bikini tops and bottoms are about $25, though some are a little more expensive.
In the Miiyu lingerie area, I spot brands like Mink Pink, Calvin Klein and La Perla. Though, if you don't want to shell out $170 for a lacy La Perla bra, you can grab one from Miiyu for $25.
Simons doesn't carry many shoes, though there's a sizeable bag collection with items from Phillip Lim, Ted Baker and Matt & Nat as well as casual backpacks from Fjällräven and Herschel.
The small jewelry collection is filled with affordable statement necklaces, earrings and bracelets as well as slightly more expensive items from lines like Mary Kate and Ashley Olson's Elizabeth and James.
Homeware is also on the first floor. There's everything from decorative pillows to oven mitts, bathroom accessories and bedding.
Like H&M Home , this section has friendly price-points, and seasonal pieces.
After circling the first floor, I head up the escalator to browse through the menswear. A sculpture by Canadian artist Brendan Lee Satish Tang greets me at the top.
It's sitting nearby a slew of suits, many of which are under the Le 31 brand. While these items are reasonably priced, they're not far from the curated Edito designer section, which features statement pieces by Astrid Anderson, Acne and Alexander McQueen, among many others.
Though, there are plenty of more casual items from the Djag and Le 31 brands. I find crewneck sweaters for $34 and knit cardigans for $69.99.
And if (like me) you're feeling overwhelmed, you can stop by the second-floor Ève Café. It's not open when I visit, but I notice it offers espresso beverages as well as bistro fare, like salads and sandwiches.
Clothing aside, Simons has been expanding across Canada over the past few years. The 175-year-old Canadian company is still family owned; brothers Peter and Richard Simons currently run the business.
And they're now joining a number of well-known retailers as they enter the GTA market - like Saks 5th Avenue and Nordstrom, for instance. Yet, Simons' focus on both affordable and designer items might just set it apart.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.