“Machine washable” isn’t a term heard often along Toronto’s Mink Mile, a stretch of Bloor Street West that includes such tony flagships as Gucci and Prada. But detergent-friendly fabrics like “technical cashmere” are a trademark of the neighbourhood’s latest arrival, Kit and Ace, which set up shop earlier this month. The Vancouver-based clothing company combines the sharp tailoring characteristic of luxe Italian fashion houses with the kinds of innovative fabrics typically used for high-performance running gear.
If more than a few designs seem like business-appropriate versions of Lululemon’s offerings (one pair of cargos looks like the lovechild of military trousers and yoga pants), there’s a reason for that. Shannon Wilson, Kit and Ace’s Creative Director, worked as the athletic apparel giant’s former lead designer and is married to its founder; she co-founded this new venture with her streetwear-savvy step-son, JJ Wilson.
Lululemon’s stores are renowned for their distinctive interiors, designed in part by local managers, and Kit and Ace is taking the same collaborative, community-minded approach with its first flagships. In Toronto, that led to commissioning cube frame light fixtures from Radar Industrial Design, and custom furniture by JM&Sons. In the middle of the store, a small gallery area currently showcases three abstract paintings and a chair decked in pastel-toned splotches, all by local artist Kathryn Macnaughton.
The rest of the white, airy space adopts Kit and Ace’s standard material palette of marble and copper, which is used for everything from hangers and shelving units to the store’s metallic tunnel of an entryway. Light Pacific birch floors and an assortment of low-key floral arrangements by Patchouli Design add to the serene West Coast feel of the contemporary interior.
And while the clothing on display is designed to transition from morning bike commutes to after-work drinks, the Wilsons know that not all shoppers will have the same stamina. Sorry, a coffee bar at the back of the store, serves java in cups that showcase the work of a new local graphic designer every six months. Roger Dario designed the debut cup, which uses a playfully edgy script that evokes boat knot diagrams. It’s enough to inspire an impromptu trip to the Pacific Ocean for a ride around the Seawall.
102 Bloor St W 844 548 6223 Mon-Sat 10-7 kitandace.com Sun 11-6