When Matteo Sgaramella decided to relocate the flagship store of his Canadian menswear brand, Outclass, from College Street to 343 Roncesvalles Avenue, he asked local design studio MSDS to turn a former kitchen depot into an understated canvas for his locally spun threads.
“Sgaramella was looking for something that reflected his approach to fashion and design,” say Jessica Nakanishi and Jonathan Sabine, who lead the studio. “A space that had a simple and classic feel, while expressing thoughtful and practical details.”
The result is an unembellished outpost where simple wood detailing, drawing on Japanese and European influences, plays foil to rows of tailored menswear. “We wanted to highlight craftsmanship and did so by leaving the envelope blank to draw attention to some key moments in the shop,” says Nakanishi.
The counter is one such moment. Wrapped in lacewood, white oak and maple wood marquetry, the centrepiece evokes a richly patterned textile. Above, a handmade Noguchi paper lantern from Japan casts a warm glow over each transaction. Traditional and handmade, the vignette pays (quiet) tribute to the manufacturing practices of Outclass. Hyper local, the brand employs the last operational garment factory in Toronto’s historic fashion district as well as many smaller outfits around the GTA.
At the back of the store, a curving wood screen delineates the customer-facing shop from the in-house design studio. The slatted wood feature also elegantly resolves a level change left over from a previous addition at the rear of the building. This, together with irregular bulkheads and jutting walls complicated the renovation, especially on what the designers call an “ambitious budget and timeline.”
“We tried to clean up the lines of the walls and conceal as many of the jogs as possible by creating intentional niches,” says Nakanishi, “situating the change rooms and back of house studio space strategically around these level changes.”
Niches for hanging racks are illuminated by warm strip LED lighting that invites customers to explore the collection. Say the designers: “We wanted to create a calm, warm space that drew people in from the street.” The result, like the clothing, is a locally made and crafted flagship.
In line with the Outclass brand, the newly completed retail space by MSDS Studio celebrates local craftsmanship and design.