In terms of luxury retail, Vancouver has come quite comfortably into its own, and has increasingly become home to interesting independent multibrand boutiques in recent years. Sure, Canada’s growing affluence contributes a to this development, but the city also happens to be a magnet for a new generation of movers and shakers, and this has put a turbo spin on the retail scene and other sectors of the local economy. An striking new arrival in the leafy Yaletown area is indicative of the city’s stature as a shopping destination to watch.
It’s name? Leisure Center. But while some may think it has a whimsical ring, the store takes fashion very seriously, offering curated top brands in a cool contemporary context young Vancouverites have never encountered, at least, not on home turf. Founded by Mason Wu and Muyun Li, an entrepreneurial couple with a combined background in finance, fashion and retail, the store aims to cater to a savvy and well-travelled young consumers with a cosmopolitan view on fashion and lifestyle.
Leisure Center occupies a 22,000 sq.ft. space, set across the ground floor of basement of a heritage building from the 1930s, and commissioned architecture practice Casper Mueller Kneer to create an interior that captures the founders’ forward vision. Oozing a strong industrial vibe, the ground floor aesthetic is defined by large panels of shiny aluminum that lend the vast space some intimacy. The austere industrial setting forms a perfect backdrop for a number of statement artworks, such as a car sculpture – yes, it’s the one incorporating a dissected Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport – by Canadian artist Myfanwy McLeod and light exhibitions by Os ∆ Oos.
Downstairs in the basement section, the setting is equally understated, comprising of black glass and featuring a string of gathering areas, including a seminar room, a kids space, a presentation capsule, and a visual studio. And that’s not all, folks. Tthe intensive retail therapy offered by leisure center comes with a tonic bar stocked with concoctions sourced from New York City-based apothecary The Alchemist’s Kitchen, a curated library by Donlon Books from London, and custom soundtracks by local musicians, all curated by Jonny Nash.
As said, leisure center takes fashion seriously, and as such it relies on creative director John Skelton who previously honed his skills at innovative retailers Oki-ni and Ln-CC. The quirky brand list currently includes fashion brands Balenciaga, Geoffrey B. Small, Vetements, Yohji Yamamoto and M.A+, Cosmetics by Haeckels, Bioeffect, and Herb Essntls, and a mix of lifestyle items by Vitra, Mad et Len and Tom Dixon.
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