The reported soon-to-open Versace Home store near the Woodwards redevelopment is part of an eastward trend for Vancouver retailers, says the executive director of the Hastings Crossing Business Improvement Association.
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” said Wes Regan when informed of the rumoured opening in the 300-block West Cordova.
“The rest of the city has become unaffordable, not only for homeowners but for businesses as well.”
Regan said upscale stores are beginning to move into Hastings Crossing, an area bounded by Downtown Vancouver, Chinatown, Gastown and Strathcona.
“We’re seeing everything moving eastward,” he said. “Having the local area plan approved has given a lot of people a sense of certainty about what to expect.”
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is an area of ongoing, and controversial, redevelopment. Long a refuge for the city’s poor, along with more than its share of alcoholics and drug addicts, the area’s steady gentrification has drawn public protests as the poor are displaced to make way for eateries and retailers.
The area’s funky, chic boutiques have even received international acclaim.
The New York-based Complex fashion magazine recently put Gastown in elite company, naming it the fourth-most-stylish neighbourhood in the world, outdone only by New York’s SoHo, Tokyo’s Harajuku and the First Arrondisement in Paris.
The magazine name-dropped such exclusive fashion retailers as Haven, Inventory and Roden Gray in naming Gastown a go-to fashion destination.
Enter, apparently, the renowned Versace label, although in its guise as Versace Home, selling furniture, housewares, and the like, but not fashion.
“It’s true, from what I understand,” said Maria Leone of her family’s exclusive Leone boutique, which carries the Versace fashion line. “But I haven’t heard it from the Versace people.”
Either way, she’s not concerned about competition for her company’s store, a Vancouver fixture since 1987.
“It wouldn’t be competition for us, but more for furniture stores or housewares,” said Leone.
“We used to carry Versace Home. Apparently it’s coming back.”
A Tuesday visit to the reported location, 310 West Cordova Street, proved that someone is about to move in.
A trio of tight-lipped painters worked behind papered-over windows, spray-painting the high-ceilinged outlet and keeping the name of their of their employer to themselves.
The online publication Retail Insider — calling itself “Canada’s No. 1 Source for Retail News, Opinion and Analysis” — seems sure of the new opening, even if not confirmed by any named Versace representatives.
“TOP STORY — World’s 1st Versace Home Flagship to Open in Vancouver’s Gastown,” reads the website, reporting that the Cordova location will open this fall and offer “furniture as well as tiles, lighting, bathroom fixtures, bath accessories, porcelain, textiles, fabric, decorative pieces and wallpaper.”
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