Gravitypope Opens Designer Shoe and Clothing Paradise in Toronto

By Michael Doyle

Being an independent boutique, Gravitypope is able to develop and foster a fantastic relationship with new and exciting designers and brands.

Nestled at the foot of Ossington is a revelation for shoe lovers, a name already well known to those in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver for its ever-changing collection and beautifully designed stores. Since its inception in Edmonton in 1990, Gravitypope owner Louise Dirks has made every effort to continuously offer a finely curated selection of only the most well crafted brands, with a particular focus on unique pieces from independent designers.

Gravitypope’s newest store is also its first foray into Eastern Canada. The 4,400-square-foot location is a clever play on the department store aesthetic. The store offers everything from functional casual brands such as Camper and Vans to omnipresent designers like Marc Jacobs. But Gravitypope’s strength lies in its concern for harder to find designers and local labels.

The decadent, Felliniesque interior design of the Queen West location, coupled with an ever-changing collection of clothing and shoes, makes Gravitypope an integral stop on any shopping trip. Société Perrier spoke to Gravitypope owner Louise Dirks about their exciting new Toronto venture.

Gravitypope is a totally independent business that grew out west over the last 20 years, first with a Calgary store, then moving into the Vancouver market. What brought about the decision to expand east with this Toronto store?
I had been thinking about moving East for about four years. We were getting emails from Torontonians on a regular basis, begging for us to move East. There seems to be a demand for some of the more obscure and unique brands we carry that are not readily available in Toronto. Also, Ontario is our second largest web sale market, so we already had a well-established customer base.

Each of your locations is uniquely designed. Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for the finer aspects of the design of the Queen West store?
The design concept was formulated early in the building process. Peter Turner, my designer and the man behind all the Gravitypope store designs, wanted to focus on an ornate, Louis XVII aesthetic. He wanted a more ornate feel than all of our other stores. To find inspiration, he took a trip to Buenos Aires and purchased an assortment of amazing furniture and fixtures. Among them is the piece de resistance, a 1930s brass and glass staircase reclaimed from the landmark Buenos Aires Paramount Theatre.

Your company sets itself apart by offering a revolving and heavily curated selection of shoes, boots and clothing. Tell us a little bit about what goes into that curatorial process.
We carry a broad spectrum of brands across a wide variety of categories. We focus on the most fashionable of the comfort and sport categories to complement our luxury and fashion brands. Emphasis on well-crafted producrs, clean lines and stylish products in all categories helps unify our product selection. Being an independent boutique, Gravitypope is able to develop and foster a fantastic relationship with new and exciting designers and brands. We focus on quality and love to shop the European markets to find new and exciting brands.

The Queen West store has its separate gallery space for what you call “an assortment of beautiful things for daily living.” What can we expect from that section of the store?
The gallery offers a unique selection of housewares, giftware, toys and books such as Areaware, Donna Wilson, Middle Kingdom and Jeanne Koepp Berlin hand painted plates. What’s really exciting is the versatility of the space. We plan to use it as we like for everything from art shows to final clearance sales. Having this space also allows us to plan some exciting collaborations and installations with some of our favorite designers such as Eley Kishimoto, Jill Platner, Arielle De Pinto and Gary Graham.

Tell us a little bit about Gravitypope Tailored Goods. Can we expect to see this subdivision of what Gravitypope has to offer in the Toronto store soon?
Gravitypope Tailored Goods started in Edmonton as a means to expand our clothing, apothecary and accessories collections independent of the growth and expansion we were developing in footwear. As a result, the Toronto store has embodied and merged both Gravitypope and Gravitypope Tailored Goods into a micro department store nicely anchored in a prominent, up and coming Toronto shopping area.

Any other exciting developments for the Toronto location or the company as a whole in 2013?
It has to be the new collections that are coming in for spring 13! In menswear, one of the highlights will be the CFDA ‘best menswear designer’ Billy Reid collection.

This will also be our first season with Jil Sander Navy and Veronique Branquinho women’s clothing collections. We have carried the footwear for several seasons, so it’s hard not to get excited when we get the opportunity to expand on a collection we love.

We are also really excited to debut some wonderful new footwear collections. Adieu is an amazing collection of footwear designed by Arden Issabelle, Alber Elbaz’s assistant for 10 years prior to his move to Balenciaga. Also Catarina Martins, exceptionally made boots and shoes from the Oporto region of Portugal. And Stephane Kélian, an iconic Paris based design house producing a wonderful collection of women’s footwear that fuses English style and French country traditions with chic and luxurious finishes.

1010 Queen Street West, 

Photo credit: Richard Siemens