Looking back at a great Canadian fashion story, this first-of-its-kind shopping experience took inspiration from fashion incubators and concept spaces from Toronto to New York and around the world. SQ1CONCEPT was a month-long pop-up boutique and labour of love that opened at Square One in May 2015.
SQ1CONCEPT was built out from a raw space into an industrialized gallery concept, where clothing racks hung suspended from chain links among bare walls. Light bulbs were strung through and hung from reclaimed wood crates. Dark leather furniture was dispersed throughout the space to allow guests to freely move in and out of each designer’s display to see, feel, and experience each piece.
Named The Most Powerful Stylist by the Hollywood Reporter, Leslie Fremar curated SQ1CONCEPT by selecting key pieces from each participating designers’ collections. These pieces were then featured on the SQ1CONCEPT mannequin army—a group of mannequins dressed in various concept store fashions that stood front and centre as guests entered the store.
“It’s a really hard business,” says Fremar, “but the advice I always give is ‘Come home and be supportive of home whether you’re based here or not.’ Hopefully stores like this one will allow Canadian designers to stay here and be profitable.” —Leslie Fremar, FLARE Magazine
SQ1CONCEPT, which was also chosen as Toronto Life’s Pop-Up Pick for May 2015, quickly became one of the most fashionable destinations in the GTA with Proudly Canadian and coveted designs from Alan Anderson, Beaufille, Christopher Bates, ela, Erin Kleinberg, Greta Constantine, John & Jenn, LINE Knitwear, Outclass, Sid Neigum, and Stephan Caras. The concept store offered guests a preview of the luxury Canadian brands from world-class, premium retailers, Holt Renfrew and Simons, which would arrive in 2016.