The first thing you’re supposed to notice on the denim wall, obviously, are the jeans, and there are more than enough of them for most guys to find pretty much any of the styles they want. Look down, however, and you’ll notice something else: a sort of extra bit of brown wooden shelving that sticks out, almost begging to be sat upon.
And even though the current Over The Rainbow location is brand new, Joel Carmen has no problem is that’s exactly what people do.
“This is a space to hang out in,”
says Carmen, a jovial-looking man with white handlebar moustache who recently welcomed stylists, bloggers and other media to a sneak preview of Over The Rainbow’s rebirth. “You want people to feel at home, that someone can be looking at something and ask the person they’re with what they think.”
Situated in the heart of the Yonge & Bloor shopping area within Toronto’s Manulife Centre, which is continuing to undergo renovation, Over The Rainbow will soon have prime position next to the city’s first Eataly location as well as being a stone’s throw away from Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen and other upscale men’s clothing stores.
Over The Rainbow has a long history of offering denim to the affluent and stylish, of course, after spending close to 40 years in Yorkville, where it grew to nearly 4,300 square feet. The Manulife Centre location, however, gives the company even more room with 6,500 square feet to display clothes, as well as another approximately 4,000 square feet in the back for storage and other uses.
Though it caters to both sexes, Carmen said the new store will offer about 160 different styles of denim for men, with an eye to larger sizes that accommodate the athlete and other big and tall guys that have been a mainstay over the years. And if they need to switch a button fly for a zipper or any other changes, there’s a sewing room right next to the fitting rooms where alternations are don’t for free on jeans that cost more than $150. (Carmen said Over The Rainbow has been known to alter jeans for visiting hockey and basketball stars, personally delivering them to their hotel rooms.)
“I think we always had the elevated product,” Carmen said of the change in venue. “We just didn’t have the elevated shopping experience.”
Amid massive store closures of department stores like Sears and the disappearance of some merchants from the streets entirely, Over The Rainbow almost seems to be refuting the idea that physical retail is dead.
There are the felt walls, for example, and one made out of recycled denim, that will allow the brand to put up more photographs and reference to the brand’s heritage and mission. Besides a stockroom, the back area also offers a photo studio where Over The Rainbow will shoot its own ad creative. The use of stone, copper and wood throughout are intended to evoke the strength of its core product.
“Denim is solid, and we want to reinforce that,” Carmen said, adding that he hopes the all the extra touches will make the brand as beloved as a favourite pair of jeans. “Bricks and mortar are my soul.”