After years of successful popup locations, Toronto-based women’s footwear brand Zvelle has found a permanent home at 131 Davenport Road in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood.
The digitally-native brand was initially founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Elle AyoubZadeh.
WOMEN’S FOOTWEAR BRAND ‘ZVELLE’ OPENS PERMANENT LOCATION AFTER YEARS OF POPUPS
Over the years it has run popular popups across the city — most notably a highly-successful Yorkdale Shopping Centre popup, along with one at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, one in Yorkville Village, and one in Sherway Gardens. Zvelle also enjoyed success with a popup location in New York City’s Soho neighbourhood in 2017.
The new Zvelle location is located on Davenport Road in Toronto, a short walk from Toronto’s high-end Bloor-Yorkville shopping district. Set back from the road and surrounded by trees, the retail space is quite large and designed with the customer in mind. AyoubZadeh has put careful thought into every detail of the new location, with comfortable seating for guests, tea and coffee offerings, and mood lighting to create a warm atmosphere. The furniture is colourful, with purple accents running through the space — a colour that is quickly becoming Zvelle’s signature shade.
“We designed our showroom to be personal and intimate with an independent streak. Every piece of furniture has a story. We want our customers to experience personal shopping the Zvelle way while you relax in our lounge and try on our latest styles. I see our way of doing retail as more than just buying a pair of shoes. You may walk in for a pair of shoes but you leave with much more,” said Elle.
ZVELLE OFFERS HIGH-QUALITY FOOTWEAR AT ACCESSIBLE PRICE POINTS
Zvelle shoes combine meaningful design with impeccable quality and heightened consciousness, all while retailing at an accessible price point. Originally introducing the brand with three designs, AyoubZadeh has grown Zvelle to now include more than 13 styles, as well as a collection of leather bags and totes. All Zvelle shoes are made in Italy and incorporate a variety of cultural influences, due to AyoubZadeh’s multi-cultural background and varied interests.
Elle AyoubZadeh’s creative journey started in Shiraz, Iran, a city of poetry, flowers and art. She grew up in Dubai, at the crossroads of the old and new worlds, before moving to Nelson, New Zealand, before her love of global culture brought to her Sydney, where she started her career before she moved permanently to Toronto in 2007.
The Zvelle brand is known for its practical yet stylish designs and AyoubZadeh seems to have perfected the more relaxed style in the wake of COVID-19 and the subsequent change in consumer needs. Zvelle’s newest addition is an Italian moccasin named V. Designed to bend to the shape of your feet, the flat comes in a range of colours from different shades of pink to teal and navy.
“V is the first style we designed during the pandemic and is handcrafted in our factory in Italy. With all the extreme safety precautions now in place, the process of making shoes, and even getting to the factory, has changed for our dedicated craftspeople. V is a statement about the power of human beings to produce beauty and meaning in our changed world. We’ve decided to price it for the times we are in. V is named after Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor who is well known for his bestselling book Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl’s book has had a profound effect on Zvelle founder Elle’s life and she was rereading it when she was working on this style. V is more than a shoe for us.”
Elegant and free, balancing form and function, the Firenze sandal is another new design to come out of COVID. Zvelle’s latest shoe was crafted during the pandemic but designed to be free from it. With a wide adjustable leather Velcro strap, the Firenze sandal provides comfort and style. The foot bed is sheathed in leather and set on an anatomically-shaped insole. “We priced Firenze to be even more accessible than our other designs. A COVID appropriate price point.”
ZVELLE EXPANDS IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19
Seeing a Canadian brand expand and flourish in the wake of COVID is refreshing. Zvelle is clearly reinventing aspects of its brand identity to accommodate the ‘new normal’ of home offices and zoom calls. And while still designing the sophisticated heels and flats Zvelle is known for, AyoubZadeh has listened to the needs of her customers and pivoted stylistically to accommodate accordingly.
“We have always had a direct relationship with the woman we serve — our customers. We talk to them on a daily basis and they trust that we will listen to what they have to say. Initially, I designed our Amelia pumps with a 3.5 inch heel — this was the first higher heel I designed and it quickly became a signature of ours. Its inspired by Amelia Earhart and her journey. The “winged” detailing on our Amelia pump are inspired by the wings of Earhart’s plane. Many of the women who purchased this style asked if we could make it in a more walkable heel – a 3inch. We did and the sales of this heel took over the sales of the 3.5 inch heel. We only offer the Amelia pump in a 3inch heel. And we have many more examples of that. Its not just related to what we produce but also how and when we communicate.”
As the world of retail quickly changes to accommodate a post-COVID existence, the ability to adapt and evolve is imperative for the longevity of a brand. AyoubZadeh has exercised this strategy from the beginning and it’s clearly paying off for Zvelle.
“Every company is a new company after COVID, either by choice or by default. Ours is by choice. We are all learning to navigate this new normal that we are experiencing and creating together. I’m a purpose-driven individual building and running a purpose-driven brand. The pandemic only strengthened our mission and we are doubling down on our efforts to revolutionize the way women and their stories are portrayed.
“Since the start of the year we have amplified the voices of diverse women through our Walk How You Want campaign, a permanent campaign. We have also done most of our campaign and brand related marketing/shoots on women who are not professional models. Every image tells a story and we are focused on the telling the kinds of stories we want to put out in the world.”