Vancouver's Leone to close by mid-2020

Iconic high-end fashion store on West Hastings Street opened in 1987

Leone has been at Sinclair Centre on West Hastings street for 33 years | Google Street View

What happened: One of Vancouver's first high-end luxury fashion boutiques, Leone, is set to close in a few months.

Why this matters: Leone was a pioneer for selling high-end luxury fashions in Vancouver and is significant in the city's retail history. 

The 33-year-old retailer posted a notice to its Facebook page that confirmed that the store is closing down and that a liquidation sale started today (March 6), with all items 15% off. 

Alberto and Maria Leone first launched a string of Alberto’s Boutique locations in Vancouver in the 1970s. They then consolidated their retail operations, rebranded and opened their iconic high-end fashion store Leone at 757 West Hastings Street in 1987. Though divorced in 2005, the two continued to work together until they sold Leone in 2015.

"Leone introduced quite a few luxury brands to the Vancouver market, and when Leone opened its store in Sinclair Centre in 1987, Vancouver was somewhat of a fashion backwater," said Retail Insider Media owner and retail consultant Craig Patterson.

"There were a few high-end stores. Holt Renfew had a relatively small store at CF Pacific Centre. Boboli and Bacci were on south Granville. Both of them used to be very important to Vancouver's luxury retail scene, but they aren't anymore, unfortunately."

Patterson said that Leone was hit with a double whammy. Not only did many of the brands that they brought to Vancouver leave to launch independent storefronts (such as Christian Dior, Burberry and Brunello Cucinelli), but other high-end competitors opened, such as Nordstrom. Holt Renfrew also expanded its square footage significantly. 

When the store opened, Alberto Leone’s dream was to operate a large, free-standing store that sold high-end Italian fashions on one floor, so that was why he opened Leone, their son Marcello Leone told Business In Vancouver in 2015.

Marcello was so eager to join the family business that he took courses year-round while finishing his bachelor of arts degree at the University of British Columbia. By 1989, Marcello had graduated and was working full time at the family business in sales before assuming the role of general manager and then vice-president of operations.

Leone left his parents’ business in 2009, when the global economy was sputtering through a financial crisis. He later went on to be an investor and CEO at RYU.