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J. Crew continues Canadian expansion, brings menswear to new Toronto stores

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TORONTO - With henleys from Canada, socks from Wales and Japanese denim, international influence is threaded throughout a sizeable portion of menswear offerings carried by U.S. brand J. Crew.

The American retailer opened its first international location — a stand-alone women's store — in Toronto last year.

With the subsequent launch of locations in Vancouver and Edmonton featuring items for men and women, the brand is continuing its northern expansion with a return to the Canadian city where it initially opened.

Menswear has made its debut in Toronto at its newly opened location in the Eaton Centre, which also features the retailer's women's collection. Another store is set to open at Fairview Mall on Oct. 31.

Frank Muytjens, head of men's design for J. Crew, said they seek to design menswear for a guy interested in quality and fashion but who "doesn't want to stand out too much."

"He knows about fit, and when he purchases something, he's in for the long haul," Muytjens said in an interview at the Eaton Centre location. "He wants his purchase not just to last for one season — he wants it for different seasons."

A colourful array of classic, casual staples like cords, chinos, flannel and oxford button-downs are featured alongside cashmere pullovers steeped in vibrant tones and suited separates fashioned from English and Italian wools.

Muytjens said holiday offerings will include Fair Isle knits, top coats in English tweed fabrics and the slim-fit Ludlow suits in heavier fabrications.

In step with the brand's focus on delivering a twist on classic styles, fall womenswear offers such unconventional pairings as jewelled-collared blazers and colour-blocked sweaters covered in beads.

Tom Mora, head of women's design, said ranges of rich colour like shades of pink, red, orange and purple are offset in the collection with "gorgeous neutrals" like camels, taupes, greys and navies to balance out the bolder hues.

Mora said the fall-holiday line draws inspiration from the famed photographs of the late American lensman Irving Penn, whose portfolio encompassed celebrity portraits, fashion, still life and remote locations.

"I always looked at his photographs and I thought they were so inspiring in how classic they were, but they were always so elegant," he said.

"I think that's what we always strive for at J. Crew is elegance and timelessness as well."

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