Store spotlight: over the rainbow

by Elise Diamantini

Overtherainbow

While researching a denim feature for MR’s August issue, we spoke to Joel Carman, owner of the denim store Over the Rainbow in Toronto. The shop is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

“Denim is flourishing and men’s business is growing rapidly because we built the clientele over the years,” he says. “We’ve become the go-to jeans store in our area. And that’s because we created a brand with our store: selling jeans is just a byproduct. We’ve built a community, a network of people. We used to send smoke signals, but now social media has changed all of that. I’m lucky I have my son and daughter working for the business to help connect with people using social media outside of the store.”

Carman says he stocks 150 styles of men’s denim and the store’s inventory system is a critical part of its success. “We want to offer something for everyone. We even have an in-house tailor for alterations, but we can also do things like make a button fly a zip fly or add maternity panels.”

As far as market trends, Carman says that he continues to see men’s denim trim down. “Narrow bottoms have hit the mainstream. Older guys are looking for sleeker jeans that he can dress up or down. Younger guys still love raw and selvedge denim and they’re buying joggers in denim and non-denim. Brands like Zanerobe are selling well. Fidelity denim is also offering a good jogger. This whole look is starting to take off and it’s getting to the point where people are asking for it. Sure, joggers are taking away from some true denim business since younger guys who used to wear jeans during the day are now finding this look, but he still needs jeans.”

Joel Carman, back in the day
Joel Carman, back in the day

In addition to stocking the big brands, Carman also likes to test smaller brands and mentions Kings of Indigo as a recent success story.

The store also recently collaborated with Naked & Famous on a 40th Anniversary jean and jacket. “We’ll keep testing and trying, but the innovation in the market is missing. We look at everything. The minute you think you know it all, you’re done,” he says.

OTR's 40th Anniversary pieces by Naked & Famous
OTR’s 40th Anniversary collection by Naked & Famous

Over The Rainbow: Just the Facts

  • 45,000 sq. ft. plus stockroom and office space
  • Men’s is 30-35% of total
  • Best-selling denim brands include Citizens of Humanity, 7 For All Mankind, Fidelity, Nudie, Naked & Famous, Levi’s , Hudson and J Brand
  • Prices range from $90 up to $400, but the sweet spot is in the $200 to $250 range