“Fashion is my passion and a way of life.” With little experience and virtually no education in fashion, Arie Assaraf, owner and founder of TNT – The New Trend, was able to create one of Toronto’s most elite boutiques that the city has to offer.
The unconventional story behind one of Toronto’s most exciting brands truly depicts how passion can break barriers and create incredible opportunities. Arie was raised and schooled in Israel during a period where cowboy boots and cowboy hats were the only “in-style” fashion trends. “Growing up working on a farm, fashion was never really relevant. Although I do remember always having to have the coolest cowboy boots and hats.” Arie later joined the Israeli army where he studied aviation communication and worked in the tower control at an army base. The only form of self-expression through fashion in the army was how clean your boots were and how pressed your uniform was. “I was known around the base for always being put together properly. I would get made fun of for spending so much time making sure my uniform was ironed and shoes were shined but at the end of the day, I didn’t think that would manifest into a passion for fashion.” It wasn’t until the age of 24, a few years after Arie’s service in the army was complete, that he decided to make a dramatic change in his life. He had the opportunity to pack up and move to Toronto where he would meet his older brother Patrick Assaraf and start a new life. With little direction or set plan, Arie opened his mind to whatever this new opportunity and experience had to offer. “Moving to a new country with very little in belongings and not much of an idea what I would do when I got there can be quite overwhelming. I knew, however, that when leaving Israel, a place of comfort and routine, it was going to be for an experience that will change my life forever in the best way possible. I had to be open minded to anything and everything if I was going to be able to survive in this new environment.” A month into moving to Toronto, Arie was fortunate enough to receive a job offer from a connection he made through his brother within the fashion retail industry. “I started off helping with shipping and receiving as well as managing stock. A few months later I became a sales associate in womenswear, working closely with customers and building a clientele base. What I realized is that fashion is more than just a necessity – it is a way of life.” For Arie, it was never simply just a sales position with the ultimate goal of making a sale. Immediately he saw his passion and vision for the industry evolve, which would eventually leave a mark in the city’s fashion world and more importantly within himself. He loved the elements of making people feel good about themselves through what they were wearing, showing people how to think outside of the box and creating a closet for them. “Our story is about catering to the closet; we are a closet. We clothe people head to toe, It’s about all the necessities in the closet and then growing the image from there. That’s why staffing is so important. We don’t have salespeople. We have stylists.”
“You have to have a vision in order to reach your goal and tell proper story.” Looking at the evolution of TNT as a brand and its representation in the market all stems back to the passion and vision that Arie has for his company. For more than 24 years, Arie Assaraf has had his finger on the pulse of what the next trend will be. In order to ensure that the stories he has to tell gets broadcasted on a platform big enough to show how unique and revolutionary they may be, Arie had to expand his retail presence beyond his initial location in the central area of Toronto. TNT has expanded significantly within the city itself, but as well as outside of Toronto. Today, there are three main destinations in Toronto and one in Montreal where each location is represented by a group of individual spaces offering a different point of view in ones’ wardrobe. The newest addition to the TNT world is through a satellite store in Melbourne, Australia. When entering a completely new market it was Arie’s goal to ensure that his vision and integrity as a brand remains intact while catering to the needs of his new clientele. “We have created a unique shopping experience that allows our customers to feel welcomed and excited every time they enter the store. It’s extremely important that in any future expansions we stick to our roots and what has made us so successful.” In an industry that is saturated with competition, it is paramount to differentiate yourself from everyone. With where the market is today, experience will trump everything. Of course having the right product is necessary, but it is how the product is displayed and the experience a customer receives when shopping that will allow TNT to continue to have a competitive edge against their competitors. “We have become a destination for our customers – a place where people want to come to hang out and explore everything we have to offer. We have been, and will continue to be innovative in any way we can be to ensure we always have that cool-factor that creates the ultimate shopping experience for our customers.”
it one step at a time, have a six-month goal, because it’s reachable, and tell a story.” Arie
has a vision and knows what he likes, wants and always achieves his goals no matter what.
Arie taught me that you have to have a vision, you have to know who you are and who your
customer is and you must have the means to make it. Overall, Arie Assaraf is my mentor
and inspires me to always work to the best of my abilities.