We know there are a gazillion shopping guides on the web, but truthfully, none of them give us what we want. So instead of looking to others, we've decided to launch a series of city guides ourselves. First up? Toronto. Which city would you like to see profiled next? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the 1920s, New Yorkers (and Chicagoans and Detroiters) came to Canada to get their supply of booze. Gangsters like Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Al Capone made their names, and their millions, with whiskey from the
FOR WOMEN Contemporary (Image shows from left clockwise: Narwhal, Jonathan and Olivia, Chasse Gardee, The Drake General Store)
Name: Jonathan and Olivia Location: 49 Ossington The Deal: Opened in August 2008, J+O quickly became Toronto’s hippest boutique. Since then, the owner has continued to take on more well-designed brands, married Surface 2 Air co-founder Nic Jones, and opened up the first in-store Topshop boutique in Canada, solidifying J+O as a must-shop destination without losing the unpretentious, well-curated vibe of a small boutique. What You’ll Find: Cult-favorite brands like Surface 2 Air, Acne, Rick Owens’ Drkshdw and more alongside Rag & Bone, Isabel Marant and lesser-known International brands like Our Legacy and Whyred. Not to be missed is the store’s Topshop boutique, an installation stocked with only the best pieces from Topshop’s collection, including Kate Moss for Topshop and Unique.
Vintage (image shows from left, clockwise: 69 Vintage, Courage my Love, I Miss You Vintage accessories, I Miss You Vintage furs) Name: 69 Vintage Location: 1100 Queen Street West The Deal: It’s got a fun, quirky vibe and the sales people and owner are super friendly. They also teach vintage-inspired sewing classes and host epic, themed parties that go well past midnight. What you’ll find: A great selection of stylish winter gear, from well-priced furs ($100-$200) to utterly warm classic cowichan sweaters ($90-$120). They also have affordable cocktail dresses, boots and quirky-cool accessories. I walked away with a gorgeous colorful scarf from South America for $20.
High-End (Image shows from left: Holt Renfrew, The Room at the Bay) Name: Holt Renfrew Location: 50 Bloor Street West The Deal: Long heralded as the Barneys of the North, Holts is an essential stop for any shopping enthusiast. Located in the heart of Yorkville (Toronto’s answer to 5th avenue), Holts has all the trappings of a major department store: four stories packed with high-end designer labels, contemporary lines, handbags and shoes and decorated in the obligatory bright-lights-beige-carpet fashion. What You’ll Find: Holts has all the goodies: From Chanel, YSL and Gucci (which all run boutique-esque departments within the store) to more affordable lines like Alexander Wang, Richard Chai LOVE, Vince, Theory and more. They also boast hundreds of shoes, sunnies, handbags, two great cafes and fantastic people watching.
FOR MEN Contemporary
Name: Sydney’s Location: 682 Queen St. West The Deal: Anyone who carries Dries Van Noten’s boys sweaters already has a head start with us, but the brands at former stylist and tailor Sydney Mamane’s eponymous Queen St. West boutique are really just the starting point. This is a gorgeous shop, where the rustic and comfortable design touches, like the nut-brown hardwood floor and Canadian-industrial vintage pieces contrast Sydney’s intelligent advocacy of streamlined contemporary European brands like Dries, Marni, Rick Owens, as well as niche American gems like Billy Kirk. www.shopsydneys.com
Name: Dennis’ House of Vintage Vintage Location: 1239 Queen Street West The deal: This is the only vintage shop I need to visit when I’m home. It’s far from the only one I do visit*, but when I’m hankering for vintage and I don’t have an entire afternoon to traipse around Kensington, a quick hour at Dennis’ usually sates me. Owner Dennis Adamidis opened up a location in London last year, which has injured his stock or rare military, industrial, and just good ol Canadian apparel, but his store is still the standout for quality men’s finds.
If you’re lucky, Dennis’ Lieutenant, Chanel Rogers, will be behind the counter when you arrive. She’s a gem, and she knows her way around old threads to boot. houseofvintage-toronto.blogspot.com
* Honorable mention goes to Bungalow on Augusta St.—I’ve never walked away from that shop disappointed, or empty-handed.
Name: Via Cavour Location: 87 Avenue Road The deal: Growing up, I never spent much time in Hazelton Lanes, the tony mall in Toronto’s formerly bohemian, and now chic-as-can-be Yorkville district, but that changed about seven years ago when Via Cavour opened its doors. If you want to be the most nattily dressed gent at your office, or are just looking for a piece or two of fine Italian tailoring to spiff up your wardrobe, this is the right place to start. Owners Santo DeRose and Fabio Fata choose their jackets, knits, trousers and suits—from Italian houses like Pal Zileri, Loro Piana, and Brunello Cucinelli—with the most discriminating eyes in the 416.
The clothes are expensive, but there’s no pretension here. These are the finest materials and cuts you will find in Toronto, so you shouldn’t expect the kind of sale deal you’ll find in Holt Renfrew’s basement. You can also expect to be treated like a guest, not just a customer—I’ve enjoyed a glass of red while I’ve made my way through their unmatched selection of ties. Barolo, of course. www.viacavour.ca