These local Toronto fashion boutiques will make you want to forgo malls forever
Written by Grayson Miller
When people first think of great local shopping cities, the classics like New York, London, and Paris come to mind. While these well-known cities provide an experience that is a treat and an experience like none other, Toronto is becoming a shopping metropolis to be recognized.
From cool Toronto brands that house their own local goods to fantastic independent retailers offering the world’s best products, Toronto’s local shopping scene continues to flourish as mid-size national retailers shutter their doors. In this climate, local shops not only have to reign supreme with stellar customer service and superior knowledge, they must also offer a product mix and offering that is top-notch and easily accessible.
Whether you’re looking for hard to find gems, or the coolest brands Toronto has to offer, the local shops nestled in our city house some of the best shopping around. If you know where to look and what shops are a must visit, you can easily navigate the local scene, score yourself superb products, and at the same time support some of the brightest local entrepreneurs in the city.
MADE Clothing Co
145 Berkeley St #500, Toronto, ON M5A 2X1
There are many places to get a custom suit in Toronto, but none do it with the ease and lack of pretentiousness as MADE Clothing Co. Located in Toronto’s east end on Berkeley street, MADE focuses on made-to-measure tailoring and is for the man that wants to look his best and is ready to upgrade to the wonders of a bespoke suit.
MADE has a four step-process that ensures that you not only get a beautiful suit, but you get an experience commensurate with the garment. You can sit down with a MADE expert, enjoy a drink or cocktail, get measured and leave knowing you’re going to receive a beautiful suit. When you’re talking about bespoke suits, be prepared for a wide variation in price, as the garment is a reflection of you and your wishes.
819 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G1
Nestled on Queen Street West lies one of the best street wear stores in North America. Known for being the purveyors of style, Nomad has been catering to the well dressed in the city since 2010. The small shop with big brands houses coveted names such as Commes des Garçons PLAY and Common Projects and the shop’s concrete floors paired with reclaimed wood and white walls makes the space feel like you’re in a Lower East Side New York City boutique.
As far as price point goes, Nomad isn’t the place for bargain shopping. Beautiful and hard to find street wear comes with a hefty price tag. Clothing and footwear start around $200 and quickly go up from there – sometimes hitting the $1500 mark.
26 Bellair St, Toronto, ON M5R 2C7
Uncle Otis has been a local staple for over 25 years, which is no easy feat. Donnell Enns who heads up Uncle Otis credits the success of the store to carrying coveted staples as well as focusing on customers’ changing needs. Uncle Otis is a Mecca for the urban gentleman looking to enhance his wardrobe with upscale and polished items such as oxford shirts, tweed ties, tailored apparel, denim, and sophisticated accessories that assist in complementing any outfit to any style. Housing brands like Universal Works, Wings + Horns, Norse Projects and many more, Uncle Otis is one of the must shop local spots.
What’s also awesome about Uncle Otis is that the store tries to keep around 20 per cent of their product Canadian made or designed.
With coveted brands, and a premier location, Uncle Otis is competitively priced but in no way inexpensive. Shirts start around $150 and jackets and beautifully made outerwear can tip the scale above $1,000. Whatever the price, you can be assured that shopping at this local spot will keep you looking great.
505 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B4
Local brand Vitaly has grown from selling rings to close family and friends to launching their first Flagship store in one of Canada’s premier shopping neighbourhoods.
The Vitaly Compound is one of the coolest new local shops on the Queen Street West block. Known for their bold unisex jewelry and their load of 325,000 fervent instagram followers, Vitaly opened the shop in late 2016 and hasn’t looked back since. This local brand is known internationally, but makes Toronto their home. This is truly awesome for the local shopping scene as Vitaly’s jewelry and clothing are not only affordable, but cool and unique as well. With most pieces under $100 it’s easy to see why the brand has reached amazing heights.
69 Yorkville Ave #104, Toronto, ON M5R
If you’re looking for coveted or hard to find sneakers, Capsule has you covered. As one of the premier local retailers for sneakers, Capsule is the place you go for hard to find Adidas, Original NMD’s or the latest Jordan release. People shop at Capsule because it’s essentially a premium service retailer for shoppers who love sneakers!
With somewhere close to 250 styles of footwear including brands like Nike, Converse and New Balance - Capsule is one of the only shoe stores in Toronto that caters to every sneakerhead.
As far as price point goes, expect to find shoes retailing above $100 with most falling around the $149 - $275 price mark.
Park & Province
927 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1G5
Time and time again, Park & Province has been recognized as one of the best new menswear stores in the city, and when you’re talking about true local shops, it’s hard to beat. Originally an online only shop, Park & Province has now morphed into a beautiful store that aims to curate amazing clothing for men. High-end customer service provided by owners Gray Butler and Chris Naidu make Park & Province feel like home and a place where you want to shop over and over again. The company houses all your local shopping needs, from the softest and coolest basics to luxury hotel level apothecary.
With a product range like no other store in the city, Park & Province provides a price point that matches the quality of their goods. A button-up oxford will cost you around $165; a technical mac rain jacket will set you back about $585.
Shopping at Park & Province is a treat to say the least. As one of the highest Google rated stores Park & Province offers amazing products, a great atmosphere and a chance to chop it up with some of the Toronto’s best young retail talent.
131 Ossington Ave, Toronto, ON M6J 2Z6
Known for their now famous/infamous Toronto-vs.-Everybody T-Shirts, Peace Collective quietly opened a very cool concept store on Ossington in late 2016. The store houses their capsule collections as well as, believe it or not, a dessert bar. Another truly local shop, their product is distinctly Canadian and not only pays homage to our city and country, but makes it look pretty damn cool at the same time.
Prices for Peace Collective are very affordable with T-shirts at $34.99 and capsule collection hoodies topping out around $100.00. It’s very easy to show your Toronto pride and keep it local.
1122 College St, Toronto, ON M6H 1B6
Another truly local brand and shop, Outclass, run by Matteo Sgaramella and Rebecca Sarracini, is another true Toronto brand that started out selling wholesale to local shops and then moved into their own space. Located at College and Dufferin, Outclass is a high-end menswear shop that has a strong local following and focuses on making great menswear for everyday wear.
The love that goes into the Outclass brand is almost unrivaled in the city, as Sgaramella has most of the Outclass collection produced in Toronto and every garment is personally inspected to ensure the highest quality.
Non-lovers of local may gripe about the cost, but with high quality garments and a made-in-Canada label come hefty prices. Crew neck sweaters will cost you approximately $150.00 and their much loved outwear pieces will set you back around $450.00. In all honesty though, you need to see the clothing up close to appreciate the level of detail and quality that goes into each garment.
2959 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z2
Located in the Junction district lies one of Toronto’s coolest furniture and design stores. Mjolk (pronounced Mi-yelk) is a design gallery featuring the fusion of both Japanese and Scandinavian designs. From furniture to kitchenware, Mjolk showcases the streamlined pieces of Japanese creations with the muted colour palette of the Nordic region. The products carried at Mjolk cannot be found anywhere else in North America; some products are not even found in Japan. All of the pieces are sourced by owners John Baker and his wife, by going directly to the artist and collaborating in some way.
Baker describes the studio pieces as “being rooted in a Canadian aesthetic. Canada’s landscape is similar to that of Scandinavia, which shines through in the creations.” Mjolk is an impressive space juxtaposing natural media to the clean lines these designs stem from. Mjolk is another example of how if you want quality, you’ll have to shell out for it. Some of the bed frames start around $10,000! If that is way above your price range but you still want to own something from the beautiful shop, you can get your hands on Japanese and Scandinavian designed objects starting around $20. Not bad.
Stole My Heart
1504 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1T5
Ladies and gentlemen if you’re looking for a local shop with amazing lingerie, whether for yourself or for your partner, look no further than Stole My Heart. Located on Dundas West, Stole My Heart Lingerie is a store that caters to women who are true to themselves and are proud about celebrating their bodies! The interior of the store definitely has a girly aesthetic, and a whimsical decor, but the collection of lingerie can be anything from sexy and cute to full on badass.
As anyone who has bought boutique level lingerie knows, the prices can get out of hand pretty quickly, but Stole My Heart has pieces that cater to every budget. With a selection of products under $50, under $100 and under $500 there’s something there for you. As one of the newest local retailers, Stole My Heart is a must shop.
V S P
1410 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y5
Located on Dundas Street West, VSP is one of the best vintage/ consignment stores out there. Catering mostly to women, VSP houses all types of products. You’ll find everything from Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Acne to Gap and H&M.
The mantra at VSP isn’t just about high-end designers. It’s about providing customers with beautiful products regardless of the brand. The shop itself is bright and white with clean lines, marble tables and racks along the wall - an elegant take on reduction. Shopping inside VSP feels like you’re shopping inside an upscale boutique, but with friendly and knowledgeable staff. You can get the New York Boutique feel with New York Boutique products for less.
Smoke + Ash
644 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1E4
Originally named Sauvage, Smoke + Ash rebranded itself to become an all encompassing lifestyle boutique, carrying clothing, footwear, accessories, apothecary products and small housewares. Once inside you’ll be greeted by store owner, Jaya Kahlon, whose personality is reflected throughout the bright and modern shop.
Smoke + Ash is a beautiful little local shop nestled on Queen west that caters mostly to women. Now through the rebrand it focuses more on a quality selection of shoes and offers access to international brands as well as local Toronto favourites like Kastor & Pollux and Mary Young Lingerie.
6 by GEE
6 Roxborough St W, Toronto, ON M5R 1T8
Once inside the small Roxborough beauty and apothecary store, you’re instantly transported to a realm of amazing smells and a luxurious vibe. 6 by Gee is unapologetically luxe. The store caters to the Rosedale crowd, and the prices reflect this. Before the arrival of Saks and
Nordstrom, Gee by 6 was the only place where you could discover the ultimate fragrance series by Le Labo, a wonderful range of unisex scents adopted by the Fairmont chain of hotels.
What’s interesting about 6 by Gee is that it’s the ultimate mix of a beauty bar, an upscale boutique and an apothecary store. Once you’re inside you’re instantly transported into a luxury warmer climate shop, which usually can’t be found outside of Bal Harbour or Hawaii.
Grayson Miller is the Director of Digital and Vice President at StyleDemocracy which is a digital/social marketing, and retail event management company based out of Toronto, Ontario. StyleDemocracy connects brands to consumers, and consumers to brands. Their list of clients include some of the most sought after brands including: NORDSTROM, TOMS Shoes, NIKE, Levi's, PUMA, Fred Perry, Lacoste, Nike, French Connection, Roots, Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, Frank + Oak, New Balance and more. Grayson was recently featured as an expert in his field by Novella Magazine and as 'HePreneur of the Month' by SHE Canada Magazine.