Toronto Shopping: A Field Guide
Toronto is a hub for innumerable diverse cultures, with an eclectic mix of styles to rival some of the larger cultural hubs around the world. From techwear, to Japanese workwear, to Swedish minimalism, fashion-forward Torontonians of all walks of life ride the humble trolleys around in full force. This distillation lends itself to some incredibly well-curated shopping experiences all around the city. If you find yourself in the shadow of the CN Tower anytime soon, be sure to explore some of our Toronto favorites.
310 Spadina Ave L01, Toronto, ON M5T 2E7, Canada
Formerly stationed down on Queen St. West, this legendary Toronto boutique just recently reopened its doors in the heart of Chinatown. Specializing in modern and forward-thinking streetwear, Nomad is a 14 year old mainstay in the city’s fashion scene.
The store has hosted pop-ups in the past for Justin Bieber, and The Weeknd’s Starboy merch, showcasing the prominent connection between Toronto’s music and fashion scenes. Nomad’s buys are always well thought-out season to season, and you’ll find a handful of notable brands out on the floor. Arcteryx Veilance, Stone Island and some thought-provoking Junya Watanabe pieces stand next to more humbly priced garments from Calvin Klein Jeans, Carhartt WIP and CDG Play.
The people are another notable feature - sales associates and managers are always down to chat about fashion, their favorite spots to eat/drink, or just shoot the shit.
Go here, work up an appetite browsing the racks, and immediately cross the street to grab lunch at Mother’s Dumplings, or any other mom + pop Chinatown establishment.
190 Richmond St E, Floor 2, Toronto, ON M5A 1P1, Canada
Another Toronto staple, Haven is the retailer other retailers wish they could be. Housed to the east in a second floor walk-up, Haven’s interior mirrors the duality of their stock - wooden floors and oak beams showcase a rough, heritage character, while white paint from floor-to-ceiling and warehouse windows display modern sensibilities.
Haven’s curation alone makes the walk over to the East side well worth it. Racks of Visvim, Kapital, and Needles feel right at home next to Bape, Cav Empt, and Stone Island Shadow Project.
Each season, Haven puts out editorial content (photoshoots, writeups) for the collections they decide to buy, providing a narrative for customers to follow that gives rational on why they decided to stock this current season of Sacai, for example.
There’s also usually incense burning when you walk in, which is a nice touch.
132 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R 1A6, Canada
For the brooding, self-proclaimed “dark child” who wears CCP, Ann D, and the like. Serpentine is a second floor shotgun boutique, small, but strikingly effective. They stock designers in the realm of Rick Owens, Guidi, MA+, 11 by BBS, while simultaneously carrying pieces from Amiri and Margiela.
Serpentine also sells lesser-known brands in the same hemisphere, which, providing an important service to the greater Toronto retail space as they promote up-and-coming labels one may not have unearthed otherwise.
135 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1C4, Canada
Walk down the steps of Serpentine and take a left. Walk down the adjacent alley to the next block over. Take a left. Congrats. You’ve arrived at CNTRBND, and you’re in for a good time.
Think of CNTRBND as that highly seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant your parents took you to for your graduation dinner (I mean that with full respect, to CNTRBND, chefs who support local farmers, and your parents). Everything you’ll find in CNTRBND is fresh, and you can expect to see the latest and greatest from some of fashion’s heavy hitters as they keep themselves at the forefront of each new season buy. Dries Van Noten, Bally, and Haider Ackermann sit comfortably next to Palm Angels tracksuits and Martine Rose puffer coats in this marble-floored Yorkville storefront.
Not willing to pay Yorkville prices? Not to worry. As you walk down the block to the Off-White store (where you plan to only examine items as if you could afford them, while the sales associates ask if you actually want to try anything on), make sure you stop a few feet beforehand and visit the CNTRBND outlet, where you’ll find last season’s stock from the main store, all at 70% off.
(But seriously, check out the Off-White “Landscape” concept too.)
1499 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6K 1T6, Canada
Can’t make it out to Ebisu, Shibuya to stock up on Kapital anytime soon? Blue Button has got you. Japanese workwear exists in it’s full indigo glory here, a modest shop right above Toronto’s Little Portugal neighborhood.
Ramen isn’t the only taste of Tokyo you’ll find in Toronto - Blue Button services that same craving, only with expertly curated picks from brands such as Nanamica, Engineered Garments, Kapital, Hender Scheme, and Japan Blue.
Tamae Miyazaki and her partner brought Blue Button to Toronto after realizing that there weren’t any stores in the city, let alone online, carrying Japanese casual wear. Their ethos is to continue discovering new brands from Japan, and around the world.