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Design Stores


Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on October 30, 2012

monocle torontoMonocle began as a magazine, and later morphed into a global media brand. But to the unbriefed and average College Street passerby, Monocle is just a new eclectic little boutique situated at the edge of Shaw.

monocle torontoAnd indeed, there are lots of little gifts to peruse, including Japanese-made "Happy Cards ($4.50), and Flouzen cashmere yarn ties from Paris ($150). But each item has been carefully selected to adhere to an overall Monocle mantra.

monocle toronto"These are heritage brands," says Zlad Dujsic, who shows me around the shop. "Of premium quality, certainly unique, and from designers from all around the world."

monocle torontoThat, in essence, is the Monocle joie de vivre. The brand started (and continues to exist) as a globally focused magazine, and now includes an online radio station and Monocle bureaus (such as this one) in London, New York, Zurich Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Started by Canadian-born Tyler Brûlé back in 2007, the concept is deliberately unconventional, and thus might be difficult to grasp.

monocle torontoLet's just say that if Monocle was a man, he'd be an affluent, well-travelled, business-minded thirty-ish-something, with an affinity for long reads and an olive green Japanese Porter bag. He's looking at issues from a global perspective, and wearing Australian merino wool socks.

monocle torontoAnd now, the Monocle brand has landed in Toronto. The local bureau shares physical space with sister company Winkreative, an advertising and design agency that will play host to Toronto-based Monocle broadcasting and reporting.

monocle torontoWhile I would've thought Cumberland — not College — would have been the street of choice for Monocle, I run into Tyler Brûlé's mom (of all people) who tells me this area was exactly what Tyler was looking for. "He really likes this location, as opposed to another area that's already arrived. It's up-and-coming, but not there yet."

monocle torontoThe shop, of course, offers the latest issue of Monocle (which comes out 10 times per year) for $12, along with back issues priced at $24 each. Produced by a global team of writers, researchers, and designers, the magazine covers topics such as art, business, and international affairs — articles that are punctuated by the odd Rolex ad or plug by some other luxury brand.

monocle torontoBut the function of the store, says Zlad Dujsic, goes beyond selling the magazine and featured Monocle products. "We want to change the way people consume media," he explains. "At a regular newsstand, you're not going to have someone there to engage you on the content. We want to have discussions on the health systems of nations or great global thinkers."

monocle torontoFor those who aren't interested, however, Monocle can simply be a spot to pick up a Revo table radio (with a shortcut button to Monocle's radio station, of course, $530), a flameless Hinoki cedar diffuser ($80) or a German Merz B. Schwanen t-shirt ($85). And though Tyler's mom hints at some new Canadian-made products, the "monocle," naturally, will always be on the world.

monocle torontoPhotos by Morris Lum



James / October 30, 2012 at 09:28 am
I don't know if I'd refer to College Street as "up and coming, but not there yet . . . "
nf_interactive / October 30, 2012 at 09:36 am
Interesting. I have been reading The Monocle for over five years and I find it perfectly conventional and understandable. Store looks pretty!

pz / October 30, 2012 at 10:19 am
"It's up-and-coming, but not there yet." College Street, really? haha #comeonman
mononucleosisity / October 30, 2012 at 10:27 am
I thought College came, arrived and went already.

But wait - there's a big Sleep Country Canada a block away - a sure sign the neighbourhood is getting fokking cooler by the second.
Bobby / October 30, 2012 at 10:51 am
Yeah I've lived around that area since 2003 and I haven't seen any change at all really, it's stagnant, I'm surprised they didn't choose Dundas west,.
Daniel / October 30, 2012 at 02:12 pm
Monocle invited subscribers to a sneak preview before the space opened, where my friend and I who attended had the unfortunate encounter of meeting founder, Tyler Brule, who was by far the most pompous, pretentious man I have met. It was clear he was not keen to be there nor answer simple questions like "Why College St" without snarly judgement. My experience was so bad, I went home and cancelled my 3 year subscription. Really unfortunate as their publication is wonderful, but I cannot support such a leader.
Mikey / October 30, 2012 at 02:32 pm
It looks like I'm late to the ballgame but...

That posting headline should read, as follows:

"Monocle magazine opens Toronto outpost, overprices things"


Seriously though, solid magazine but I cannot bring myself to read one cover-to-cover the way I used to when I was a wee lad, still forming my view of the world. Plus the issues are getting longer. And after you read, say, 6 whole issues, you can pretty much form a "Monocle Man" opinion of everything all on your own. No need to keep reading. It's infectious.

Definitely not surprised by the Tyler encounter. He's sort of like the male Anna Wintour, with a tinge of business and foreign diplomacy.
Sean / October 30, 2012 at 02:33 pm
I agree with Daniel. I met Tyler as well on his visit and he was so pompous and awful that I made sure not to spend $1 in his overpriced store.
Cam / October 30, 2012 at 03:16 pm
I love the magazine and look forward to it every month for the last 3-4 years.
I'm not very fussed about their location. Their NY store is also not where you would expect it to be right away.

I have to say that my wife and I were slightly disappointed in the atmosphere of the store when we dropped in this weekend.
We loved the NY store, however there was something off, here in TO. The staff was not right and didn't match the overall feeling of the brand.
One shy and pushy kid and then you another "shopkeeper" who didn't shut up for a sec.
Both were slightly overzealous and annoying. he didn't even let the two other customers get a word in. It's ok to be excited about your new job and new store...but JUST RELAX!
KitCait / October 30, 2012 at 04:08 pm
I love reading Monocle and I am not surprised about Tyler. But with that being said if you were ever an avid reader of Monocle you shouldn't/wouldn't be either.

Monocle is all about knowing the best before the rest so how can you really be surprised that he was a little pompous when really let's just admit that anyone (including myself) who reads Monocle is although probably a good kind person who is interested in world events, is still probably a little smug and pompous at times.
Michelle / October 30, 2012 at 08:01 pm
Meh, give the guy a break. So he's trying to do something different in the area. Why ask the question about location at all? And this whole concept is about being pompous. If he were any other way he would not be taken seriously.
Oni / October 30, 2012 at 09:44 pm
Tyler Brule has no use for this city: it's not Scandinavian/Japanese/Brazilian enough. It took me way too long to figure out Monocle is nothing but advertising. Why open a Monocle shop in Toronto?
Tyler B. / October 31, 2012 at 12:20 am
Let's medicate ourselves with pretty little things organized neatly. Our materialism will blot out the sun. Bask in the genius of my shallow wisdom. I am luxury. I am sophistication. I am money. I am status. You are worthless without me. My unattainable lifestyle owns me. I would be an empty shell of a human being without it. Look in my hands:a bespoke watch. Look again, diamonds. I'm on a Lear Jet.
Damien replying to a comment from Tyler B. / October 31, 2012 at 02:40 pm
I bet you are poor.
margaux / October 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm
Why indeed? Such blandness is the last thing Toronto needs.
Gargamel replying to a comment from Damien / November 3, 2012 at 09:31 am
If you can't look at the persona of Tyler Brulé and laugh a little at his ridiculousness and see him as the poster child for First World Problems, then you're truly lost. Don't take yourself and your "culture" so seriously, it makes you look like someone who reads Hypebeast magazine and was probably "...into Filson way before anyone else around here, man." P.S. accusing someone of being poor is about the tackiest thing you can do. Maybe they're just not a rich person with shit priorities in life?
Brad / November 22, 2012 at 10:22 am
snore fest
Caleb / August 23, 2013 at 01:53 pm
You need to take part in a contest for one of the finest websites online.
I will recommend this blog!

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