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Fashion Stores


Posted by Briony / Posted on July 11, 2009

Imelda Toronto

Imelda is a shop that stocks those so-called "cute and comfortable" shoes that always look the same to me, despite the year or season--they all have chunky heels, round cuddly silhouettes, lots of exposed stitching, and often the same, vaguely Euro colour palette: mustard yellow, umber red, olive green, navy, and brown.


As I stood in the doorway, surveying the shop, I was able to predict all the major brands they would carry because they're all of a piece: Miz Mooz, Fly London, Dolce Vita, Bos & Co. and, of course, El Naturalista. I was right.


"I want shoes that are whimsical but not to the point of being unwearable," said Roncesvalles resident and owner Cathryn Dajka, who owns Frock just down the road, and opened Imelda in March to expand on her shop's shoe selection. "My quest is to find shoes that are comfortable and wearable but don't look like orthopedic shoes."

And what styles do they have? Chunky Fly London heels ($245) and chunky Miz Mooz heels ($115), as well as brown-soled refined hippie sandals in braided leather from Dolce Vita ($98--$175) and Bos & Co's apple-green almond-toed low-heeled pumps ($145). Irregular Choice's wackiness is always good for a laugh; this season features pastel leather patchwork heels ($168) and pink fabric Liberty print wedges with brown leather straps ($154).

The store also carries a small shelf's worth of men's shoes as well, including Clark's desert boots ($140), El Naturalista lace-ups ($269), Blundstone slip-ons ($170), and Hunter wellies ($150).


And, yes, the thick-soled, El Naturalista clogs ($174) with whorl patterns stitched on. Even the purses match the earthy vibe, featuring those seatbelt bags and leather totes in muted, dusty tones.

These styles aren't my kind of cute (I alternate between ballet flats and for-real high heels), but, hey--to each "cute and comfortable" her own. We all need to get around somehow.


Photos by Alex Russel



Kimberly / July 12, 2009 at 12:34 pm
How often do they get new stock in and what are their store hours?
MCS / July 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm
Your tone between this and the lingerie show article is a real turn-off. Snotty. This store seems cute, way to snark on it.
Briony replying to a comment from MCS / July 13, 2009 at 02:27 pm
blogTO's mandate is first-person reporting, so, if a store isn't my style, I say so. If it's an objective, information-based write-up you're after, then the fashion mags might be a better fit.

As the site's sole fashion writer (at the moment), I often have to cover things that might not jive with my style, but I like to think that, while I bring a little snark for humour purposes, I always, always highlight the great things and products about the store, and point out who the merchandise is a good fit for, if not me.

I am a big supporter of independent brands and local shopowners, so I'd hate to think that I am slagging a store, rather than merely pointing out who its audience is.

I thought I did that here. The shoes are cute for some, but not for me personally. In an ideal world, the store would've been reviewed by someone who wears these types of shoes, but I'd hope that I got across the style of shoe available and some of the specific shoes there, as well as the idea that, while it may not be my style, there are others who love these shoes. (As the announcement on the homepage points out, these brands are carried all over the city.)

I'm always trying to recruit new fashion writers so that we can expand our sartorial viewpoint: if you, or anyone you know, would like to offer a different take on the city's stores, I'd love it. Drop me a line at briony @ blogto . com.
tmb / October 8, 2009 at 06:29 pm
there's a big difference between saying a store isn't your style and being insulting - you were definitely dipping into the latter.

being sardonic and worldly is fabulous for you, but to sound so condescending does nothing for your 'first-person reporting'. it just makes you sound petty.

to answer a pp: imelda is a cute store, they do restock quite often. not everything is 'cute or cuddly'and they just got their winter boots in so i'll be heading over there shortly.
Charlene replying to a comment from tmb / November 13, 2009 at 10:23 pm
I agree with Briony. These shoes are copy cats from Balisi and Heelboy! No originality at all!
banger replying to a comment from tmb / November 22, 2009 at 09:42 pm
Okay now. There's no need to get defensive tmb and MCS. We're talking about shoes here. Not politics, religion or the last days of Jon & Kate +8. Shoes are supposed to be fun and people should review them as they see fit. That's what reviews are! Nothing in life should be taken that personally. I say get out and go shopping instead! And if you're looking for a cute shoe- go to Imelda.
Shoe lover / February 14, 2010 at 09:28 pm
I live in the Roncesvalles area and was a bit disappointed when I went to check out Imelda. The store is beautifully laid out and has a cute variety of funky higher end shoes. I found that the woman who was working needs to pay closer attention to the customers by greeting them or even just acknowledge them by smiling. I won't be going back to this store as I feel it is trying to be a bit too pretentious for the street.

It's unfortunate as they do carry cute shoes. Fortunately so does the rest of Toronto shoe stores.
Natalie / February 20, 2010 at 10:24 pm
Having just come across this review, my girlfriends and I find it unsettlingly. The four of us live just outside of Roncesvalles and we are (dare I say) avid Queen West/Roncie/Yorkville shoe-shoppers. Personally, I think the selection is brilliant. It is about time Roncesvalles had a beautiful shoe store. During the boxing day sale I bought a pair of practical shoes for my 85 year old Mother and received a funky pair of killer heels for myself (for FREE I might add).

I would call the styles unpredictable (yet on trend) and still surprisingly versatile. I have only been in the store a handful of times but it seems there is something for everyone, which I love, and styles that don't exist in comparable shops.

I also feel obliged to comment how incredibly helpful (most) of the employees are. My girlfriend even brought a christmas party dress in and the salesgirl worked with her for 20 minutes to find the perfect shoe to match the dress and occasion. The advice was knowledgeable, warm, and most importantly, honest; it is clear they aren't just out to 'bag your bucks'. We stopped by the store today and were greeted warmly by the two women working, even though they were swamped with customers at the time. One of the employees even remembered my last purchase from November. See for yourself, Imelda makes shoe-shopping pleasant and breezy, as it should be.
Amanda / February 21, 2010 at 10:56 am
I agree with Natalie 100%. My experiences at Imelda have been great! So happy to have it in the neighbourhood and will continue to support my local Roncey stores as much as I can.
V replying to a comment from Briony / February 25, 2010 at 03:26 am
I agree with the previous readers, Briony there is a way to review a store minus the condescending (too good for you) tone. Although a style is not for you,(and who's to say you're rocking the fashion scene) an unbiased review should take into account everyone's style and highlight that in a positive manner. Not to mention...."way to support local TO stores!" while insulting their selection and merchandise. Ever thought you may be hurting the local designers you support who supply to these stores? From now on I think I may support all the stores you bash, and make it a point to avoid the ones you rave about. Would love to see a picture of you, to get an idea of what your style preferences are.
Petunias / March 6, 2010 at 06:17 pm
I live in the Roncesvalles area and I love Imelda's. The window display is adorable. I love looking at it every time I go by. Most of the time it tempts me so much that I have to go in. And the staff have been very helpful. They have good information and are encouraging when its helpful - but not pushy, which I like.
Yes - this store has some of the same styles as Balisi's - but they're in a different location and fit in so well on Roncesvalles. (Personally, I also like the selection at Imelda's better than Balisi's - and I also like the feel of the store. Its quieter than Balisi's and I feel more comfortable to ask questions). I've gone and asked around about shoe prices - and I bought a pair at Imelda's for about $100 less than the shoes were listed at Balisi's.
I also want to commend Imelda's for opening a cute little store in the middle of Roncesvalles construction mess .. the fact that Imelda's not only opened, but is still there - says a lot about the quality and style they present as a store.
Petunias / March 6, 2010 at 06:29 pm
I live in the Roncesvalles area and I love Imelda's. The window display is adorable - everytime I go by it I have to stop and look and the cute shoes on the little chairs, or the old fashioned latter. Usually the display tempts me enough to go in. The staff have always been friendly and helpful. They answer questions and give advice and / or encouragement without being pushy, which I really like.
I've also shopped around to compare prices and I bought a pair of shoes for about $100 less than they were at Balisi's. I also prefer the atmospher at Imelda's. It feels quieter and more down to earth than other "trendy" shoe stores.
I also want to commend the owners for opening Imelda's during the construction mess on Roncesvalles. The fact that the store not only was able to open - but is still open and seems to be doing well really speaks to both the quality of service and the style of products they have.
Imelda's is great! Its perfect for this neighbourhood!
Briony / March 13, 2010 at 12:34 am
As I mentioned above, I stated that the store is not my style, but I was happy to point out the stand-out styles the store carries, as well as who the store might appeal to.

An "unbiased review," I assume, would be more along the lines of magazine profile that doesn't state any of the store's downsides, or the writer's own preferences or first-person opinion.

blogTO doesn't really publish those "reviews": our mandate is first-person reviews that mention the good and the bad, and offer an additional perspective to the magazine coverage (and, in some cases, any coverage at all).

Since I'm a firm believer in local businesses, I always point out the store's good qualities and the best pieces; I've never written up a store just to rip it apart. Trust me: I visit many newly-opened stores and refrain from writing them up because the review would be overly negative and could hurt the store.

I would also hope that any readers who think that I'm being overly unflattering can simply tune out my editorial voice, and merely note the brands carried, the general price-range, location, and the photos of the merchandise.

As I mentioned above, again, we are always recruiting for new fashion writers so that we can broaden our fashion coverage. I would've loved to have had someone on-staff who rocks the Imelda style to review the store in the blogTO style, but it's just me. So, please, if you know anyone who would like to review stores for us, do let me know!
Blue / May 28, 2010 at 11:15 am
Holy cow folks. Briony was being a little cheeky. Nothing more. I don't know her. I don't know any of you. I'm just looking for some info on Imelda. Your comments are a complete waste of time. Lighten the heck up!
el dude brother / February 5, 2011 at 10:01 am
I'm surprised by the negative comments about the sales staff. I live in the Roncy area and I've been in here a few times looking for shoes and boots for my lady. The staff are really nice and they always go out of their way to show me stuff. They're never pushy and they don't mind that I rarely buy anything. Did I mention the selection is amazing? Quality, not quantity. I wish more stores were like this instead of wasting our time with big box selection and nothing worth seeing.
Peter / February 20, 2011 at 03:52 pm
The employee has bad tamper. I got a feeling like they do not want to serve me
Anon / May 9, 2011 at 02:05 pm
Little to no service once you enter (even in an empty store!). Asking a question felt like you were interrupting their day. Poor experience.
braintrust replying to a comment from Shoe lover / October 5, 2011 at 11:00 am
I agree with Shoe Lover, I live in the area, and was totally disappointed in the service. I went in and the women just stared at me and turned the music off as I was looking. She wanted to close - she wasn't interested in servicing me at all. I felt like I was in a scene from Pretty Women when she goes to the high end store and the sales people are rude, this isn't a high end place but to have a local store you need great service. I won't buy anything from that store.
shoelover / December 8, 2011 at 08:09 pm
I never comment on blogs but I must say as someone who works retail I can totally sympathize with staff wanting to go home after a long day. Turning the music off is a subtle hint at closing time that you probably should finish up your shopping and come back when you have more time to shop or browse. I live in the roncey hood and I personally LOVE this shoe store and often check in weekly. The staff are friendly, funny, helpful, knowledgeable and not pushy at all. What more do you want? Try to remember, retail staff are not robots and shouldn't have to stay after hours because you couldn't manage your time better.
Mariellen Ward / July 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm
I bought a pair of $200 neosens shoes at this store and the first time I wore them, the left one cut so badly into my foot I had to take it off after one block. I think it's defective. When I went back to the store, with receipt and shoes with barely any wear on them, just a few days after purchase, I was treated with ridicule by the two women working in the store -- who intimated the problem was with my foot, not the shoe. I even showed them the cut on my foot! They wouldn't do anything for me and I left the store feeling very upset. It was the worst customer service experience in living memory.
Imelda Fan / November 3, 2012 at 08:09 pm
In response to Mariellen Ward: GET A LIFE! I'm a regular customer at Imelda (as are many of my friends) and I have to say that the staff are always fantastic, helpful and courteous. They are well loved in the Roncey hood and have many loyal customers. Imelda is successful for a reason. It's a shame negative people like you have way too much time to waste and want to take their anger out on independent boutiques. Try going after Wal-Mart next time.
Annie / February 28, 2013 at 01:55 am
I love shopping local and will avoid malls at all costs. Imelda is the best shoe store in the city! I can never leave without buying something. Unique shoes that you don't see everywhere else. The ladies who work there are friendly and lovely and have great style. Support small businesses by shopping local.
ewml / September 26, 2013 at 12:17 am
I was looking for brands that the store carried and you had it for me. More than I can say for the store website. So well done!
Jess / September 28, 2013 at 09:02 am
Best shoes. Best staff. Best store name. Best street.
Karen / October 3, 2013 at 10:11 am
Imelda has the best selection of shoes by far!! So many pretty shoes! I used to never shop there because everything was too chunky and high for me to wear (I love oxfords and flats). But there is a new owner and the shoe selection is so much better now. I drool every time I'm in there. So much better than Queen West or Eaton Centre. I wish they had an online store.
Mia / November 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm
I thought it was just me, but I agree- whenever I come into this store, there's never a greeting or any exchange of words. It's totally quiet. I feel very uncomfortable browsing here. The owner of this store always owns Frock. The employees at Frock are definitely more friendly.
Tracy / November 27, 2013 at 04:02 am
Oh wow...I'm totally addicted to Imelda! Moved to Toronto a few years ago and I work near the store. I pop in almost every week and have a chat with the ladies who work there. So friendly, no pressure to buy and they carry the most comfortable and unique shoes I've ever seen. Fab shoes and service! I keep coming back for more.
John / December 6, 2013 at 11:19 am
Just bought a beautiful purse for my wife at this store. We live in the neighbourhood. I've gotta say the staff were really helpful and friendly. I hate shopping but they really made the experience fun and painless!
Hualing / January 19, 2014 at 02:50 pm
I bought my beautifuls wedding shoes here. They were my something blue. I received so many compliments and the shop women were right, they were so comfortable that I could dance all night. Thank you Imelda's! I love your shop! I'm coming back soon.
Erin / April 15, 2014 at 01:54 pm
Don't go to Imelda if expect to be treated politely, or even semi-respectfully. They have great merchandise but the owner is on a complete power trip and isn't at all concerned with customer feedback. "Well, it's my store so I can do things the way I want," she said rudely. She's right, but that doesn't make it okay to treat people as she does.
Liz / April 29, 2014 at 08:06 am
I'm new to Toronto and I'm thrilled to be living in Roncesvalles. What a great vibe! Love the shops, fruit stands, bars and restaurants. And the other day I found Imelda Shoes and it made my heart sing. I'm in heaven!! INCREDIBLE SHOES!! Cool styles, cool colors. Dare I say even better than NYC? I left with three pairs all made in Europe. The women who work there are very knowledgeable about the merchandise and they are so friendly. Such a relief from the stuffy salespeople in New York who don't even say hello. The weekend gets pretty busy there so I suggest going on a weekday when strollers won't run over your feet. ;)
Marisol / May 3, 2014 at 09:42 pm
I'm visit from Spain and they have Spanish shoes!! I can't even find in mine country! I buy one pair and I love them. Muy bonita! Gracias Imelda! Gracias Toronto!
w-hat / May 8, 2014 at 10:09 pm
Bought my girlfriend a sick pair of shoes here. Super hot. They should sell guy shoes. Total fail that they don't. I would buy them all. Italians make the best shoes. Everybody knows that.
Sandra T / May 20, 2014 at 10:05 pm
I want to buy everything in this store. I need mo' money honey. I love shoes!
Anya C replying to a comment from V / September 6, 2014 at 03:34 pm
Terrible customer service and very inconvenient and unfair return and exchange policies! As a returning customer who spent hundreds of $$$ in one go at this store before I expected a fare treatment. Came back to buy shoes for my mom but was not sure of they would fit. No return or exchange for a different size policy. Unbelievable! Very rude owner who does not listen to customers, does not accommodate and does not give store credit. Won't be back!
Amee replying to a comment from Anya C / September 6, 2014 at 08:55 pm
Hi Anya,
We have a strict store policy and we don't allow refunds on discounted merchandise. It's been the same policy since we opened over five years ago. The shoes you wanted to buy were on sale, therefore they are final sale. If they weren't on sale you would most definitely be able to exchange them or get a store credit as long as it's within 14 days and providing you have the original packaging and receipt. Most small businesses have the same policy, it's not uncommon. I tried to explain this to you several times in between you yelling at me. It's unfortunate you still don't understand. We have to be fair to all of our customers and we don't pick and choose who has to follow the policy and who can avoid it. It doesn't matter if you've spent hundreds of dollars or zero dollars, our policy is clearly stated that there are no refunds and all sale merchandise is final. It's really quite simple. I find it unfortunate that you think not getting your way equals terrible customer service. I understand that you won't be coming back and I think that's the best solution for everyone.
Have a great day!
Lisa replying to a comment from Amee / September 20, 2014 at 12:56 am
I live in Roncesvalles and often wander into Imelda post Cherry Bomb, pre green grocer. From my first visit, the customer service at Imelda has been dismissive and entitled, but the shoes are great, so I continued to shop there (and at their sister store, Frock). After a friend and I had a particularly bad experience a few weeks ago, I turned to the interwebs to see if we were alone in our experience. Turns out we're not (with the online response to people's experiences being particularly perplexing). Neighbourhood stores need to be friendly for their neighbours to return. There are many more options are moving into the 'hood, and me and my friends will be taking our business elsewhere.

Amee replying to a comment from Lisa / September 20, 2014 at 01:55 am
Sorry you feel that way Lisa. Thank you for your comments. And thanks so much for thinking our shoes are great.
Take care,
Roo / November 18, 2014 at 04:00 pm
The customer service at Imelda is awful. Staff are ill humoured, disengaged and resentful. I have spent good money in there over the past few years but I will never go back even though I really like a lot of the shoes and can walk there from home. I hope the next business venture these guys embark on doesn't require any customer service, Imelda is unlikely to survive with staff and management as it is.
Roo / November 18, 2014 at 04:16 pm
Dear Imelda Fan,

It's a pretty telling sign when a website is full of polar extreme reviews. Unfortunately glowing reviews from friends, relatives, staff and owners hiding behind internet anonymity aren't going to move the shoes you need to sell to stay afloat. I never write on line reviews, but the very real and particularly bad customer service experiences I have had at Imelda have motivated me to do so.
Abigail / November 20, 2014 at 03:55 pm
I've been shopping at Imelda for 3 years now since we moved here from Vancouver and I was so delighted to find this store. I find the selection of styles to be the best I've found anywhere. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and I've never found the sales staff to be anything but friendly, kind and super helpful!! It's so wonderful to have such a great independent shopping strip and this store in particular in my neighbourhood!
Simon / November 21, 2014 at 11:30 pm
As a neighbourhood regular, and an occasional customer, I know Imelda and its staff to be well-regarded and deserving of their good reputation. It's unfortunate that the age of the internet, for all its benefits, also serves to provide bitter, spiteful individuals a consequence-free place to trash businesses that have the temerity not to indulge their entitlement and tantrums.

This shop has prospered for years because it is an excellent place to buy shoes and the staff really are very pleasant, competent people. That's all you need to know.
TD / July 24, 2015 at 02:26 pm
I have been to Imelda a few times now and based on my last experience I will not be going back. I recently bough a pair of sandals that were $30 off their $145 original price. They were a size smaller than I usually wear, (they did not have my usual size). I was a bit unsure, but the sale assistant assured me that they were just right and that this particular sandal tended to run a bit big. I trusted her expertise and got them. When I got home I tried them on some more. Although they JUST fit it was clear that the size up would be better as there was no extra room in case my foot expanded (after walking a few hours). Now I have returned a pair of sandals here once before to get store credit, so I assumed it would be the same with the sale sandals. There is a sign behind the register that states no refunds, only store credit or exchange. I did not see anything on that sign about sale items being final sale. Whats more, neither of the sales assistants verbally alerted me that the sandals would be final sale. When I looked at the receipt two days later when I wanted to return it (unworn, with original box and receipt), it stated at the bottom that discounted items are final sale.NO EXCEPTIONS. I called the store and they confirmed this. I wish the sales assistance had mentioned they were final sale before I purchased, especially as I was clearly a bit unsure about them. I felt deceived by their service and will not be going back.

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