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Fashion Stores

Jonathan + Olivia

Posted by Briony / Posted on December 5, 2008

Jonathan & Olivia TorontoChristmas came early this year for me.

Each year, when I wing my way back to Vancouver for the holidays, I make sure to set aside an afternoon to visit my one of my favourite stores in the country, Jonathan + Olivia.

The store is pretty much perfect: an impeccably edited selection, excellent service, and chic decor.

This year, I don't have to wait for my trip home to enjoy the top-notch retail experience Jonathan + Olivia has to offer, because since this summer the store has a new Toronto location, situated on the east side of Ossington north of Queen Street West.

Owner Jackie O'Brien joined the ranks here as, she said, "Ossington Avenue in the West Queen West part of Toronto felt very similar to the Mount Pleasant (SOMA) area Jonathan + Olivia is located in Vancouver, surrounded by art galleries, new restaurants and furniture stores. I'm excited to be a part of this new community."

Jonathan & Olivia Toronto

Full disclosure: I much prefer the original location. Its warm woods and smaller space give off a more welcoming vibe than the sterile-feeling stark-white environment of the new location, where the prices also seem higher.

Even so, Jonathan + Olivia still brings something special to the Toronto retail scene. Like the recently opened Fawn just across the park, the clothes here are the perfect mix of femme and edge: there's plenty of neutrals, but the detailing, draping, and occasional wacky pattern or texture of the pieces make for clothing that looks on-point for now, but can live for a lifetime in your wardrobe as a well-loved classic.

Such longevity comes at a price: the prices range from at least $100 to over $1000. But, while my two gray cashmere Vince sweaters (along with a raw cream silk Vanessa Bruno Athe top) I bought at Jonathan + Olivia may have been a small investment up-front, they are two of my staples, definitely getting enough wears to justify a little more coin.

The Toronto location follows the current trend of a gallery-like space, with racks lining the walls, and Rachel Comey shoes and denim from Cheap Monday, Superfine, Earnest Sewn, and Acne artfully arranged on an island in the middle of the store. This makes browsing a little more time-consuming, but there be riches here.

CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner Alexander Wang is a new addition to the Jonathan + Olivia line-up for the Toronto location (as is APC), joining Sweden's Hope and Whyred; Justice + Surface to Air and Les Prairies de Paris from Paris; and Pamela Love out of New York City.

Jonathan & Olivia Ossington

The pieces here all have an effortless cool about them, like Tsumori Christo sweater dresses ($560), coral silk Whyred tunics ($325), slate-blue Preen sweater dress with black lace peeking out at the hem ($675), plaid frocks from Isabel Marant ($550), and Alexander Wang's black silk and gray flannel shift ($750) and black tank-dress with chain snaking around the neckline ($435).

Much of the clothes here can elevate an outfit instantly, like a wooly black Praires de Paris cardigan with gold buttons stuck on askew ($525), a sharp Surface to Air pinstriped blazer that buttons at the bottom ($550), or a red wool APC cape ($525).

The shoe and jewelry sections are a little bland, but the clothing selection well make up for it, what with the Maria Cornejo, Opening Ceremony, Chronicles of Never, and Mike & Chris on offer, too.

Menfolk are covered as well: they can pick up Oliver Spencer wool pants ($320), sturdy Hope jackets ($799), cool cardigans from Hyden Yoo ($255), Engineered Garment sweater jackets ($465), and military-styled peacoats from Helmut Lang ($850).

It may not be the Jonathan + Olivia closest to my heart, but I'm glad there's one closer to home.



Dave / December 5, 2008 at 10:50 am
I'm curious...would you recommend this place for guys? I'm lookin for a good pair of new jeans...
Michelle / December 5, 2008 at 11:00 am
They have the cutest French Bulldog there, too!

And to Dave, yes, they have great jeans for guys, too.
Briony replying to a comment from Dave / December 5, 2008 at 11:57 am
I'd definitely recommend this store to anyone (well, maybe not starving students, as the clothing lust would be too painful!).

Their men's section is excellent (not sure about the denim), with really lovely outerwear especially, and nice, unique sweaters.

And, if the store is similar to the Vancouver locale, they do have sales with more down-to-earth prices, and carry wallet-friendly Cheap Mondays and other not-insanely-expensive jeans.

Happy hunting!
Louisa / December 5, 2008 at 03:13 pm
I love this store... as a Vancouverite turned Torontonian- I love that each store has a different vibe- though prices in Vancouver are less painful(& SOMA in Van is my stomping grounds when West).

The ossington store is more of a go-see store, but a great place to grab cheap mondays... my current staple..& they have decent sales..any excuse to get closer to pizza libretto is fine with me!

The staff, are darling, and great to talk to as well..

Briony knows where its at!
Guy Lafleur / December 5, 2008 at 05:29 pm
prices like that in an economy like this? yeesh. give em a year?
johnj / December 6, 2008 at 12:16 am
They seem to carry a lot of quality lines but they chose the wrong location to sell $700 dresses. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!
nkwu / December 7, 2008 at 03:30 pm
APC huh?

does anyone have an idea how much APC denim costs compared to other spots in the city?

APC guy / December 17, 2008 at 03:01 pm
To nkwu :

Are you referring to APC denim for men? If so, It's standard pricing for all locations (unless there's a special sale going on)
Japan Made Jeans Lover / May 20, 2009 at 01:38 pm
Great appreciation to anyone who can recommend any place in Toronto for PRPS (purpose) men's line jeans or any other Japan made quality denim..
Guy Lafleur / February 2, 2010 at 08:57 pm
I was pretty close on my prediction earlier in this thread. The Vancouver store shut down at the end of January. Considering Vancouver's economy is healthier than Toronto's it's my guess this one won't last long either. They're out of touch with the market. As the saying goes, "Loyalty is the absence of a better priced alternative".
John Cohen / June 11, 2010 at 03:12 am
Owner is super pretentious and has the most off-putting personality. She acts as if Toronto should put her in a pedestal for opening up the store. I was completely turned off in a conversation I had with her; will definitely never shop there again!
lakely / June 25, 2010 at 09:59 am
That is funny you say that about the owner, Jackie O'Brien. Knew her from Kitchener where she grew up. She hasn't changed. Sorry about your experience.
james / October 7, 2010 at 11:17 pm
Rude staff and overpriced. Everything they have can be purchased cheaper somewhere else and without the attitude.
james / October 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm
Rude staff and overpriced. Everything they have can be purchased cheaper somewhere else and without the attitude.
Jakob / February 2, 2011 at 02:45 am
I was there once and bought a rather pricey but decent pair of shorts. She was actually really friendly, and the selection seemed to be pretty good (if you're in the mood of spending a bit more).
Roberta / March 9, 2013 at 06:35 pm
How do men feel about anti aging products for men? If it were to be subtle changes in the way you look where you look better but people can’t put their finger on how, would you consider it? Is looking good important to you? Is 500-1000 k too much every 6 months on over all maintenance? Is anonymity important to you? Would you prefer someone to come to you rather than a salon or store?

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