Simon Carter, a UK-based label, has been a menswear competitor in Toronto for 2.5 years, but did you know that its Queen St West location is the only store in Canada?
The store layout is fairly generic, looking more like a one stop shop for father's day than an all-purpose menswear vendor. It's easy to be fooled by a gingham shirt, embroidered with paisley-pattern stitching (it looks like it should be in a Le Chateau showroom), but Simon Carter offers plenty for the modern dandy.
Classic french-cuffed shirts ($125 - $195) make up the majority of Simon Carter's sales and they are available in indigo, blush, white, herringbone and pinstripe. Paired with what seems like an unending supply of cufflinks, it's easy to see why Simon Carter sells these essentials so well.
Swarovski crystal encrusted cufflinks cover the animal kingdom from domestic poodle to wild seahorse, but seem too Liberace-inspired to be wearable. However, silver hearts and more minimal shapes offer a modern appeal ($75-$140 per pair). My favourite pair was a set of anchors, perfect for summer.
A novel piece is a summer shirt, complete with a print of mustachioed swimmers ($195), which is well-suited for any gent rocking the 'stache this summer.
Simon Carter is a top to bottom retailer, offering every piece you'll need to have a finished outfit. Nautical-inspired watches range from $185-$455 and if timepiece accessorizing is something you cannot do without, Simon Carter may be hard to shake. Their watches are simple, but look expensive without being too pricey -- faces are easy to read, well-polished and simplistic to complete an effortless summer ensemble.
Simon Carter isn't marvelous, but it isn't too shabby either. Suiting is inexpensive (in the $500s), shirts are well made, but select styles show some missteps, like a marine brocade paisley blazer ($550) or the earlier mentioned gingham paisley shirt (which, should never be worn by anyone).
You will not love everything in the Queen St. West store, but you will find something to cherish, because Simon Carter specializes in key timeless pieces that will update any man from schlub to sartorialist (or something like it).
Writing by Kevin Naulls. Photos by Jason Tavares.