10 fashion boutiques in Toronto east of the DVP
Toronto's east end fashion stores tend to fall under the radar compared to those in the west. Admittedly, Dundas West and West Queen West seem to be the go-to spot of the masses when looking for new independent design, but the Queen streetcar does, indeed, run the other way! There are plenty of fashion destinations in Leslieville with their spring and summer styles already in bloom, as well as the odd Danforth shop where you can find a great skirt between spanakopita stops. If you're looking to replenish your spring/summer wardrobe, you might want to head to some of these boutiques over on the east side.
Nathalie Roze and Co.
Nathalie Roze has never much been afraid of colour, though in anticipation of summer, she's amped it up. Browsing around the store, I find awesome upcycled bike cuffs made from printed ties ($38), which would be utterly useless if you intend to ride in one of the shop's Dear Pony organic cotton and bamboo spandex dresses ($109). My favourite item is a notebook made from an upcycled record, which has absolutely nothing to do with summer ($26). Vintage "frocks" are currently 20% off.
Doll Factory by Damzels
Ah, if only this place was around back during my angsty days of fervent prom dress shopping. The horror — I had to resort to Ebay. Privileged teens of now might find great cocktail-length Mad Men-esque (with a little rockabilly) dresses at Doll Factory, including a full circle black wrap dress with gold embroidery ($90) and a Pink Martini navy and mustard scoop neck frock ($70). Lots of fasteners and headpieces with which to accessorize, and a Golden Girls mousepad ($18) just because.
Thrill of the Find
If quality designer pieces are what you're after for the summer, few do it better than Thrill of the Find. You can pretty much count on finding some spectacular items in stock on any given day, and my drop-by visit certainly delivered just that. Beyond the Gucci sandals ($160) and Missoni silk jersey dress ($315) displayed in the front window, I found an Alberta Ferretti floor-length ivory gown ($495), a strapless purple Betsey Johnson ($135), and a tailored full circle skirt in a Carolina blue. Owner Mireille Watson knows how to find them.
Gadabout is another contender in the vintage prom category. You can find everything you need here — and that is by no means an exaggeration. On my brief visit (there never seems to be enough time at a place as packed as Gadabout) I spotted a cutesy white and peach polka dot frock ($75), a fuschia cropped cocktail number ($85), and a whole collection of vintage lighters, each for about $15. After checking out the drawers of vintage cufflinks, broaches, and jewellery, I decided that my throwback attempt at prom was an utter failure.
Any Direct Flight
What's new for spring? Well, it's Any Direct Flight's own in-store cafe, of course (which actually opened a few months ago, but who's counting?). To go along with those capps and lattes are plenty of florals and structured skirts, including a Terra Cotta printed dress ($165), and breezy mustard Any Direct Flight blouse ($78). The shop also seems to have the latest in El Naturalista footwear including its "Arona" closed toe lace-ups and several cork oak wedges.
Might as well segue to shoes on that note, which should merit a trip a few blocks north. Balisi is affixing its new summer signage when I stop by, enticing walkers-by to come in and check out its teal Bethanyy Steve Maddens or orange Cocci strappy sandals ($80). The shoes are lovely, yes, but I'm taken with Balisi's small summer clothing collection, which includes floor-length Pink Martini flowy dresses ($65) and a great mustard (I'm noticing a theme...) pleated skirt. Several El Naturalista options here, too.
If you're looking for anything soft, floral or flowy, you'll probably find it at Tabula Rasa. Prime examples are its Gentle Fawn "Scarlett" dress in cream ($125) and its Religion shredded, v-neck tee ($110). Tabula Rasa is also a good spot for basics such as striped tees and skinny jeans, though you should probably expect to pay a little more than just a "basic" price.
Jeans at Studio We! are now incredibly low (in price, not necessarily in rise), at $34.59 for a pair of Sixty Nines. While shoppers aren't necessarily in the market for long dark denim as the thermostat rises, there's always the option (especially at that price) of cutting them off at the thigh à la Tobias Fünke. Just think about it. Of course, if you prefer not to mangle your clothing, there are plenty of other options that are now at 50% off as part of the spring sale at Studio We!.
Sharing that aforementioned 50% off sale, Me! extends the discount to select pieces of its men's collection. Needless to say, I can instantly tell that plaids are in with rows of J.A.C.H.S. woven plaid shirts (both long and short sleeves) greeting me as I enter. The shop also has the new line of Swamisz eco-friendly sandals in from Australia; a type of "flop-free" flip-flop with a toe peg instead of of a Y-strap ($39).
Bergstrom Originals is certainty towing the floral line this spring; it seems the trend has "blossomed" this collection (unlike my unsuccessful pun attempts). The Toronto-designed, Toronto-made clothes are also sporting a vintage edge, especially in the pleated, printed "Odette Dress" ($256) and floral, 3/4 sleeve tunics ($148) now on sale. For a more dramatic evening statement, the airy printed maxi dresses are probably the way to go ($238); through make sure to lift when trolling through Toronto's cigarette-butt-laden roads.
A new arrival on the Danforth and brimming with Birds of America for summer. My favourite pieces are an earthly green vintage-inspired "Francolin" dress with a cutout back ($180) and a pocketed high-waisted knee-length skirt ($140). The front of the shop is brimming with graphic tees, such as its ostentatious "Femme Fatale" electric pink and white shirt ($29), whereas the back is where you'll find summer flats including a sparkly pair of black Betsey Johnson's ($80).