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Fashion & Style

10 stores that should open a location in Toronto

Posted by Natalia Manzocco / January 23, 2014

uniqlo toronto locationHere in Toronto, we've become pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping. Our years of cross-border envy have been soothed by dozens of U.S. and global retailers often making Toronto their first stop in Canadian expansion. We've racked up locations for Anthropologie, Loft, Intermix, J. Crew and Kate Spade in recent years -- and there's a shiny new Nordstrom in the Eaton Centre's Sears space to look forward to. (To say nothing of Toronto's huge wealth of awesome local retailers!)

We may have it good, but of course, we're never truly satisfied. I've rounded up 10 stores I'm still praying to see pop up on our home turf. Until then, I'll be saving space on my credit card...and waiting.

We've got plenty of fast-fashion options to choose from here in Toronto, but for many, Uniqlo has become a great white whale, an ever-unreachable (at least, until you go to NYC on vacation) mecca of multicoloured khakis and inexpensive merino sweaters. Canadians have been asking for years when the Japanese chain will move north; last spring, rumours swirled that Hudson's Bay was inking a deal to distribute their products, but all's been quiet on that front since then.

Back in 2011, Kate Middleton and Prince William released their engagement photos, and the fashion world immediately went ballistic over Kate's cream-coloured 3/4-sleeve dress. That little ruffled number quickly proved to be the biggest sale this U.K.-based clothing chain ever made; it put them on the map globally, but Reiss had been a favourite of sharp-dressed Brits for years. Currently, Canadians after their elegant cocktail dresses and sharply tailored separates have to order online.

Many North American fashionistas aren't even aware that H&M has an upscale sister brand. But if you've ever picked up a British fashion magazine, you've likely been exposed to Cos and its sleek, minimal, fashion-forward aesthetic. Items clock in between $100 and $300 -- not exactly H&M pricing, but far more reasonable than the Celine and Jil Sander designs the brand hopes to emulate. A New York location is set to open in Soho this spring. With any luck, a Toronto location can't be that far behind. (Then again, that's what we've been saying about Uniqlo all these years).

J. Crew is slowly taking over T.O., with a third location set to pop up on Bloor this spring. Not so for the the chain's kid-sister store, Madewell -- though they ship their adorably vintage-inspired weekend basics cross-border, they've yet to set up shop in Canada. (And when they do: Look out, Urban Outfitters).

DSW (Discount Shoe Warehouse)
No, it's not the same as The Shoe Company. Imagine a huge store -- the size of a Winners or Marshalls -- stocked with nothing but significantly marked-down brand-name kicks. Canadians could probably find the same pieces on their home turf with some careful digging, but the treasure-hunting opportunities at a well-stocked DSW are massive.

Where Uniqlo is cheap and cheerful, Muji is cheap and very, very serious. The clothing is all neutral, and the housewares -- the Japanese brand's claim to fame -- come in black, white, and various shades of wood varnish. It may seem like a stark aesthetic, until you inevitably give in to the store's organizational pull and buy a million minimalist wood bins and caddies for all your clutter. Canadians can shop at their online store, but there are no brick-and-mortar locations north of the border.

See Eyewear
Toronto is spoiled for fantastic places to buy eyewear already, but you'll likely still want a pair of each of their bold, kitschy plastic frames. (And with lenses included, you could probably snag a couple of them.)

Opening Ceremony
The Brooklyn-based clothing company is synonymous with oddball cool - check their collaboration with perennial It girl Chloe Sevigny for proof. Their own designs share shelf space with pieces by Rodarte and Proenza Schouler in their boutiques, all of which sounds pretty good to me. In case that Toronto location never happens, Canadians can find OC pieces on SSENSE

Currently, the jewelry company single-handedly responsible for making thin knuckle-height rings into a fashion craze has only one store (in their native Williamsburg, Brooklyn). But if they ever decide to expand, we think their mix of sweetly minimalist jewelry and gifts would fit right in on, say, Roncesvalles. You can still find a few of their pieces here in town at Easy Tiger and A2Zane.

Trader Joe's
No, it's not a clothing or design store, but Canadians have been driven as far as piracy in order to get their fix of this U.S. grocery chain's wares. Cult favourites include pumpkin butter, chocolate-covered potato chips, and this writer's personal favourite, their lemon pepper fettucine. Mmm.

What stores do you think Toronto is missing? Add your suggestions in the comments.

Photo of Uniqlo



Kid Cornish / January 23, 2014 at 11:29 am
There should be a Simons in Toronto. They are Canadian after-all.
ME LIKEY / January 23, 2014 at 11:45 am

Muji also good.
jen / January 23, 2014 at 11:46 am
Really? There's no need for fast fashion. Support the local economy and Toronto designers. End of story.
mar / January 23, 2014 at 11:51 am
I'd like to see an only. or supreme open here.
ysim / January 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm
I second Muji.

Also, Mos Burger would be awesome.
Spike replying to a comment from ysim / January 23, 2014 at 12:18 pm
What the heck is Mos Burger?
Sherry Smyth / January 23, 2014 at 12:19 pm
Yes to Trader Joe's!
Andrew / January 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm
YES. Uniqlo is a must!!
amy / January 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm
Problem is.. when US stores land's not the same.

Whether it's the prices or the variety - it loses something in translation.

Vic Secrets is just a bigger version of La Senza. Target inventory isn't the same either (although a better alternative to going into Walmart).

Yankee Liberty / January 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm
Stacey / January 23, 2014 at 01:12 pm
Bloomingdales! Conran! Tip Tops! John Lewis!
CL replying to a comment from Kid Cornish / January 23, 2014 at 01:13 pm
i really would like to see Uniqlo here in Toronto as well as DSW and Trader Joe's. I think Macy's would be preferable to replace Sears in the Eaton Centre.

Kid, Simon's will be at Square one in 2016:
Mayari / January 23, 2014 at 01:17 pm
All this list did was make me sad that I can't access these stores easily here.
Cara / January 23, 2014 at 01:17 pm
YES to Simons. I love love love shopping trips to Quebec for this reason.
Fernando / January 23, 2014 at 01:20 pm
This is a chance for Canadian designers to have thier products sold through other retailers. John A get off your ass and move up to butt fuck nowhere if you dont like it!

Just because something is on TV you dont have to watch it - change the channel. You dont have to go into retailers you dont like John A you nanny state jerk off!!
W. K. Lis / January 23, 2014 at 01:25 pm
With the ethnic customers, I can see non-NA and non-British stores getting a toehold into Toronto.
Welshgrrl / January 23, 2014 at 01:34 pm
I would love to see Marks & Spencer back in Toronto (at least the food retail part).
mike replying to a comment from Kid Cornish / January 23, 2014 at 01:40 pm
There will be a Simons shortly.
Rob replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / January 23, 2014 at 01:48 pm
In which decade do you live?
cathie / January 23, 2014 at 01:49 pm
A big yes to Marks and Spencer. I so miss the food, especially the Christmas items. And their prepared food was good as well.
Kid Cornish replying to a comment from CL / January 23, 2014 at 02:40 pm
Well, that's good news. Thanks for the info!
Dan / January 23, 2014 at 03:18 pm
I would give up a vital organ for a Trader Joe's in TO.
David C / January 23, 2014 at 03:25 pm
Marks & Spencer food section. (Again, but more of it this time!)
Eva / January 23, 2014 at 03:46 pm
After living in NYC for half a year, I couldn't agree more with this list - especially Trader Joe's!! Such great prices and a lot of organic options.
Blau / January 23, 2014 at 03:47 pm
Thelma / January 23, 2014 at 03:48 pm
I would love to see a L.L. Bean store in Toronto.
Angela Cheyne / January 23, 2014 at 03:48 pm
In n out burger, Asos, and definitely Trader Joes...or at least open more Whole Foods locations
Josh / January 23, 2014 at 03:50 pm
Warby Parker!
Maurey / January 23, 2014 at 03:51 pm
- Custo
- Zadig & Voltaire
- Superdry
- Desigual
Elena / January 23, 2014 at 03:53 pm
I think we need AKIRA.
GM / January 23, 2014 at 03:58 pm
Yes to Uniqlo and TJs!

Would also loooove Marks and Spencer. Maybe Dorothy Perkins and Miss Selfridge too. And Primark!
Julian / January 23, 2014 at 03:59 pm
I second the Warby Parker vote!
Ally replying to a comment from jen / January 23, 2014 at 04:00 pm
That'd be the ideal goal if everyone could afford local talent at fast fashion prices, but we all know that's not realistic right now. So I vote for the ideal or Primark.
TM / January 23, 2014 at 04:03 pm
I LOVE Uniqlo. But no, keep it in NYC.
a / January 23, 2014 at 04:03 pm
Jan replying to a comment from Welshgrrl / January 23, 2014 at 04:15 pm
Yes to M&S Food but the last stuff was overpriced and not too representative.
I'd go for a Tesco or Sainsburys! (With online shopping, please.) I'd go for any decent grocery store - so yes to Trader Joe's too.
d / January 23, 2014 at 04:18 pm
Wow. I really missed the shopping gene, because I just don't care.
BLAST / January 23, 2014 at 04:40 pm
Burlington Coat Factory...Yes Please!!
Mr. A replying to a comment from Stephin / January 23, 2014 at 04:41 pm
What does it matter to you? I just don't think that we need more foreign chains here, that's all. Most of them don't even succeed anyway (AMC and Krispy Kreme being the biggest failures.) What makes you think that half of these will even succeed here in Canada against our home-grown chains?
Mr. A replying to a comment from d / January 23, 2014 at 04:41 pm
Don't blame you.
Jeremy / January 23, 2014 at 04:45 pm
Sarah / January 23, 2014 at 04:48 pm
Disappointed to see a blog exclusively focused on Toronto make such a stink about stores from everywhere but. When we buy local, even if not everything in the store is local, our $$ stays here. Chain stores tend not to reinvest in community, cash flows out. Come on, really?
Lex / January 23, 2014 at 05:10 pm
I want a Solar City showroom. Nevermind all this US chain retail stuff. Madewell, Target, whatever.. Lets start buying good energy.
Elle Em / January 23, 2014 at 05:22 pm
Yes yes yes please to Trader Joe's!
Jess / January 23, 2014 at 05:22 pm
Yes, definitely Trader Joes and Madewell! They should also open a Whole Foods in the King West.
Fernando / January 23, 2014 at 05:37 pm
This is a chance for Canadian designers to have thier products sold through other retailers. John A get off your ass and move up to butt fuck nowhere if you dont like it!

Just because something is on TV you dont have to watch it - change the channel. You dont have to go into retailers you dont like John A you nanny state jerk off!!
Sandra / January 23, 2014 at 05:41 pm
I want to buy my made in China and made in USA goods at Canadian retailers
Natasha / January 23, 2014 at 06:00 pm
I have always hoped that Simons would open a location in Toronto.
Donnie / January 23, 2014 at 06:01 pm
So take a beloved Canadian retailer like Joe Fresh the clothes arent even manufactured in Canada, and why should they be opening stores in the US?

Another one is Lululemon. Clothing is manufactured overseas not in Canada. They would not be considered an international success if they were Canadian only and didnt have stores internationally.

Why should we protect these Canadian retailers when they cant even do the manufacturing here? They want you to shop with them so they can reap the profits and guess what SEND YOUR MONEY OVERSEAS for manufacturing.

Roots is Canadian made but also has stores in the USA and Asia. Why should we not allow foriegn retailers when our own retailers are the foriegn ones opening up elsewhere?
Aubrey / January 23, 2014 at 06:09 pm
Oak! Pleeeeeeease
Stonr / January 23, 2014 at 06:11 pm
Dunkin Donuts would be awesome, although thats my fav part about going to the US
brendan / January 23, 2014 at 06:34 pm
I'd love to see brands like A.P.C, Barbour and Filson open up boutique style retail spaces here.
g / January 23, 2014 at 06:55 pm
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, the state of movie theatres in the city has gone really downhill in the last few years. Alamo would be a welcome addition.
Chester Pape / January 23, 2014 at 07:18 pm
Yes Simons is coming, in 2016

in Missisauga (Square One)

So hold your breath for two more years

Geoff / January 23, 2014 at 07:31 pm
A Playboy store would be cool. I've been to one in the US and one in the UK.
Dan / January 23, 2014 at 08:12 pm
Sears Holdings USA!
SkyPilot / January 23, 2014 at 08:19 pm
Wegmans, Unclaimed Freight Furniture store, and CVS
Roster / January 23, 2014 at 09:12 pm
Athleta. So great.
Holy Thundering Jesus / January 23, 2014 at 10:44 pm
Rosa's Fine Furniture! From Townawanda NY! BAM!
Robyn replying to a comment from Donnie / January 23, 2014 at 11:18 pm
Hey Donnie! I work in the fashion biz and hear what you're saying. Just an FYI, most of Roots' products are made right here in Toronto by WS & Co. ( In fact, many companies like Holts, Muskoka Bear Wear, Preloved, etc. are made here. Would love to see more focus on the factories keeping Canadian fashion alive.
NativeTorontonianAl replying to a comment from jen / January 23, 2014 at 11:26 pm
A very true comment. Toronto still doesn't have much in terms of an actual identity or element that we're known for that really ours or close to being original (we most likely did or were close but it was probably erased with time), so having independent clothing stores in great numbers would create a type of culture and identity, and perhaps with this becoming a normal here, there would be more choices in price ranges. Most of all, local business and economy would gain because people would be shopping at these places simply because of it being the norm. Then it would trickle into the visitor-shopping factor, which means more boost for our local businesses and economy, and then word would get around with our local stores and fashion, and then besides the food element, local fashion would be an attraction too.
Donnie / January 24, 2014 at 12:09 am
Hey Robyn, thanks for clarifying. I was aware that Roots is Canadian made which is why I put them after my rant about the other companies. Either way, it would be great to see more manufacturing coming back to Canada. Canadian retailers should be aware that in current times the manufacturing location can be a big plus in brand awareness and is no longer looked at as just pure manufacturing costs and profit. Its also can be viewed as marketing, sustainability and branding advantage.
Yankee Liberty / January 24, 2014 at 07:02 am
Yes, those who mentioned dunkin doughnuts know what's up! Way better than Tim Hortons. Sorry Canada.
Miku / January 24, 2014 at 08:51 am
Inventory Magazine Vancouver
serena / January 24, 2014 at 09:03 pm
Shack Shack and a CCO (The Cosmetics Company)
Teri / January 24, 2014 at 11:51 pm
They should totally open a Daiso!!! It's kind of like an Asian dollar store - I went to one in Singapore and I literally bought lots of stuff!!
Abc / January 28, 2014 at 06:13 am
Daiso, Uniqlo, Trader Joe's, Simons and Dash!
Rob / January 28, 2014 at 06:01 pm
I've never quite "got" the mad love for Trader Joe's. I've visited it several times when in the states. It's a nice store, and they have some unique products, but at the end of the day, it's still just a grocery store. Maybe the store I visited isn't representative?
Spike replying to a comment from Jeremy / January 30, 2014 at 01:10 pm
Dunkin Donuts were here in Canada a long tome ago, but couldn't hack it and split, just like Krispy Kreme.
Spike replying to a comment from g / January 30, 2014 at 01:12 pm
Ain't gonna happen, Almo Drafthouse is a local chain in Texas, and wants to stay that way. Besides, where are they going to build a theater? And how would they take over the single-screen theaters we have here in Toronto now?
Spike replying to a comment from Sarah / January 30, 2014 at 01:14 pm
You said it, sister.
Sandra / July 18, 2014 at 10:06 am
Just came back from Lisbon; Pull & Bear!
kelvin / August 29, 2014 at 04:22 pm
hope to see Jack Wills, Bershka, Kanken, Chocoolate, Muji, MCM, School Food can open in toronto
Maple replying to a comment from Kid Cornish / October 31, 2014 at 10:41 am
Simons will be opening in Square One mall, MIssissauga. I think it is some time in 2016.
Maple / October 31, 2014 at 10:44 am
I echo Daiso!! Also, I'd love to see Marks & Spencer store. I heard it was once open here in Toronto? Why did they close???? Please bring it back.
JJ / November 18, 2014 at 11:34 pm
ASOS... affordable & stylish with decent quality for the price.

Especially for suits! We lack in options for decent suits in "Turunno" that aren't grossly overpriced.
Lisa / February 10, 2015 at 07:44 pm
I heard from a reliable source that Madewell is opening this year in Toronto. No one is more excited than me.I discovered it in Miami and have been shopping on line ever since.I pray it opens on Bloor Street and not in a mall!.Also bring back the Ralph Lauren store that used to be in Hazelton Lanes
Spencer / February 28, 2015 at 12:10 am
I second M&S! When I was little, my parents used to treat me to their cheese crackers if I was well-behaved. The last time I went to London in Jan '14, I stocked up (we're talking 10 boxes...) but now they ran out.

I also think Toronto should have a & Other Stories store. It is like F21, but it's owned by H&M. They also sell bath and body products, and I love their Carnival Couture products.
Spencer replying to a comment from Teri / February 28, 2015 at 12:12 am
They have something similar at Pacific Mall called Ichiban Living (parking level, 2-story store) which sells Japanese products at the price of $2.
Toronto Joe / October 11, 2015 at 06:56 am
We stock some popular Trader Joe's products in Toronto. Look us up -!
Other Cities: Montreal