10 stores that should open a location in Toronto
Here 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.
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.)
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.
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