10 under-the-radar vintage clothing shops in Toronto
Toronto is a fabulous city for vintage shopping. We've got swaths of stores on Ossington and in Kensington Market, multi-store chains like 69 Vintage, and even secondhand mega-marts like Black Market. That rich vintage scene also means plenty of lesser-known or underrated gems, each of which are worthy of a visit.
Some are obscure just due to being new on the scene, while others are hidden away in spots with less foot traffic or TTC service. But they all have something to offer, whether that's a selection that hasn't been picked over by bargain-hunting shoppers, lower prices, or (of course) the bragging rights that come from having an awesome secret vintage source.
Here are 10 great under-the-radar vintage clothing shops in Toronto.
Print's been in the same tiny space on College for over 15 years, yet folks still wander in off the street and ask if the store is brand-new. It's like falling into a walk-in closet stuffed with fantastic vintage, from full-skirted, wasp-waisted dresses to mod '60s coats to heavy jackets coated in hand-sewn sequins and beads. Prices hover at around $40 to $80 for non-super-rare pieces.
Thrill of the Find
This Leslieville vintage spot is accurately named; Owner Mireille Watson stocks the store with a host of vintage pieces from illustrious fashion houses like Chanel, Hermes, Chloe and Prada, as well as numerous no-name finds. Watson keeps the best pieces in the back room, but she may let you check them out if you ask nicely; she's also known for having a knack for giving you the once-over and handing you a vintage piece that fits perfectly.
You will definitely want to work on Maggie's Farm, a Roncesvalles repository of clothing, shoes, accessories and housewares. (Look for the "Holy Land Food and Video" sign.) When I visited recently, nothing -- from the leather pants to the vintage heels to the wool coats -- rang in at over $50.
Previously located in the basement of Queen St. vintage fairyland Cabaret, Kingpin is still tucked out of sight in its new home on Mercer St. The "gentlemenswear" store, as owner Jonathan Hagey calls it, is filled to the brim (in this case, the brim of a very dapper felt hat) with vintage pieces like python leather shoes and uniform jackets. Prices aren't terribly cheap, but with a selection this good, you won't look cheap, either.
Formerly Pretty Freedom Vintage, A Homerun has a new name and a new space (right next door to the old one, at 165 Augusta). The carefully-decorated store is more boutique-like than the jumble-sale atmosphere of most of Kensington's vintage stores; despite the more 'edited' feel, nearly everything I checked out during a recent visit was priced at $25.
Boutique Monique isn't anywhere near what you might consider a popular shopping area, but the lower rent at St. Clair and Oakwood means owner Monique Nanton can pass on savings to shoppers who make the trek. The store was born out of Nanton's extensive collection of designer vintage: With most items (including pieces by the likes of Max Mara, Valentino and Oscar de la Renta) topping out at around $150, you'll be able to expand your own collection pretty quickly.
Da Vintage Code/Fashion Old And New
These sister stores (at 22 Kensington Avenue and 27 Kensington, respectively) share an owner, but differ slightly in their product offerings: Da Vintage Code focuses more on clothes (including tons of sequined and beaded pieces for $60 or less), while Fashion Old And New hosts a huge stockpile of vintage bags, including Coach and Dooney and Bourke. Both are remarkably well-organized (by size and, often, colour).
Located at the foot of Roncesvalles, this vintage emporium looks less like a clothing boutique and more like an antiques shop. Racks of clothing are tucked away at the back, with gorgeous vintage clothing, shoes and accessories woven into the vignettes of items around the store. (There's so many treasures they actually hold auctions on the first Sunday and third Thursday of each month for the rarest and most unusual pieces.)
Apparently, DuWest is a nickname for Dundas West; it's also the name of this warm, lived-in boutique, helmed by a 20-year veteran of Toronto's vintage clothing scene. Where prices might be driven up in another neighbourhood, the vintage shoes and worn-in rock tees here are available for a steal.
Stella Luna's existence isn't exactly a secret - the vintage boutique has been tucked into a storefront at Queen and Roncesvalles for nearly 20 years - yet it somehow tends to slip away from local media when it comes time to round up Toronto's best vintage stores. It's reportedly a favourite of Toronto's most fashionable, including pro stylists, due to its mix of owner Crispian Underwood's careful eye for selection and rock-bottom prices, even for designer vintage (Christian Dior labels are frequently spotted on the racks).
What did I miss? Suggest a vintage shop you think more people should know about in the comments below.