The 10 most famous clothing stores in Toronto
The most famous clothing stores in Toronto are local institutions and shopping standbys well-known to Toronto fashion fans. It's no secret that there's tons of great shopping to be done in this town, and there are scores of stores that have gained solid buzz in Toronto and elsewhere - not to mention plenty of chain stores with renowned local outposts (Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew and John Fluevog, to name a few).
I focused on independent stores for this list - a few long-running family businesses with decades-old histories, and some boutiques who have managed to hang on tightly to their particular niche in the city's retail scene, even as the cityscape swiftly changed around them. They're names perennially on the lips of local shoppers - and in travel guides, best of Toronto shopping lists, and even pieces about local history. If you haven't checked them out yet, what are you waiting for?
Here are my picks for the most famous clothing stores in Toronto.
Tom's is a Kensington institution - and often, it's the first place that comes to mind for Torontonians looking for a suit on a budget. The store, run for decades by Tom Mihalik, has a rep for attentive service, a uniquely mazelike atmosphere, and some good deals on decent-quality suits by the likes of Hugo Boss and Strellson. (If you're buying multiple suits, remember: Haggling is all part of the Tom's experience.)
Designer Pam Chorley's boutique is a shrine to all things lace-covered and glittery. Since its launch in 1983, the store has become a magnet for flashy dressers - including girls drawn from all over the GTA by the promise of a standout prom dress. Chorley recently left the store's longtime Queen and Spadina location for a new home down the block at Queen and Manning (the former Klaxon Howl); it's a touch smaller, but that only increases the amount of sparkles per square inch.
That pair of Vans/Cons/Blundstones/Sorels you've been looking for? It's probably available here. The Queen and Spadina shoe boutique is well-stocked with styles from a smattering of beloved footwear and sneaker brands. The prices are about the same as what you'll find elsewhere, but being able to pick up that hard-to-find colour of your favourite kicks will more than make up for it.
Saul Korman has been selling suits on the Danforth for over 60 years, and even though the suits (which include offerings from Hugo Boss and Canali) have changed with the years, the store still takes an old-school approach, with a strong focus on quality.
Over the Rainbow
There's a perfect pair of jeans out there for everybody, and you're likely to find your ideal cut, length and wash at Over The Rainbow. The Yorkville spot's been a go-to source for denim since 1975, with the selection mostly skewing toward designer pairs (standout names include Hudson, 7 For All Mankind, Paige, and AG), as well as a few Canadian faves like Mackage, Fidelity, Rudsak and Line Knitwear.
Secrets From Your Sister
SFYS has been Torontonians' favourite lingerie destination (and, true to the name, a source of valuable advice and info) since 1998. Tellingly, they bill themselves as a "bra fitting boutique"; the focus here is on precisely fitting each customer into a quality bra, no matter how hard-to-find your size might be. (Be sure to leave yourself 45 minutes to one hour for a fitting.)
So Hip It Hurts
If you are (or have ever been) a skater or snowboarder, you've probably made the climb up the stairs at 323 Queen W., where So Hip It Hurts takes up several rooms full of hard-to-find decks, shoes and other sought-after gear. In their 20-plus years of existence, they've earned nods in skate magazines and had plenty of visits from high-profile out-of-towners like Wayne Gretzky, Jack Johnson, Robin Williams, and Kat von D (check their wall of celeb signatures).
Courage My Love
A perennial favouite on best-of lists and vintage guides, Courage is arguably the best-known shop in the city's best-known vintage shopping district. The breadth and quality of the selection, reasonable prices, homey-bohemian atmosphere and fun extras (Buttons! Jewelry! Luchador masks!) all add up to countless return trips for Kensington shoppers.
Black Market Vintage
It's the closet thing there is to a vintage megamart in Toronto; the selection in Black Market's sprawling basement store is massive, the screenprinted tees are cheeky, and the deals ($10 for everything!) are the stuff of legend. A few years back, Black Market opened up corners of their shop to permanent vendors, making them a market in the truest sense (their current tenants include Modraphelia and Good Music).
If you're looking for a frilly petticoat, a vintage tee, a cowboy jacket, or pretty much anything for your Halloween costume, you'll probably find it at Exile's two locations in Kensington Market. The store, built around a strong DIY/punk sensibility when it opened in 1975, was named in homage to the Rolling Stones. Nowadays, it's a favourite haunt of vintage hounds (and, if you'll believe the rumours, celebrities - everyone from the Beastie Boys to Beyonce).
What did I miss? Add a famous Toronto clothing store to the comments below.