The Best Places to Find Stuff Made by Local Designers
So we're eating local, and it's delicious. But food is only one of many things that can be homegrown. Art, artifacts, clothes, notepaper, posters, ceramics. If it can be knit, spun, inked, daubed, reconstructed, deconstructed, fused or 'smithed, there's a local designer producing it.
The last few years have seen a clutch of designer collectives open in Toronto. As Shopgirls Gallery Boutique puts it, the local talent was evident, the opportunities were not. So, in true Canadian spirit, Toronto artists created their own opportunities, opening their own stores and galleries.
Come check out what the colonies can do.
Pictured at top, left to right, are: The Distill Gallery, Case Goods Warehouse, and Nathalie-Roze & Co. Thumbnails below of Kid Icarus and The Rage courtesy of Patrick Smith.
The Case Goods Warehouse is an Artscape ("not-for-profit enterprise engaged in culture-led regeneration") endeavour. Together but separate, fine and visual artists operate out of their own glass-fronted spaces, under one roof. Window shop, browse and periodically duck inside to meet the artisan, or get a closer look at a shiny bauble, narrative photograph or multi-coloured viscosity etchings & paintings. More »
Self-described "craftista-designer", Nathalie-Roze showcases her own and many other people's designs (that'd be the "and Co." part). She also offers workshops to get you started on your own crafty path. Sign up for the upcoming "skirt alert" or "tshirt surgery". This Saturday, July 12th marks Nathalie-Roze and Cos' 2nd anniversary. 20% discount on everything in the store that day, plus prizes. More »
Owners Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson opened Made in 2006, filling their Dundas West space with Canadian furniture, lighting, ceramics, glass and textiles. Their primary goal is to showcase modern work that is thoughtful and well-executed, and Canadian besides. We can't help it if being Canadian keeps bringing those other good qualities along with it. More »
Distill has moved into a more spacious setting, still in the Distillery District, but now in Bldg No 47. Contemporary items selected from the works of over 100 hardworking local artisans. Coming up in August (11th-17th) is a 'wine and dine' special feature -- handmade pieces relating to food, drink and entertaining. More »
Fresh Collective is a must-stop-in designer-run shop on West Queen West. Currently featuring 21 different designers, they all actively participate in keeping the store, well, fresh. See Oddbird's decorated domino necklaces and scrabble cufflinks, Candi Factory underpants, Kekki Bam's reworked vintage ads (three men discussing who gets to wear their leisure suit today), and an extensive kids' section towards the back. More »
Just south of Charles on Yonge Street, Propaganda is where to go to accessorize your bad self (or good self, whatever you need). Bags, earrings, belt buckles, Monster Factory plushes and more. Or choose from Propaganda's small and carefully hand-picked selection of clothing. Propaganda's been informally revitalizing Yonge Street for years with their welcoming in-store atmosphere. More »
Down at the southern tip of Kensington (or right at the start, depending on your point of entry) is The Rage. Find it via the pink and silver leopard print headless mannequin out front. The Rage, as in "all the", provides a venue for recent Toronto fashion grads in one of Kensington's original converted residences. More »
On Queen St W, at the eastern end of Parkdale, is the ShopGirls Gallery Boutique. ShopGirls designs and produces hanging art, clothing, accessories, and some furniture. Whatever the members of their Artist's Circle are producing. Collaboration is encouraged in the Artist's Den, the on-site studio space where members of ShopGirls create their designs. More »
Trove is the mother-daughter venture of Carolyn Eby and Barbara Scriver, featuring a range of designers, some international, but many local. A couple of years ago Trove absorbed Shoon from across the street and broadened its range of footwear and clothing ("as size-inclusive as possible"). Housed in a pear-green double-wide space on the east side of Bathurst, it's across the street but miles away from Honest Ed's. More »
Freedom Clothing Collective has one ambitious (and applaudable) mission statement. They're trying to build a store on the principles of responsible consumption and freedom of expression. Creating environmentally responsible clothing at the same time as creating community. Not just made in Canada, but made in your neighbourhood. More »