Blue Button Shop
Blue Button Shop opened last week in Dundas West as a way for owner Brian Cheuk to bring a bit of Japan to Toronto. But, instead of the loud, youthful side of Japanese fashion we all know and (subjectively) love, the unisex clothing boutique focuses on "Otona" style - mature and refined, with subtle yet fun details. The decor is also rooted in this sophisticated approach; the white walls and hardwood floors are simple background elements to the less-conventional plumbing pipe racks and antique shelves.
As for the clothing, Brian stocks around 30 brands straight out of Japan as well as a handful of other international labels, many of which can't be found elsewhere in North America. He explains that though all of them prioritize quality, each has a different story and thus a unique final product.
Minotaur marries functionality with new-age design to produce a "revolutionary level of quality" - a concept evident in a reversible windbreaker that's solid blue on one side and printed with a satellite image of Earth on the other ($319). Heller's CafĂŠ pulls inspiration from vintage pieces to create high-end workwear, like deep indigo men's jeans with large pockets and contrast stitching ($299). Evam Eva uses innovative textiles in their unisex separates - a lightweight wrap cardigan made of washi paper yarn ($309) quickly becomes my favourite item in the shop.
Brian also leaves a lot of room for accessories, stressing that bags have become a bit of a personal obsession. Only the stiffest canvas and toughest leather are used in totes ($250) and satchels ($300) by Southern Field Industries - materials that will no doubt become more and more beautiful over time. Colour-blocked socks ($32) and sunglasses ($379) litter the shelves by the cash, along with totally necessary grooming products like beard oil by Prospector Co ($34).
Blue Button Shop's well-rounded list of brands isn't stopping here. Brian tells me that the future holds more trips to Asia and more magazine scanning to find the perfect additions to the boutique: made-in-Japan clothes that "make you happy..." without being gaudy.
Photos by Morris Lum