Eleven Thirty Shop
Eleven Thirty Shop is a new accessories studio and boutique in Brockton Village where leather is the star of the show--a fact that is immediately apparent when I walk in and am enveloped in the warm and comforting aroma of genuine leather. Self-taught designers Mariel Gonzalez and Alexa Schoorl use leather as well as other natural and industrial materials to produce their line of handbags, backpacks and other accessories, all made on location in the back half of the store.
Gonzalez and Schoorl had previously worked under their own design labels--Isak and Inger and Augustine Leather Goods, respectively--but they decided to combine forces and launched Eleven Thirty Shop in June, simply named after the studio's College Street address. Their primary business is wholesale distribution to stores in Toronto, like Roncesvalles' Likely General and Queen West's Coal Miner's Daughter , and to retailers in the US and Japan. But Gonzalez and Schoorl also wanted to open a storefront to experiment with new designs. "It's a creative outlet," Gonzalez explains, "since we can just try things out and put them in the window."
Schoorl and Gonzalez work mainly with leather, and strive to find the highest quality material from within Canada, but at an accessible price range. Their products also feature furs and utilitarian materials like waxed canvas, copper, brass, and MEC climbing rope.
The emphasis on natural and rugged materials is reflected in the store's dĂŠcor. Items hang from displays made of reclaimed wood and simple metal hooks, or sit atop unfinished wood benches. Lush green plants are scattered throughout, while cacti, a cowhide rug, and pig skulls (provided by Enoteca Sociale ) add a southwestern touch. The production and design area in the back is fully open and visible, and I can't help but admire the racks of raw materials and tools covering the walls as Schoorl works away, cutting leather pieces.
Within the cozy space, the variety of items for sale is impressive. Regardless of your style or purpose, there's probably a purse, large tote, or backpack that will strike your fancy (bags priced around $100-$500). Designs range from worn and industrial to clean and modern, with some elegant ladylike purses and boldly coloured suede items thrown in the mix. As an added touch, design names pay homage to west-end Toronto streets, like Lippincott and Euclid, or the designers' personal friends.
I'm particularly drawn to the Bellwoods tote ($100), made of tan canvas with large navy outside pockets and a single tanned leather strap. It's a great take-anywhere bag that's big enough for a busy Saturday of running errands. "We thought it would work for going to the farmers' market, or carrying a few beers," Schoorl explains--not that you'd ever associate 'Bellwoods' with 'beer,' of course.
At the higher end of the price range, the Bay Street backpack is eye-catching for its elegant combination of functionality and flair ($380). Named for its more professional feel, this is far from your typical boring black briefcase. The large square compartment is made of canvas and fur and is just the right size for a laptop and some files, with a large zippered front pocket and adjustable leather straps.
In addition to bags, Eleven Thirty Shop sells other accessories like leather belts ($50-$150), coin purses ($20), and clip-on leather tassels to jazz up your favourite bag ($15). Their bold necklaces ($65) are perfect for making a statement, with leather tassels or pieces of aged copper piping adorning a simple strip of thin leather. Gonzalez and Schoorl also sell some home dĂŠcor accessories, like hanging plant holders and mobiles made of metal piping and straw.
In the short time they've been open, Gonzalez and Schoorl say they're busier than expected, thanks to foot traffic generated from the new brunch spots nearby, and from selling at the Junction Flea . Coming up, they plan on offering a moccasin-making workshop in November and new pieces for winter. "We're just really excited for the holiday season," gushes Gonzalez, "and we really appreciate the support from the community."
Eleven Thirty Shop is open Monday to Saturday, 11am-7pm.
Photos by Morris Lum