Used House Vintage Toronto

Used House of Vintage

Used House of Vintage, to my own personal amusement, is sandwiched right between Urban Outfitters and American Apparel on Queen West. Imagine, then, the spectacle afforded to keen observers when trend-driven shoppers emerge from either international chain, carrying a mass-produced take on a vintage style. Then there's Used, sitting humbly in the middle, offering the real thing without risk of your coworker showing up in the same outfit.

However, some of the goods at Used — the true one-of-a-kind treasures — are quite a bit pricier than you'll find at American Apparel or Urban Outfitters. Pricier in the "extra 0's" type sense. But there's a very good reason for that; alas, Used doesn't strike me as one of those vintage stores with Value Village its main supplier. The Louis Vuitton suitcase in the window ($2,700) is the first clue.

Used House Vintage Toronto

The original Used House of Vintage opened a few years ago in Vancouver, followed by a second location that would later open in Calgary. It was Toronto's turn a few months ago when owner Craig Doyle decided it was time to tap this city's Toronto market. While Craig is actually in Vancouver on the day when I stop by, salesperson Alex is more than willing to show me around and point out some of his favourite pieces.

"I'm from Vancouver," he says as he watches me check out Used's collection of fur coats. "We don't have a lot of those in our store there."

Used House Vintage Toronto

The Vancouver store does sell plenty of faux fur jackets, but as Alex says, real fur doesn't really fly in Van as well as it does in Toronto. With a, uh, "preserved" cheetah staring at me from Used's central green sofa, I rifle through the coats which start at about $85. There's everything from sealskin to painted mink, as well as a few faux prints, perhaps for the Vancouver imports.

Used House Vintage Tortonto

While items like the leather Chanel corset ($3,500), Jean Paul Gaultier sheer jumpsuit ($395), and aforementioned Louis Vuitton suitcase might scare off some budget-conscious vintage shoppers (and send them right back to Urban Outfitters, no less), Used's low price points are actually quite affordable. In terms of the men's selection (which is fairly represented by about half of the store) there are plenty of vintage T's priced around $25. The women's picks offered everything from high-waisted burgundy suede pants ($60), to someone's black sequined prom dress (complete with pouffy shoulders) for $165.

Used Vintage TOornto

While the clothes seemed to span every decade from the 20's until now, I found I couldn't tear myself away from Used's jewellery counter. Alex tells me that Craig mostly finds those items at estate sales, and indeed, they seem the type of pieces that carry individual histories. I can almost see the woman who put on her clip-on gold Christian Dior earrings ($95) as the last touch before a night out, or the old man puffing contently on his hand-carved wooden pipe ($45). Perhaps in the smoking jacket among the Mr. Bean tweed blazers on one of Used's men's racks. There's also an awesome Willy Wonka-esque set of old goggles, but I decide they're more Johnny Depp than Gene Wilder, and therefore a little too creepy for my liking.

Used House Vintage

Before I leave Alex tells me that most of the buying and sorting is done and Vancouver, where each item, of course, doesn't come with duplicates.

Used House Vintage

Photos by Erin Jones

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