A suit is just a suit, except when it’s hand-crafted by an Italian sewing genius over dozens of painstaking hours. Then, it’s a Kiton suit and costs more than a luxury four-door sedan. There are only three freestanding Kiton boutiques in North America, but Retail Insider reports that a new Toronto boutique at 114 Yorkville Avenue will soon jack that number up to four. The exclusive italian brand is known for its outrageously expensive menswear: dress shirts sell for $1,000, and the cheapest ready-to-wear suits start around $5,500. Bespoke options, meanwhile, go for three or four times that, with the brand’s most expensive made-to-measure option—the ultra-exclusive K-50 model—topping out at an extravagant 50 grand. It’s a ludicrous sum to imagine spending on a single, non-ruby-encrusted outfit. That said, it’s sort of fun to think that Toronto is finally flashy enough to merit such a stupid-expensive enterprise. The boutique is expected to open later this spring.
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Fashion Art Toronto—or just FAT, as it’s known in artsy circles—is the punky goth chick to Toronto Fashion Week’s popular mean girl: it’s less mainstream and attention-grabby, and definitely more accessible to ordinary non-socialites. Some might also call it more interesting. Starting tomorrow, April 22, the week-long event celebrates the wacky, experimental side of fashion, which means the stuff on display isn’t always super-wearable (a coat without a head-hole, say, or a giant tree covered in shoes). This year’s edition takes place at the Daniels Spectrum Centre in Regent Park, with each day’s events devoted to a different pair of contrasting ideas, like grit/glamour, or masculine/feminine. Along with 45 runway shows, the fest includes artsy films, photography exhibits, experimental dance performances and thought-provoking art installations. There’s also a whole day devoted to emerging Montreal designers, whose hometown fashion fest was unceremoniously cancelled last fall. Tickets are available here.
Apr. 22-26.$35 (day pass), $100 (week pass). Daniels Spectrum Centre, 585 Dundas St. E., fashionarttoronto.ca
The running shoe is enjoying a renaissance. Sporty, heelless footwear has shown up all over this spring, on high-fashion runways and on the feet of style setters across Toronto. Whether paired with a pretty midi skirt or slouchy boyfriend jeans, runners radiate an effortless kind of cool. (They’re also blissfully comfortable, which is nice.) We’ve picked out our favourite women’s and men’s sneakers of the season: luxe cheetah-print slip-ons, pastel-hued retro runners and subtle leather lace-ups that could even be worn with a suit. These kicks are a far cry from the beat-up Asics stashed at the back of your closet, and can be worn practically anywhere (as long as you don’t actually try to exercise in them).
Toronto Spa Week is a bit like Winterlicious, except the people who participate tend to emerge from the experience feeling relaxed and gloriously groomed instead of plump and sort of cranky. This year’s edition runs from April 21 to 25 (i.e. all next week). During that time, spas and salons across the city will be offering massages, facials, waxes, peels and other types of beauty treatments, each for the flat-rate price of $50. As with Winterlicious, some deals stand out more than others—like a combination massage and facial at the Purebeauty spa in the Trump Hotel (actual retail price: $180) or a mani-pedi at the Holts spa on Bloor West (usually $110). It’s a great opportunity to live like a man or lady of leisure, if only for a little while. The full list of deals and discounts is available here. One word of advice: consider booking appointments sooner rather than later, as the best spots are guaranteed to fill up fast.
Apr. 21-25. Various locations, wayspa.com
Artzila.com, a new Toronto-based online art shop, hopes to do for fledgling Canadian fine artists what YouTube did for Justin Bieber. The website, which launched a couple months ago, serves as a middleman between talented Canadian artists—some of whom may not have the money or connections to monetize their efforts—and the art-consuming public. Professional and amateur creators can submit their original photographs, paintings and other two-dimensional media to the site’s curators, who evaluate each piece for pure artistic merit. If a piece makes the cut, it’s listed on the site and shoppers are able to order from a limited batch of museum-quality prints, which are produced, packaged and shipped at no cost to the artist. Prices range from $40 (for a basic eight-by-ten) to $1000 (for a wall-spanning 40 by 50), making the site a genuine money-earning vehicle for talented up-and-comers, who retain 50 per cent of the proceeds. It’s also a potential investment tool for discerning collectors.
Name: Want Apothecary
Sells: Men’s and women’s clothing, shoes, bags and beauty products
Contact info: 1070 Yonge St., 416-924-8080, wantapothecary.com
Hours: M-F 10-7, Sa 10-6, Su 12-5
See it on a map »
Residents of Montreal’s chichi Westmount district are already familiar with Want Apothecary, the clothing and lifestyle shop from Byron and Dexter Peart, the sibling designers behind chic handbag and luggage line Want Les Essentiels de la Vie, and co-founders Mark Wiltzer and Jacqueline Gelber. Their first Toronto boutique exemplifies the trendy-but-polished aesthetic that should resonate with Rosedale’s young professionals and society dames (the Peart duo boasts a history of collaborations with preppy mega-retailer J.Crew). Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The Distillery District, once a retail dead zone, has morphed into a veritable upmarket shopping destination, thanks to new entrants like Gotstyle and John Fluevog. The latest retailer to set up shop along the cobblestones is Trinity Bellwoods shoe shop Heel Boy. The store has earned a loyal mix of devotees with its ever-changing selection of stylish-but-affordable designs from brands like Nine West, Steve Madden and Ted Baker (we love these retro two-tone brogues). The new location boasts the neighbourhood’s characteristic high ceilings and exposed brick walls, making it feel roomier and fancier than the Queen West location. It could be just the place to pick up a pair of sweet summer espadrilles—or, for now at least, some unusually stylish rain boots.
M-F 10-9, Sa 10-8, Su 11-7. 49 Tank House Ln., 416-363-2794, heelboy.com
Product hoarders, take note: this new Korean beauty boutique will likely test your resolve. Holika Holika, a popular South Korean cosmetics brand, recently launched a new downtown Toronto location at Queen and John, near the MuchMusic building. (Its first Canadian outlet opened in Markham’s Pacific Mall in 2012). The little shop carries all the components of a traditional multi-step Korean skincare routine: cleansing oils, sugar scrubs, toners, “essence” (i.e. concentrated serums) and fabric facial masks infused with ingredients like snail secretions and placenta extract. Makeup junkies will find lip glosses, BB creams and rainbow-hued eye shadow palettes, most priced on par with mid-range drugstore brands. There’s even a special BB cream for men (minus the candy-coloured packaging), because who ever said guys shouldn’t flaunt flawlessly even skin?
M-Th 10-8, F-Sa 10-9, Su 11-8, 311A Queen St. W., holikaholika.ca
Browsing the racks at Three Fates, a new women’s boutique in Parkdale, feels a bit like shopping in a giant, well-stocked closet. The shop, which carries a 70/30 mix of hand-picked vintage pieces and unworn apparel, specializes in breezy, boho looks that would fit right in at Coachella: floral ’90s dresses, leather lace-up booties and casual separates from up-and-coming West Coast designers like L.A.’s Mustard Seed and Vancouver’s Gentle Fawn.
“I wanted the store to reflect how I dress,” says owner Robin Vengroff, a Ryerson grad whose vintage love affair began when she raided her grandmother’s wardrobe at age 18. Her most popular pieces are casual but eclectic, like a soft, black floral kimono form L.A. brand Sage ($58), or delicate, stackable rings from Toronto jeweler Karatoya ($25). Vengroff sources most of her vintage gear out West, for reasons both aesthetic and totally practical. “They don’t have our weather out there,” she says. “Their shoes and boots are in much better condition.”
M-Sa 11-7, Su 12-6. 1394 Queen St. W., 416-901-1533, facebook.com
Toronto’s retail pop-up scene is gaining momentum, with new shopping opportunities emerging (and then disappearing) all the time. We’re keeping a lookout for the temporary shops you don’t want to miss.
Holt Renfrew’s new pop-up shop is as colourful and fun as a Bollywood dance party. Uncrate India is the first in a series of cultural pop-ups at Holts’s store-within-a-store, H Project. The products were all sourced from Indian artisans encountered by Alexandra Weston and designer Waris Ahluwalia (founder of House of Waris) on their weeks-long journey across the subcontinent, with stops in New Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur and Mandawa. The curated collection includes a mix of clothing, accessories and home-decor items, like woven rugs, hand-printed summer throws and intricately patterned lampshades. Our favourite pieces? The silky batik scarves and funky statement necklaces, both good choices for livening up a basic spring outfit.
Apr. 1-May 31. Holt Renfrew locations, holtrenfrew.com
Oversized and opulent master bedrooms are the busy Torontonian’s favourite new indulgence. Here are a few of the city’s best
The Person: Vivian Reiss, a 61-year-old visual artist and renovator
The Place: A 5,000-square-foot house in the Annex with an 800-square-foot master suite
When Reiss moved into her Romanesque Revival mansion 26 years ago, it was a dilapidated warren of small rooms and gloomy corners. The woman who built it in the 1880s was the widow of a prominent Upper Canada politician and had 11 children; Reiss only has two, both of whom have now moved out. She’s an artist and she wanted her home to be as brightly hued and full of light as her exuberant oil paintings. Unafraid of taking on a top-to-bottom overhaul (she now renovates apartment buildings and offices professionally), Reiss immediately started tearing down walls. She turned three bedrooms—two on the second floor and one on the third—into a two-storey master with a sitting area, and filled it with salvaged fixtures from old Toronto buildings and curios from frequent trips abroad. Her dressing salon was formerly a porch, which she glassed in, adding curtains for privacy. Finally, Reiss repurposed the library to create an enormous tiled ensuite inspired by the Moorish tiles of the Alhambra palace. Her reasoning: she loves books, but enjoys bubble baths by the fire even more.
The huge downtown Chapters is closing (which means another iconic Toronto retail space is up for grabs)
Yet more evidence that physical bookstores are the Blockbusters of the 2010s: yesterday, Indigo announced that it will be shutting down the big Chapters store next to the Scotiabank Theatre at John and Richmond. The store is slated to close on May 30.
“After lengthy negotiations, we have made the difficult decision not to renew our lease,” Indigo vice president Janet Eger told the Star in an email. “We believe there continue to be opportunities for us to better serve our GTA customers.” Toronto Chapters locations seem to be a dying breed: earlier this week, the Indigo-owned World’s Biggest Bookstore called it quits, and in mid-February the company’s Runnymede location did the same. (Eger says Indigo is already on the hunt for a new downtown lease, so readers and wicker-basket collectors need not despair entirely.)
All this brings us to the real question, though: who’s moving in? The space is big and well enough located to attract some serious retail contenders—provided they can get see beyond the gargantuan red Rubik’s Cube perched awkwardly on the roof—so it should be interesting to see what happens next. With any luck, the replacement will be something equally useful to moviegoers looking to kill time before a show.
America, for all its flaws, has a few things on Canada. White Castle, for one. And they invented The Simpsons. And for a long time, their Amazon selection was a lot broader, with The Everything Store carrying all kinds of stuff, from bestsellers and Blu-Rays to 55-gallon drums of lubricant and a stegosaurus costume for your dog.
According to the Globe, Amazon.ca is closing the gap, with the online mega-retailer now stocked with wireless accessories and musical instruments. So if you’ve ever envied Americans for being able to buy a guitar, online, without having a chance to even play it, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The increase in product lines sees Amazon raising the stakes in the turf war against comparable retail giants like Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire and Target.
It may also mean tough times ahead for mom-and-pop wireless accessory retailers everywhere.
Last Friday, the Stephen Lewis Foundation held its fifth-annual Dare To Wear Love gala, a fashion show and fundraiser for HIV/AIDS relief efforts in Africa. This year’s batch of models once again included some familiar names, like supermodel Stacey McKenzie, The Social co-host Traci Melchor and songstress Divine Brown, who opened the show with a musical number. (Also spotted sashaying down the runway: condo mogul Brad Lamb, sporting a rather extravagant hairpiece.) They wore designs from Canadian talents like Mikael Derderian, David Dixon and the duo behind Greta Constantine. Altogether, the night’s festivities raised an impressive $270,000. Here, 36 shots of the colourful, feel-good event.
Monocle, the creators of the Guide to Better Living, have launched a simple, sophisticated menswear line aimed at the jet-setting gentleman. The capsule collection, called Monocle Voyage, distils the male wardrobe down to five key pieces: a casual, partially lined blazer, sharp enough for dinner with clients but designed for optimal airplane comfort ($525), a decidedly un-sloppy monogrammed crew-neck sweatshirt in Japanese cotton ($155), and an Italian-made Oxford button-down ($190). The collection is capped off with a white cotton T-shirt ($100) and a pair of lightweight cotton-twill trousers ($255). While the prices certainly aren’t cheap for basics, these clothes have an added benefit: temperature control. Monocle founder and editor Tyler Brulé says that the collection was specially designed to keep men comfortable in multiple climates: “We came up with a series of pieces that will work in Montreal in January as well as Auckland in the high summer.”
Available at The Monocle Shop, 776 College St., or at monocle.com