The Toronto vintage scene is thriving. The city has a reputation as a secondhand heaven among international designers and retailers, including Alexander Wang, Topshop and Urban Outfitters, more than 70 boutiques spread across multiple neighbourhoods and prices that make shoppers in New York and London envious. Here, our favourite Toronto vintage stores (click here for a map of them all).
House of Vintage
1239 Queen St. W., 416-535-2142, houseofvintage-toronto.blogspot.ca
A long rack snakes around the perimeter of the Parkdale shop, showcasing flamboyant shirts, sequined frocks and gauzy maxi-dresses for summer ($60–$100). Linger over the accessories, which include wing-tip brogues and mint-condition leather boots that start at only $45. The usual t-shirts and button-downs ($35 and up) can be found in the back. Owner Dennis Adamidis launched a highly-successful outpost in London, England a couple of years ago, a testament to his eye for great pieces.
Life of Manek
1504 Dundas St. W., 647-347-2635, lifeofmanek.com
One of the newest editions to Toronto’s vintage scene, the Little Portugal spot is full of quirky looks that would fit perfectly in New York’s East Village. Stylist-turned-shop owner Nicole Manek’s vintage wares include psychedelic maxi dresses, leather flats, ‘80s heels and handbags from the 1950s. She also stocks new clothing by J Brand, Australian swimwear line We Are Handsome, jeweller Butler and Wilson and more.
Penny Arcade Vintage
1177 Dundas St. W., 647-346-1386, pennyarcadevintage.com
Penny Arcade caters to the young and hip faction in its Dundas West neighbourhood with rocker basics like acid wash jean jackets, ’90s band tees and bohemian dresses. For summer, the denim shorts ($18–$25), leather mini-skirts ($30), kooky eyewear ($25–$125) and woven flats ($30) will look equally at home on a Queen Street patio or at Osheaga.
I Miss You
63 Ossington Avenue, 416-916-7021, Facebook
Featured last year in the New York Times, I Miss You has become a frequent stop for top designers on buying trips (spotted: Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors). The shops caters to couture tastes and everything is fanatically arranged by colour and type. An Yves Saint Laurent teal satin jacket ($400) and monogram Louis Vuitton papillon bag ($250) would punch up spring outfits in glamourous fashion. More vintage jewellery and leather goods are available at the accessories boutique next door.
886 Queen St. W., 416-818-3975, magwood.ca
Recently relocated to a bright, airy space on Queen Street West, Sarah Magwood’s ladylike boutique carries mint-condition designer goods and costume jewellery, mostly sourced from independent home sales. We love a 1920s silk embroidered piano shawl ($325) and a 1960s Saks Fifth Ave brocade coat with rhinestone buttons ($449). New this spring: beautiful bridalwear, mostly in the $225–$500 range (a show-stopping 1930s floor-length lace dress comes in at $1,290).
V by 69
702 Queen St. W., 647-748-9119, vby69.tumblr.com
Vintage queen Kealan Sullivan of 69 Vintage expanded her empire eastward with a sleek-looking boutique near Trinity Bellwoods. A wall of meticulously reconditioned boots, pumps, and oxfords ($65–$200) lures shoppers in; they stay to try leatherwork skirts and blazers from local designer Caitlin Power or a curated assortment of ‘60s evening wear. The reworked vintage pieces alone are worth the trip, especially silks shirts turned into colour-block tunics or crop tops ($75–$180). A good source for sumptuous furs and warm coats come winter.
672 Queen St. W., 416-504-7126, cabaretvintage.com
Owner Tao Drayton has a winning way and an encyclopaedic knowledge of his high-end wares, which include body-skimming 1960s dresses, flapper frocks and sparkly brooches and cuffs. The men’s section downstairs houses an impressive selection of suits and ascots for the modern-day dandy. Also available: an in-house line of wedding apparel based on vintage patterns, like the tea-length Verona for $995.
The Cat’s Meow
180 Avenue Rd., 647-435-5875, thecatsmeowcouture.com
Louise Cooper collects her merchandise from estate sales, auctions and society ladies, so shopping at her posh boutique feels more like raiding the closet of a voguish Rosedale matron. This is the place to find a timeless cocktail number ($495–$595) or a full-skirted 1950s dress for a summer wedding. The handbag section is a highlight, well stocked with Chanel purses ($760–$2,000) and even an Hermès Kelly ($1,500, on sale now for $1,270).
Thrill of the Find
1172 Queen St. E., 416-461-9313, thrillofthefind.com
An unassuming east-end gem, Thrill of the Find mixes bona fide designer vintage with cheaper secondhand pieces. An architectural Thierry Mugler dress ($165) might hang alongside a tweed coat from the 1960s ($105) and a J.Crew cashmere sweater ($60). Owner Mireille Watson has a collector’s eye and pays particular attention to quality and stitching. There are a lot of high-end pieces by European labels in excellent condition, minus the scary sticker shock.
1300 Queen St. E., 416-463-1254, gadaboutvintage.com
Located on the fringes of Leslieville, the trove of clothing, accessories, curios and trinkets looks chaotic, but the dresses and skirts are helpfully organized by waist size. The stock spans the Edwardian era to the ‘70s, with everything from Gatsby-esque dresses to structured 1940s blazers. A palazzo-pants ensemble from the 1970’s costs $325, while most of the shop’s lacy Edwardian tea dresses come in under $200.