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Toronto Valentine’s Day Gifts for Men: 15 gift ideas for guys, from simple to extravagant

Valentine's Day Gifts for Him: 15 gift ideas for lads, from inexpensive to extravagant

Guys can be tough to shop for on Valentine’s Day: they don’t tend to gush over romantic gestures and sappy cards, and there’s no failsafe backup like flowers and candy. This is why we scoured Toronto’s retail scene for gifts that guys will actually love. From playful tokens of friendship to ultra-extravagant splurges, here are 15 gift ideas for every romantic scenario.

RELATED: Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Women: 15 gifts she’ll actually want »

The Goods

Stores

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Store Guide: MenEssentials, a new guys-only grooming shop on the Danforth

Store Guide: MenEssentials

Name: MenEssentials
Sells: Grooming products for men, including skin and hair care, fragrances, shaving accessories, manicure kits and toothpaste
Contact info: 412 Danforth Ave., 1-800-833-1055, menessentials.ca
Hours: Su, Tu–W 10–6, Th–F 10–9, Sa 10–7
See it on a map »

A new grooming boutique has landed in the east end to serve guys frustrated by Toronto’s dearth of sophisticated male primping spots (the Men’s Zone at Shoppers Drug Mart not included). MenEssentials is a 1,000-square-foot man cave lined with a bewildering array of creams, fragrances, serums and shaving accessories. Products range from bar soap and replacement razor blades for under $5, all the way up to a Dovo straight razor with fossilized mammoth ivory handles for $800—which is already sold out.

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The Goods

Stores

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Lululemon is planning to open men’s-only stores

Lululemon has had a tumultuous year. The stretchy-pant mega-corp issued a massive recall of its signature pants (they were too see-through) in March, its stock has suffered a double-digit drop and CEO Christine Day resigned earlier this week. But the Vancouver company has a plan for getting its groove (pant) back: it’s opening mens-only stores by 2016 in a bid to make inroads in the lucrative male sport-wear market. The brand already has a small following among male yogis and, apparently, NHL players, who are secretly enamored with their undies.

The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: after years in denial, I finally worked up the courage to switch genders


Memoir: Girl Interrupted

In my earliest memory, I am four and it’s bath time. I see my brother’s penis and turn to my mother to ask where mine is. She laughs the question off as normal kid stuff. But I am legitimately confused, and in that bathtub, I realize for the first time that my body and my mind are not aligned.

I grew up in a tiny village in Portugal where men were men and women were women, in the traditional sense. If I tried to play farmer with the boys, I was told to play dolls with the girls. My name was Lilia and physically I was female, but every time someone called me a “she” I felt like they were looking through me. I was granted respite a few times each year on village festival days when the streets teemed with families and I was allowed to run freely. Once, wearing my most androgynous clothes, I approached a little girl, and with one look she took me for a boy. We played as boy and girl the entire day; at one point I even stood facing a wall pretending to pee. It was the first time I’d ever experienced “passing,” and it was like every Christmas wish I’d ever made was granted to me in a single instant.

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The Informer

Columns

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Memoir: how I put an end to my extended adolescence

When I became a father, I decided it was time to make the long-delayed leap into adulthood. The best way to be a grown-up, I reckoned, was to look like one

Memoir: how I put an end to my extended adolescenceOne night four years ago, I was rocking my infant son to sleep and he looked at me with that soul-searching gaze all babies have. I could almost hear him saying, “So, you’re going to teach me how to be a man.” In that moment it dawned on me that I didn’t really know what it meant to be a man.’

Like many men of my generation, I’d lived an extended adolescence. Even as an adult, I bought all the toy robots I wanted and watched The Matrix on loop. I neither learned nor cared to learn the so-called manly skills of past generations: how to fix things around the house, how to polish my shoes, how to change the oil in my car. As a result, I entered many situations as a boy instead of a man, fumbling my way through.

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The Goods

Weddings

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Dear Wedding Diplomat: Is it sexist to exclude a close male friend from my bachelorette party?

Dear Wedding Diplomat: Gender Defender

(Image: ~Someone Else~)

Dear Wedding Diplomat,
My bridesmaids planned my bachelorette party but didn’t invite one of my close friends because he’s a guy. Instead, he’s supposed to go to my fiancé’s bachelor party, which will involve a trip to the Brass Rail strip club. He’s gay and has no interest in boobs; plus, I’d really like him to be part of my night. I explained this to my bridesmaids but they gave me the old “no boys allowed” spiel and breezed over the issue. It feels sexist to exclude him. Should I call them on it?
—Gender Defender, Yonge and St. Clair

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The Dish

Random Stuff

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Mantry launches dude-specific food delivery service in Toronto

(Image: Mantry)

Mantry, the “Modern Man’s Pantry,” is a new mail-order service from co-founders Reggie Milligan and Kyle Zien which aims to tame the big bad world of food selection. The premise is simple: “cut through the crap and deliver straight goods.” For less than $50 a month, subscribers receive a basket of “guy-specific greatness”—in other words, food and drinks designed to reflect the sensibilities of the modern man (which, apparently, are a combination of the exotic, the rare and the functional). “Between work, women and weekends, guys don’t have a lot of time to focus on food,” said Zien in a release, “so we hope to step up and not waste their valuable time and money with things that suck.” Mantry doesn’t claim to up your dating game, but as the website explains, “babes recognize a man with taste,” and offering your date a cup of premium Oaxacan Hot Chocolate or showing off your collection of Norwegian Reindeer jerky “shows her you’re not some hack who only orders in.” Duly noted.

The Goods

Shopping

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Vain Glory: a his-and-hers medicine cabinet stocked with everything you need

A his-and-hers medicine cabinet loaded for the kind of people who need more than Ivory and Crest to get through life

Vain Glory

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The Informer

Business

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Toronto has more sugar daddies (a.k.a. creepy rich guys) than anywhere else in Canada

Hugh Hefner, patron saint of sugar daddies (Image: convergentmediapr)

Toronto has the dubious honour of being the sugar daddy capital of Canada, according to a dating website that specializes in pairing rich (and, often, egocentric or deluded) men with beautiful (and, often, cash-strapped or mercenary) women. Using data from its users, SeekingArrangement.com found that Toronto has an average of two “daddies” (ugh) per thousand adult men, compared to one in Montreal and one and a half in Vancouver. The Torontonians have an average yearly income of about $253,000 and net worth of $5.4 million, and 40 per cent of them are married. But the most bewildering statistic is that they, on average, give their “sugar babies” (UGH!) a monthly budget of $4,027—just remember, ladies, money can’t buy you class.

The Informer

Features

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Toronto writer Alexandra Molotkow shares the secrets of her cybersexual education

I’m among the first generation to come of age on the Internet. By 13, I was an expert at chat room sex, spotting cyber-pervs and hiding my secret life from my parents

My Cybersexual Education

In 1997, when I was in Grade 6, my friends and I sat at the back of the classroom and talked about sex. We would speculate on what it felt like and place bets on how old we’d be when we finally lost our virginity. We would make fun of the way orgasms sounded in movies and imagine what celebrities’ sex lives involved. Later, at home, we’d reconvene on ICQ, one of the Internet’s first major instant messaging systems, which allowed us to have conversations we wouldn’t want our parents overhearing. That was what the Internet was to us: pretty much what a tree house would have been a few years earlier.

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The Goods

Shopping

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Holiday Gift Guide 2011: 90 of the best presents money can buy

PC Black Label
Holiday Gift Guide 2011

By Fraser Abe, Karolyne Ellacott, Kevin Naulls and Mark Teo | Photography by Carlo Mendoza

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and we’ve tackled the ever-difficult task of narrowing down a list of items that would be perfect for the men, women and children in your life. We find it is always a big to-do finding that special something for the wine snob who likes to aerate his or her wine, but we’ve got it covered, and to spare moms, dads, uncles, aunts and friends from waiting in line for this year’s Tickle Me Elmo, we’ve found some cool options for rug rats that won’t break down and send a greedy child into a tantrum.

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The Goods

Shopping

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Holiday Gift Guide 2011: 17 eye-grabbing offerings for the finest fellas

PC Black Label
Holiday Gift Guide 2011

By Fraser Abe, Karolyne Ellacott, Kevin Naulls and Mark Teo | Photography by Carlo Mendoza

The modern man is more complicated than the slipper-wearing, pipe-smoking, paper-reading image of yesteryear. This year’s gift guide reflects a different breed: instead of slippers, consider a pair of ultra-comfy cashmere socks from Harry Rosen, and while pipes are passé, a Siglo humidor will keep his cigars in pristine condition. But if you feel like embracing the stereotype for a moment, fear not—we still have a bottle-opening wrench for cracking a few brews before the big game.

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The Goods

Stores

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Canada’s first Ben Sherman store is opening for men only this fall

Ben Sherman Plectrum (Image: Ben Sherman)

We were somewhat miffed when we found out that J.Crew wouldn’t be stocking their menswear just yet, but when one door closes, another one opens, and today we found out that Toronto fellas will have access to Canada’s first Ben Sherman location sometime this fall. We’ve heard whispers it could be open by September 2011, with Ben Sherman opening at 734 Queen St. W. (formerly streetwear shop Stolen Riches). We thought the news might cheer up those boys still weeping over Toronto’s continuing shortage of chinos, cashmere-blend Henleys and chambray shirts.

The Informer

Culture

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American Idiot announces open casting call in Toronto

American Idiot makes promises, promises (Image: Marlon E)

At long last, every Torontonian who can sing and dance will have the opportunity to become an American Idiot in the Broadway hit’s Canadian production. The producers of the New York success story—the New York Times calls it “wonderfully raucous,” whatever that means—will be holding an open call for auditions at Roy Thomson Hall on March 26 at 11 a.m.

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The Dish

Features

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Sloppy, drippy, salty, meaty, fruity, earthy and cheesy: Chris Nuttall-Smith takes on M:brgr’s $100 burger

The $100 brgr and its associated finery (Image: Colin Griffin, M:brgr)

I ate two Kobe beef patties for lunch yesterday, plus a couple slices of bacon, a wedge of foie gras, an ounce of gloopy brie, a slick of fig jam, a stack of really fabulous grilled pear slices, four asparagus spears, piave del vecchio cheese, garlic-roasted ham (effing delish), porcini mushrooms (I’m thinking they weren’t porcini, but that’s what the menu said), three white bread buns, an olive, and a side each of black truffle slices and honey truffle aïoli. All this cost me $100, plus tax and tip, and the burger—yes, it was a burger—was so tall that it took several tries and a near-miss nasal-labial injury to get an honest bite of the thing into my mouth.

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