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).
Store Guide: Young and Tae, a new store on Queen West that sells stylish leather boots for under $200
Young & Tae, a new women’s shoe store on Queen West, stocks the footwear equivalent of the Holy Grail: stylish, genuine leather shoes and boots that don’t cost a small fortune. The Seoul-based brand, owned by husband-and-wife team David and Jenny Kim, is an offshoot of South Korean wholesale shoe company San Marco. Its designs meld classic European shapes and styles with youthful details, like zippers, bold colours and knee-high lacing. The best part: the average price point hovers around $150.
The minimalist shop is designed for maximum efficiency: shoes and boots are staged on white oak pillars, a waist-high mirror runs along one wall and wooden blocks provide convenient trying-on stations (or resting posts for patient partners). Our favourite styles are trendy without being flash-in-the-pan, like Isabel Marant–style suede and leather ankle booties ($120) and sleek riding boots in black, brown and deep red ($170–$190). Non-boot options include soft leather driving moccasins ($90) and sling-back pumps in fuschia and cobalt blue ($80). Brightly hued leather bucket bags are roomy enough to work as everyday, haul-everything totes.
Runway fans—normally a fickle bunch—are still rocking black-and-white prints, even though it’s been more than a year since they first started cropping up. How to explain the trend’s staying power? Perhaps the jailbird palette appeals to Toronto’s colour-averse fashion set, or maybe it’s that graphic prints have just the right level of look-at-me impact. Or perhaps we can chalk it up to the patterns’ ability to look polished, quirky, feminine or bohemian depending on how they’re styled. In any event, the high-contrast look is here to stay. Here, 10 ways to pull it off from the crowd at Toronto Fashion Week.
The London Design Museum’s acclaimed retrospective dedicated to iconic French shoe designer Christian Louboutin has arrived in Toronto. More than 250 of Louboutin’s most show-stopping and outrageous designs—the kind that won over Carrie Bradshaw and Jennifer Lopez—are now on display at the Design Exchange at Bay and Wellington. True to the designer’s theatrical spirit, the exhibit features a fairground-like carousel, a giant spinning top, a topiary garden, a recreation of Louboutin’s Paris atelier and a sexy Dita von Teese hologram. For total sensory overload, take advantage of the free cocktails and canapes on July 18, August 15 and September 12. $22. To September 15. Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., 416-363-6121. dx.org.
Sells: Men’s shoes, shoe care products, bags and accessories
Contact info: 24 Bellair St. Unit 7, 416-967-3668, leatherfoot.com
Hours: M–W, Sa 11–6, Th–F 11–8, Su 12–3
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LeatherFoot specializes in handcrafted leather shoes for men, the kind of investment pieces that a gent will still be wearing forty years from now. The Yorkville shop’s off-the-rack pairs range from $310 for driving shoes by La Cordonnerie Anglaise to $1850 for hand-stained monkstraps by Saint Crispin’s (whose Romanian workshop reportedly produces fewer than 1,300 pairs each year). However, discerning shoppers willing to wait a few months and chip in an extra $200 or more can specify the leather, colour and soles of any shoe in the store, including pairs by England’s Alfred Sargent and Spanish brand Carmina. Finally, the truly shoe-obsessed can order bespoke pairs (starting around $5,000), in which the entire last is made according to the client’s measurements.
Stilettos are out. Taking their place, mercifully, are super-low, almost-like-you’re-wearing-flats heels. Here, ten ladylike pairs that you’ll be able to stroll in all summer. Read the rest of this entry »
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Ashley Ebner, a Toronto-based graduate of the London College of Fashion, launched a design-your-own shoe website called Joker’s Closet late last month. Shoppers choose from a small collection of seasonal designs (we like all six options for spring, especially a lace-up flat with cut-outs and a versatile two-strap wedge sandal) and then pick the type of leather and colour for every part of the shoe, all the way down to the stitching. The custom shoes are handmade and take about four weeks to arrive. At $295—$420, they’re not cheap, but take heart: shipping is free.
Vancouver-based John Fluevog Shoes opened a second Toronto location in the Distillery District on Saturday, giving another boost to the area’s appeal as an upmarket shopping destination. (Since December, Gotstyle and eco-friendly children’s clothier Mini Mioche have each opened newer, bigger locations in the district.) Fluevog, who has earned global success with his colourful, distinctive designs, celebrated the new store by releasing two limited-edition designs, one for men and one for women, available only at the Distillery location. If you want to snag a pair, you had better hurry—there are only a few left.
John Fluevog Shoes, 4 Trinity Street, fluevog.com, 416-583-1970
Mulberry’s first Canadian store in Yorkdale Mall is still months from opening, but the brand is already planning second location on Bloor West. The store, located in Lacoste’s former space in The Colonnade, will reportedly carry the British luxury label’s full collection of accessories, shoes and ready-to-wear clothing. The news caps off an exciting few months for Yorkville: Dolce and Gabbana and Kate Spade both also recently decided to expand into the area, while Stuart Weitzman and Louis Vuitton’s new digs on Mink Mile are already open. [Retail Insider]
Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture is the first exhibition in North America to trace the sneaker’s journey from athletic gear to status symbol. It’s also a chance to ogle really cool kicks designed by everyone from Damien Hirst to Christian Louboutin and worn by the likes of Michael Jordan and Terry Fox. Below, our favourites from the 120 pairs on display.
Name: Annie Aime
Sells: Clothing, shoes, accessories and skincare for men and women
Contact info: 42 Ossington Ave., 416-840-5227, annieaime.com
Hours: M–Sa 11–7, Su 12–5
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The latest arrival to the Ossington strip’s burgeoning south end is a colourful, quirky departure from the owner of Yorkville personal shopping institution French Accents. At Annie Aime, Parisienne expat Annie Mesenge emphasizes clever, avant-garde clothing and accessories that cater to the artsy set: favourites include zippered shoes from Italy’s Veeshoo and collapsable leather bags from Dutch label Frrry.
Since clothier Philip Sparks started making men’s shoes a few seasons ago, female visitors to his Ossington Avenue boutique have been begging him to produce the retro-inspired brogues and boots in smaller sizes. This spring, the Toronto designer did one better, launching a line of footwear specifically designed for women. The collection is small—just two styles in a couple of different colours—but it’s a promising start. This leather sandal in canary yellow, for instance, is a little preppy, a little vintage and very, very cheerful. $225.
Available at Philip Sparks, 162 Ossington Ave. (side entrance off Foxley Street), 647-348-1827, philipsparks.com
Name: Tiger of Sweden
Sells: Clothing, shoes and accessories for men and women
Contact info: 56 Ossington Ave., 416-588-4437, TigerOfSweden.com
Hours: M–W and Sa 11–7, Th and F 11–8, Su 12–5
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Though Ossington remains a mecca for vintage hunters, the neighbourhood now has its share of more upscale boutiques. The latest to land: Tiger of Sweden, whose slim-cut suits and minimalist separates have made it extremely popular in Europe. The label’s hip Scandinavian spirit fits in on the Ossington strip, although with garments targeted to the office and high-mid-range prices (men’s suits run $700–$1,000 and women’s, $450–$650), it caters to the area’s professionals over its hipster faction.
Name: Craft and Guile
Sells: Women’s clothing and jewellery, and vintage designer bags and shoes
Contact info: 70 Yorkville Ave., 416-924-4369, craftandguile.com
Hours: Su–W 11–6, Th–Sa 11–8
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Craft and Guile, a womenswear boutique that soft-opened on Yorkville Avenue on Saturday, caters to the twenty-somethings in the nearby condo towers, rather than the society dames who venture south from Rosedale to shop. The merchandise includes brands favoured by Nicole Ritchie and the Kardashian sisters, and is squarely on-trend (right now, that means peplums, faux-leather accents and pastel mint and pink). Label junkies can also find—or consign—vintage shoes and handbags, like Gucci and Louboutin pumps ($400-$750) and Balenciaga and Chanel bags ($600 and $3,100, respectively). Read the rest of this entry »
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