Toronto Vintage Hipster shopping guide! Queen Street West, Kensington Market stores.

courage my love, toronto vintage

Shopping for alternative fashion in Toronto takes a bit of know-how. If you follow the tourists to Eaton Center or Yonge-Dundas Square, you’ll be disappointed (unless you enjoy Adidas and GAP).

Courage, my loves! In this article, we’ll explore the coolest vintage, indie and underground boutiques, mainly found in two areas: Kensington Market and Queen Street West.

black market, secondhand clothes

After our Gloomth fashion shoot, my local comrades Linda Tea, Mao and Ashavari took me to their favorite shops on Queen St W. This is the area that houses the OCAD art school (which looks like a brick held up by chopsticks) and MuchMusic studio.

First, we followed the arrow down the narrow stairs of Black Market Vintage (256-A Queen St W).

korean street style girl

If you see fellow shoppers like this girl, you’re probably in the right place.

pentagram pizza shirt

Black Market has an immense selection of secondhand clothes. Some are on the “80s soccer mom” side, such as sweatshirts with cheesy prints of dogs in baskets. However, there’s also a rocking selection of band tees and this “Pentagram pizza slices” wonder.

see no evil cats

This See / Hear / Speak No Evil shirt put the middle cat in headphones.

cat without ears on head

Instead, I think they should have printed a Scottish Fold cat, like my earless fuzz-face! (Tons of Basil Farrow photos on his cat blog.)

heart shaped hippie sunglasses

Two of hearts. Black Market has a wall of novelty sunglasses, studded belts and bracelets, fishnet tights, and other alt accouterments.

queen victoria dress

We were joined by Karen O’Keefe (singer of Amy’s Arms — remember my concert review?) How sweet, the pigtails and flowers in her hair.

borderline toronto goth punk clothes

Together, we ducked into Borderline (425 Queen W #217). As you can see from the display, Borderline sells brands like Lip Service and Hellbunny.

However, for a local designer who makes cyber-techno-Industrial fashion, I recommend Plastik Wrap. Designer Adriana is based in Toronto and sells futuristic gear for men and women through her site.

john fluevog shoes heel

Onward to a Canadian institution, John Fluevog Shoes (242 Queen St West). I’ve collected several pairs of Fluevogs over the years. They stand out for their workmanship and alt styling. Many have Victorian elements, such as these claw foot high heels.

fluevog banker shoes, Kitschy Boom

Fluevog carries both men’s and women’s styles. I’m particularly fond of his boots like the Swordfish Edwardian.

cameron house, insects on building toronto

Across the street, it looks like the live music venue, Cameron House, is having an insect infestation.

queen street west shops, moog audio

Lots of old-style buildings and cool stores (Moog Audio) on this street.

original toronto prom dress shop

Pastel stars and poofy gowns? Original Toronto (515 Queen St W) looks like my kind of party.

We goofed off at the entrance before heading in. Taeden Hall and I are wearing Lolita ruffle dresses by her clothing label, Gloomth and the Cult of Melancholy. How sweet of her to give me this Chrysanthemum dress, made of cotton and with tiers of ruffles.

spiked high heel shoes, rainbow corset

Original is possibly my favorite boutique in the city. The name speaks the truth: you’ll find one-of-kind garments, like hedgehog-spiked shoes and sequined tulle corsets.

irregular choice bunny rabbit heel shoes

Linda found these Irregular Choice polka dot shoes, with bow-tied bunnies for heels! This brand makes an amazing Tic Tac Toe platform as well.

rainbow wildfox sweater, puff dress

At the entrance, I fell for this pastel rainbow crochet sweater. On the upper floor, there is a dizzying selection of prom dresses and bridal wear.

queen street west prom dresses boutique

We saw girls trying on glamorous dresses and accessories that would make the Queen Mother proud.

original Donna Saslove owner, patricia fields bag

Like Patricia Field in NYC, owner Donna Saslove is the life of the store. Go visit Original and give her a hug for us.

kensington market hippie houses

A few blocks away lies Kensington Market, known as the most diverse, funky and historic part of town. The Victorian-style houses are painted with bright shades. Many have a hippie vibe, with Buddha statues and Tibetan flags.

mr rogers community protection sign

While officially a “National Historic Site of Canada,” Kensington’s real protector appears to be Mr Rogers and his trusty cardigan.

day of the dead skull ceramics

Anthony Bourdain would love the cluster of cafes, which include artisan cheese shops and gourmet coffeehouses. But we were here to shop — so we followed the row of cowboy boots that lead to Courage My Love (14 Kensington Ave, Toronto).

dia de los muertos skull figurines

Taeden told me that she and her brother used to spend hours in this store, marveling at the 1970s lace dresses, yin yang buttons, Mexican mirrors, and other vintage oddities.

sugar skulls day of dead collection

We all stopped to take photos of the Day of the Dead skeletons. Haven’t seen so many sugar skulls since my adventures in Mazatlan.

kensington mural, alphonse mucha art nouveau

I recommend wandering through Kensington Market, sampling food and poking your head into the many little eclectic stores. Look for the mural influenced by my favorite painter, Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

shaking dog's paw

Chat with the store owners, and shake a paw or two along the way. Not bad for a walking tour, right?

toronto clubwear lingerie

I leave you with a few bonus photos. I ran into this clubwear / lingerie boutique while walking aimlessly around downtown Toronto.

gothic mannequins

Not sure what the mannequin boy did to deserve this punishment.

goth bra, lace bodysuit

What’s your impression of the fashion scene in Toronto? Are there any places you’d like to add to my list? Leave a comment and let me know.

For more alternative attractions, check out the rest of my posts about the city.

toronto vintage stores, used clothing shops

Don’t forget to follow my daily updates (such as the snaps above) on my @lacarmina Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.

I’m currently in NYC – join my TV shoot and party with me on Friday the 13th! Full info here. Thanks for being part of my blogging journey!

SHARE & COMMENT

  • Andres

    Come to Chile

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      I want to. Easter island Wahh

  • Val

    cute

  • Melody

    OMG!!!! In love!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      yay!

  • Vegan Zombie

    NIIIICE

  • Lynn

    Love !

  • wynn

    Love your dress LC.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      I love Gloomth!

  • Juan

    wow wow it is the best

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Xoxo

  • Noriko

    o(⌒―⌒)o♪ THANX for this guide!

  • lalit kumar

    Great post and Thanks for guide and sharing this news..

    see : http://just4evesboutique.in/

  • Chez

    Cute:)!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Coxo

  • Greg

    u rule!!

  • Constance

    Original

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Love this store!!

  • Sher

    Can’t wait to check these out!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Take pics!

  • Craig Cockburn

    you guys didnt go to blooming on queen street it amazing store

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      We tried it was closed!

      • Craig Cockburn

        that too bad i was down last monday and it was pretty cool store i trying to find a website for it but there nothing unless they have a facebook page

  • Uddy

    Thanksmuch for this guide.

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Pleasure, thanks for finding it helpful.

  • Maker

    did you see any steam punk stores?

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Not this time sadly

  • Iadanza Antonio

    Reminds us of New Orleans particularly Magazine Street my wife really likes your choice of shoes this time love that Baby Basil for us!

    • http://www.lacarmina.com/blog lacarmina

      Want to go to New Orleans so badly… Hopefully very soon :-)

      • Iadanza Antonio

        Would be wonderful!

  • brittah

    blue hair looks good

  • Reverenze

    wow what a wonderful shop

    i love the hedgehog spike shoes and the day of skeleton figures