I arrived in Toronto via train from Guelph and I was really excited about exploring such a beautiful city. I only had a few days planned in the city and I had 2 assignments to complete and I was battling a cold (which I ended up losing to) so time was of the essence. I did the first thing most people do when they want to find things to do in a new city; I googled where to go vintage shopping and boy did I find the motherload!
When people get together to talk about which cities have amazing vintage, Toronto should be towards the top of the list; mainly Kensington Market. Kensington Market is a cozy, walkable bohemian neighbourhood which draws artists and tourists to its boutique-like shops, vintage stores, and art spaces. There is a great selection of food options, ethnic grocery stores, cafe’s, bakeries and small eateries. My dad also claimed he found the best coffee of our whole trip whilst at The Market. The buildings around the streets are full of colour, unique items, trees and amazing people. I was excited to start exploring and of course, sniff out some amazing vintage.
My favourite store, hands down, was Exile Vintage. When I first walked in, I was a bit overwhelmed by the stuffed racks especially when I noticed they were mainly 90’s and more modern stuff. As my eyes traveled further down the store, I noticed the vintage got older by the decade and was really well organised by style. I found a rack with a few 50’s dresses on it and as I pulled out a few things to try on, I noticed the store just seemed to keep growing. Further down the back, I discovered what I called, the motherload! So many racks full of amazing vintage day dresses, cocktail and evening style dresses, and even gowns. I grabbed a few more items and went into a change room. A special thank you and shout out to the amazing staff member who helped me out; upon learning my style and size, I was just flooded with all manner of vintage pretties that I just had to try on. Some things were too small or not very flattering, but a whole lot of things fit me like a dream. I was in trouble!
Exile Vintage is one of the best vintage stores I have ever been too. The staff was more than happy to help me out and find me many beautiful and unique pieces. I honestly felt very special and like a real-life Barbie doll playing dress ups. I had way more fun than I have ever had! I highly recommend checking out the store if you are ever in Toronto; although I warn you now that you may leave with your arms full… I bought about 7 dresses!
62 Kensington Ave / Tel: 416-595-7199
Another great store was Bungalow. The store was very open and spacious and a nice mix of modern and true vintage. I found two fabulous dresses whilst there which I love. The owner was really nice and super happy to know his stock will be going home with someone who loves vintage and appreciates it.
If you ever get the chance to go to Toronto and you love a bit of vintage shopping, get down to Kensington Market. I spent the whole day there and didn’t go into half the vintage stores that were open. A lot of the stores are stuffed with vintage items and clothing and I recommend looking high and low to make sure you try to see as much as you can. The Market is also a great place to stop for a snack as there are heaps of cute little restaurants and bars where you can grab a drink and some tapas to keep you going. In hindsight, I should have brought a trailer to put all my new purchases in so my arms didn’t fall off by the end of the day. Each store is well priced, some items were a bargain and others were right on the money. I didn’t feel I overpaid for anything which is always a bonus.
The rest of Toronto was an amazing blur; one of my personal highlights was going to the George Street Diner which is a must for any fans of the film ‘What If’/’The F-word’ starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan. As a huge fan of the movie, it was really exciting to sit in the same booth that they used in the movie and geek out. The owner was more than happy to tell me all about filming and the history of the diner, as well as let me take as many photos as I wanted. It was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a cup of tea. I discovered the film when I was a week into my move from Australia to Dublin, Ireland. I found the move to a city where I knew no one a bit of a struggle so I decided to go to the movies and chose ‘What If’ as it looked like a nice, light rom-com. I fell in love with it instantly and parts of the film are even set in Dublin (I saw footage of the bus I used to get home and to college and I flipped out!). To be able to sit where so many iconic scenes were filmed was very surreal as I never thought I’d ever get to Toronto; sometimes I watch the movie just to see the clips of Dublin. It feels like home.
I wish I had more time to explore Toronto but my studies kept me inside my hotel for a few days. I also succame to my illness a few days in and had to go to the doctors to get medication. I would love to return to Toronto and give it another go; they have so many great restaurants, theatre productions, attractions, and shops. I hope one day the wind carries me back there.