It’s not just a line from your favourite TV show; winter really is coming. So get comfy, because it’s going to be a while. Fanciful vintage fashion abounds in Toronto, but let’s be real. As Canadians, a practical wardrobe suits us best. To help you plump up your closet for the cold, we’ve put together some of the best vintage shops for warm winter gear.
Started in 2007 as an online store, Philistine is now a top pick in the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood for men’s and women’s outerwear. Sticking with a style that is cozy, classic and casual has made this collection accessible to anyone. Their men’s collection is primarily stocked with Americana-styled denim and leather as well as a stunning selection of cowboy boots. They also boast a relatively large collection of (mostly leather) quality shoes and boots.
The owners of Vintage Depot have a serious talent for snagging all the best outwear in the city and saving you some time in your search. While not all the merchandise here is vintage, you can always count on some genuine vintage leather, suede and fur jackets. What the shop lacks in ambiance, it makes up for in value. For those on a tight budget looking for durability, Vintage Depot is the ideal spot.
This colourful, spacious shop may remind you of the 1980s, but Timeless Apparel is also the place to find many of the basics for your winter wardrobe. For a stylized casual Friday, Timeless has a monopoly on nylon sports jackets and zip-ups. For all season cyclists and those who are just more practical, this is the spot for weatherproof layers and cozy button-down sweaters for long walks at night. Unlike many other vintage spots, Timeless has an even split of male- and female-friendly items as well as a solid collection of winter-ready shoes and boots in the back room.
For warm but work-ready ensembles, the always-trendy Ossington crowd favours Vintage Mix 1. This finely curated collection takes its cue from the Don Draper era, mixing quirky 1960s pieces with classy staple items. Attention-getters will love unique items like reptile-embossed Italian leather shoes, but Vintage Mix 1 also showcases quality wool cardigans, blazers and long skirts for a timeless layered look.
Public Butter is a mainstay on Queen West. Opened in 2008, this large, eclectic shop has a decidedly San Francisco vibe. More Haight Ashbury in atmosphere than Queen West, Public Butter has everything from quirky long sleeve Bee Gees tees, to motorcycle jackets to fedoras (not to mention an extensive assortment of retro accessories). Word has it that Public Butter also selects some items from the granddaddy shop Black Market Vintage. With the motto “fresh vintage goods daily” this place is sure to have whatever you need.
Opened in December 2014, In Vintage We Trust is relatively new on the Toronto second-hand scene. Bringing much-needed originality to the vintage game, this shop specializes in sports and work wear, primarily for the more masculine-inclined. Reviving 80s and 90s baseball caps, pullovers and sports jackets has given In Vintage We Trust an exclusive advantage. If you’re looking for something to wear to the next Jay’s game, this is your spot.
When the harsh winter winds are nipping at you and you’re fed up with high fashion, retreat into the hidden, but oh-so-familiar Black Market Vintage for your most practical outerwear. Decidedly the 1980s birthplace of vintage in Toronto, this massive basement storeroom is still one of the best places to find unique sweaters, coats and boots with an alternative edge (hot tip: it’s a haven for those with a penchant for sports coats, army fatigues and denim). And with most items permanently priced $10 or less, Black Market hosts some of the best bargains in the city.