Queen and Spadina is now a massive encampment of the big-brand chain stores, those in search of indigenous culture stroll west of Bathurst for their art, their cocktails and their clothes. The strip of Queen between Markham and Niagara now must be one of the coolest shopping districts in the western world: we think it rivals Berlin’s Mitte (and, actually, strangely, shares a certain style with that modernist mecca).
Treat yourself to some authentic Italian footwear at Capri. Not only does this chic shoe store carry masculine but sleek casual leather footwear like Emilio Capitani shoes with metallic detailing ($230) and a striking orange pair of Shoto shoes ($250), it also sells men’s bags. Pick up a leather laptop case by Dutch designer H.J. DeRooy ($400) or some brown lace-up dress shoes by Corvari ($295). Either way, you’ll be stylin’. Capri also boasts a very helpful sales staff. 695 Queen St. W. 416-364-4801
The most notable thing about Delphic is its stellar selection of kicks. The standby Gravis leather slip-ons ($119) compete with the Adidas high-tops ($180) for attention, but the new yacht shoes ($109) will be what really grabs the ladies’ attention. Check out some preppy sweaters with this season’s obligatory stripes ($230) by Umbro. Faded gray Acne jeans ($325) will go smashingly with the Rockers “Death to Black and White Oppressors” T-shirt, ironically priced at $60. While you’re there, pick up a funky Gravis backpack ($132). 706 Queen St. W. 416-603-3334
For guys who have never and will never wear a tie: it’s all-casual, with an echo of skateboard-jock. The store boasts 40 percent menswear with brands like Religion, 7 For All Mankind, Juicy and Penguin. Check out the fresh selection of Penguin polo shirts (a stylish black striped number sells for $110), blazers and Seven jeans ($212). More relaxed summer wear like crisp Penguin board shorts ($75) can be found as well. 709 Queen St. W. 416-504-0780, www.seveneighty.ca.
You might be fooled into thinking you’ve stepped into a Queen West gallery rather than a clothing store. You’ll be greeted with poems on the wall (“I tripped on a little white lie”). A hanging sculpture holds several leather-detailed messenger bags from the Bully line. A haven for wealthy ironists: An embroidered button-down short-sleeved shirt ($180) will make you look like a painter without the hassle of attending art school. Original Bully T-shirts ($79) exclaim that you’re “Lookin’ Good” and distressed jeans ($220) come in white for braver shoppers. You can pick up some less distinctive t-shirts on the sale rack for $20. 711 Queen St. W. 416-955-0674, www.bullygarments.com.
Carrying brands like Griffen, Trovata, and the sought-after but rare CP Company, Kama Kazi boasts a staff that really knows fashion. Though it’s small, the sleek and colourful boutique is a plethora of style with its Christian Lacroix silk ties ($98-135), striking button-down shirts by the same designer ($265) and linen flap pocket blazers ($575) by Griffen. Store employee Kevin Munro attests, “Our male clients are very stylin’ and they know their stuff.” Pick up some Drykorn plaid pants ($295) for your inner golfer (or punk) and wear the salmon circle diamond pattern shirt ($265) by Andrea Palombini on your next hot date. Believe us, she’ll be impressed. 744 Queen St. W. 416-304-0887, www.kamakazistyle.com.
When we visited, the store name wasn’t on the window yet (it simply reads “Custom”); Sydney’s just set up shop in May, and has already built a loyal following with its custom clothing. Though the store does carry some women’s clothing (you can convince your date to come in with you), the boutique is geared towards men. Posh suits and M0851 leather messenger bags aren’t the only goodies to tempt you, custom jeans made of Japanese denim ($330 for first pair, discounted afterwards) and suits ($1,200 for the first suit, discounted afterwards) will make you feel like a million bucks. If you’re not ready for tailor-made suits, try the selection of Daniele Alessandrini suits ($895) and shirts ($210). 795 Queen St. W. 416-603-3369.