This is the second installment in my TCAF like a local posts. As I wrote this post, I wondered whether anyone coming in for TCAF would want to read about Toronto’s fashion. However, if last year’s programming included a well attended Fashion In Comics panel discussion and Peter Birkemoe is wearing Alexander McQueen to the festival, I figure there must be other fashion lovers coming to TCAF.
To dress well in Toronto, you need to understand that the weather here is fickle, especially between seasons (yes, May counts as between seasons). It’s not unusual for us to experience jumps from below freezing to 10*C in the same day. As you can see from the above screenshot, it’s near the end of April and we’re coming out of a cold snap that brought snow flurries; the week prior, the temperature was in the 20s.
Plan accordingly and have versatile layers that can handle a sky that begins gorgeously sunny and devolves into a chilly downpour within a few hours or vice versa. Don’t pack until a week ahead – at the earliest – and keep your eye on the weather forecasts.
As for Toronto’s fashion style, Torontonians can be very well put together, but they are not risk takers. I think it’s partly because of the weather that Toronto generally leans on the conservative and pragmatic side when it comes to fashion style. I mean, when it’s blizzarding outside and you’re walking 20 minutes to work, you could forgo looking cute – or you could be a fashion trooper and get frostbite. It’s your call.
With that being said, Toronto’s fashion industry has been developing in the past decade with help from Ryerson University’s fashion design program, the city’s official fashion week and the FAT festival as well as more fashion based art exhibits in the city. I’ve also seen a lot of love for local designers like Pink Tartan, David Dixon, Heidi Ackerman… Many of their pieces (as well as those by other Canadian designers) may be found in boutiques in Yorkville.
If Yorkville is too rich for your blood, I would suggest you avail yourself of Toronto’s vintage shopping scene. I’d describe Toronto’s vintage shopping as a jack of all trades and master of none. We have a little of everything: premium designer consignment, well curated traditional vintage, quirky punky party wear, dirt cheap basics. I’d even go as far as to say that our vintage clothing stores are reflective of the areas they operate in and they’re one way to get the vibe of a neighbourhood in The City of Neighbourhoods.
Here’s a handy map of many of the vintage clothing stores in Toronto. http://www.vintagecrawltoronto.com/google-map (Note: Kind Exchange is a used clothing store, not vintage, and the best selection is in the 379 Queen location. Not included in the map are designer consignment stores worth checking out. I always try to pop by I Miss You and Fashionably Yours).
If you want to know more about vintage shopping in Toronto, feel free to drop by my table when it’s slow; I’ll be able to make recommendations based on taste and budget.
If you’re looking to score a fashion deal closer to TCAF, you can walk a few blocks west on Bloor toward Avenue where you’ll find Winners, a giant outlet store that has been expanding its “Runway” section in the past two decades or so. It’s like Nordstrom’s Rack, but the selection is not as extensive, especially it comes to shoes. Lucky for you, this Winners location is one of the two best in Toronto (the other being Yonge/College) where the designer merchandise lands first before it’s marked down to clearance when it doesn’t sell and then shipped out to locations farther away from the city core.
I’m not sure how Winners appraises its inventory, but I’ve often found that less known top tier/diffusion/contemporary designers will not be recognized by staff and these brands will get marked down far, far below the standard 40%-60% off retail. The trick is, these pieces will not be in the “Runway” section. It helps to have a sharp and experienced eye and hand to recognize something of higher quality among a sea of cheap textiles. Even if you don’t buy a Winners blunder, you’ll probably still score a good deal. If you are into flash fashion sites like Gilt or Hautelook, Winners will consistently beat their prices.