Fashion in Toronto is as diverse as the city itself, boasting an ever-growing lineup of young, local designers who are making waves in the industry. These self-made local talents that line Toronto’s urban streets are budding, contemporary fashion designers with their own aesthetic, voice and fresh takes on everything from edgy accessories to hyper-feminine looks, menswear and more.
These designers know how to make it work and, at the end of the day, are the ones that stand out to consumers in a constantly expanding and oversaturated retail market. Different from major retailers, local shops give you the opportunity to actually run the chance of meeting the designer while shopping at his or her store.
Here are seven local Toronto designers you can actually meet right in their stores.
505 Queen St. W
As one of the most recognizable lifestyle brands in Toronto, everyone is wearing Vitaly. Inspired by machine-shop process, Vitaly’s designs are inspired from the industrial nature of the manufacturing process. Predominantly known for its unisex jewelry, Vitaly also recently released a line of denim and leather jackets. Founder and designer Shane Foran has been known to work from the Queen Street store, and depending on when you stop by, you may bump into him and get the chance to discuss the latest trends in streetwear with him.
695 Queen St. W
Hayley Elsaesser’s vibrant colours and eccentric prints have become a go-to celebrity style favourite. The Toronto-based designer started her line while she was finishing school in Brisbane, Australia and has since become more and more popular. The designer’s flagship store is located in the trendy Queen West area where you can find Elsaesser herself working away in her back office space.
91 Ossington Ave.
Co-founded by long-time besties, Rose Chang and Stephanie Drabik, Crywolf is a clothing and accessories brand fueled by a DIY mentality. Crywolf’s main concept is to produce limited edition, collectable and affordable fashion designs all based on Chang and Drabik’s sketch work. There’s a good chance of running into Chang and Drabik at their Ossington shop, along with their adorable store pup.
260 Spadina Ave. #305
Created by Jennifer Torosian and Raed Ali, the Jennifer Torosian brand is known for its refined and fresh interpretations of contemporary wardrobe essentials. Based in the city, the Jennifer Torosian clothing line could be described as “luxury with ease” as its functional designs are met with modern sensibility. Stop by their store on Spadina and you might just run into Torosian or Ali.
990 Queen St. W
Menswear company 18 Waits is composed of a select team of designers and artisans under creative director and founder Daniel Torjman and if you are lucky enough, you might actually run into one of them at the flagship store. 18 Waits is a Toronto-based menswear company but it is more than just a clothing line, “It’s a way of life inspired by a joie de vivre and an appreciation of the finer things in life.”
1130 College St.
Eleven Thirty is a storefront studio in the city founded by self-made designers and creatives Mariel Gonzalez and Alexa Schoorl. Since this duo works at the store/studio, you’re bound to run into one of them at some point. The brand produces bold, stylish leather handbags that have an uncommon beauty to them. All of Eleven Thirty’s goods are made to order in house while the brand works to eliminate waste production by using every possible part of the genuine leather cowhides.
1024 Dundas St. West
While strolling along Dundas West, a stop at Armed is a must, especially if you’re looking for some of the greatest jewelry and accessories in town. Desiree Girlato, the owner and designer, hand makes almost all of the jewelry you’ll find in store. And with her studio located directly behind the space, you’re more than likely to bump into re-merchandising the store or picking styles for an upcoming photoshoot.
Are there any other shops in Toronto where you can meet the designers? Share them in the comment section.
Featured Image: Daniel Torjman of 18 Waits via Instagram/@18waits
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