In case you haven’t heard, Toronto is home to the second coolest neighbourhood in the world. Vogue (AKA the fashion bible) has placed Toronto’s West Queen West – the strip between Gladstone Avenue and Bathurst Street – amongst 14 other neighbourhoods on a list of the 15 hippest districts across the globe. It’s nice to see the strip and Toronto getting the recognition it deserves, but the strip wasn’t always a desirable place to hang. In the 1960s, West Queen West was a pretty rough hood – the departure of industrial manufacturing left the area full poverty, drug problems, and petty crime. It wasn’t until artists began fleeing west from Queen and Spadina in search of cheaper rent that other creative entrepreneurs started setting up shop – creating an influx of hip cafes, independent retailers, and galleries.
Today “Queen Street West is a verifiable artery of indie patisseries, homegrown labels, and hidden-from-view galleries – hallmarks of hipness, if they existed.” The area is home to some of Toronto’s most popular hotspots including Trinity Bellwoods Park, the Drake Hotel, the Gladstone Hotel, Gravity Pope, Bicyclette Boutique, and more. In leu of the district’s new found fame, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite retail shops in and around the neighbourhood.