Shopping West Queen in Toronto

It was Saul Korman’s weekend, as he joyfully celebrated 60 years in business with much fanfare and many devoted fans. Celebrity guests included local politicians and broadcasters; Korman even had a Tim Horton’s ice cream sundae named in his honor, with proceeds going to the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation. But even Mr. Korman acknowledges (often, and on radio) that there’s no better men’s store on earth than Harry Rosen. That said (and who can argue?), I had some fun visiting the West Queen West Street section of town, checking out the up-and-coming trendy boutiques that boldly combine fashion, music and design.

Jeffrey Brown at Brown's

On West Queen (but not quite West Queen West), I was very impressed with Brown’s, a family-owned specialty store (founded in 1928!) that caters to shorter (5’7″ and under) guys while maintaining a good balance between clothing and contemporary sportswear. All the great brands were there, many of which make up special product especially for the store. While I was there, a big guy ventured in off the street; Jeffrey Brown asked if he was shopping for a friend. He explained he was shopping for himself and was truly disappointed when told they don’t carry his size. “But send in your smaller friends,” Jeff suggested, telling me that a good chunk of his business comes from referrals.

Alex Hood and Matt Robinson at Klaxon Howl

Further west, Klaxon Howl (a cool retail store that also does some wholesale business) blends vintage military with its own designs, including work shirts, waxed jackets and selvedge denim. At the time of my visit, the store was a bit out of sorts as the guys were preparing a huge order to ship to Japan. (In photo: Alex Hood and owner Matt Robinson)

Kane St. Louis at Simon Carter

I loved the quirky British- inspired designs at Simon Carter London. According to Kane St. Louis, best sellers include their world-renowned cufflinks ($75-$195 retail) and the exclusive Liberty-printed woven shirts ($110-$235 retail).


I also discovered some great contemporary clothes and accessories at Nomad, where Jesar Gabino explained that their gorgeous barn siding walls were actually discovered by accident when they ripped down the old plaster to expand.

And speaking of store walls, check out these butterflies by local artist Kristi Malakoff, far more beautiful in person that the photo indicates. Fashion and art: what better bedfellows?

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  1. avatarGreenShag says:

    West Queen West has quickly become the meca for menswear in Toronto. There’s actually now over 15 menswear shops in a 10 block concentration along Queen St West. And it’s a great mix of local designers and brands, amongst well established international brands. The strip is quickly becoming the voice of mens fashion in Toronto. Stay tuned.

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