Thursday, July 29, 2010

Magic Pony

Simply put, Magic Pony is a creative culture hub. It's buzzing with all types of events and activities.
It serves as both an art gallery as well as a retail space providing an extensive selection of published books, collectible vinyl toys, special apparel, and unique lifestyle novelties.
You can find all sorts of affordable Kid Robot and Tokidoki toys, along with rarer stuff from artists like Gary Baseman, Michael Lau and David Choe. There is also a nice collection of books, in addition to magazines such as Giant Robot.
Besides the incredibly large store front display, my favourite part of this space is the gallery at the back. A clean and minimalistic space currently hosting a lovely little "Friends With You" exhibition.
From their humble beginnings at Kensington Market in 2002 selling rare Asian toys, to their current Queen Street West store front, they're one of Toronto's most prized possessions.
It's also kinda cool to find out that they went on to open another space in 2008 called "Narwhal Art Projects" which is now currently hosting Roots collaboration with Canadian artist Douglas Coupland.
If you're in the area, you must stop by. You'll love it, and the staff are extremely pleasant and enthusiastic about their store. The store really is as amazing as their name! Haha.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Queen Street West (West Side) / Part Three

This will be the final post I will be making on Queen Street West. This is the blending portion of where the artsy community fades into the touristy mainstream portion of Queen Street.
Da Zone was another one of Toronto's infamous sneaker spots back in the day. It was one of the specialty boutiques under the umbrella of Canada's "Si Vous Play Sports" family. Like many other sneaker boutiques the stumbling economy didn't help its cause too well.
It was one of those places where you knew you could catch a decent deal whenever you needed to. Da Zone, rest in peace.
Travel a bit further east, and the store names begin to appear more familiar to the average person. Canadian Dov Charney's American Apparel...
Urban Outfitters... (the two Toronto locations are essentially within walking distance.)
I still enjoy visiting this place. It's kinda one of those guilty pleasures, because a franchised retail experience like this kind of defeats the purpose of the intimately snug little niche cultures it supports.
But I mean, look at some of the stuff it has... yeah!! The Sartorialist's book!!
And I've crossed over Spadina once again, as you see "Nextdoor" which I talked about in an earlier post.
You also have you're typical downtown stores. "Adidas Originals" where you can find your David Beckham and Jeremy Scott collections stocked. And Canada's main street friendly "Neon" boutique.
So yeah, that's Queen Street West. Some more vintage stores, skate shops and music retail spaces along the way, but for the most part, you have you're mall staples like H&M, Gap, and Zara.
And that brings a close to the Toronto Chapter. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Queen Street West (West Side) / Part Two

Continuing on from this previous Queen Street post, here are just a few more retail highlights along this west portion of Queen Street.
"Delphic" is a beautiful Queen Street West boutique carrying the likes of Acne, Philip Sparks, Filippa K, and Rogan.
But it also has your more vibrant options covered as well from the likes of Rockers NYC, Cassette Playa, and Alife. According to Toronto Life, it used to even carry some Henrik Vibskov stuff as well.
This retail space was in fact brought to you by the very same people who honoured Toronto with Klaxon Howl. Being the unprepared loser I am, I forgot to find Klaxon Howl while I was there. But Delphic's a great place to visit nonetheless. A ton of interesting art books in there too!
"Sydney's" is probably menswear's best retail experience in Toronto. They carry the most sought after labels in the world.
Most of their stuff is that high-end gothic drape stuff; Rick Owens, M.A+, Julius, Boris Bidjan Saberi, Carol Christian Poell, and Julius. But they also carry stuff like Dries Van Noten and Jil Sander. You can also catch the latest issue of SOME/THINGS magazine in there as well.
They're even linked in on infamous street style photographer Tommy Ton's website "Jak & Jill."
However, their retail space was unfortunately damaged in a recent Queen Street fire started in Deluxe this past May. They have decided to move the shop across the street, hopefully opening the doors to their new 682 Queen Street West space this August.
I never had the opportunity to visit their original space. But it looked beautiful from what I've seen.
Roots has recently collaborated with Canadian artist Douglas Coupland on a limited edition collection, with some interesting retail spaces to go along with it. He's worked on a variety of fascinating art projects including this digital orca out in Vancouver.
I was just passing by, and I saw this store called "Bigfoot." It didn't seem like anything too special, but I took a photo of it because the sign out front caught my attention. Plastered over the little 50% off sign is this paper that says $25 / pair. I don't know, but I think that gives a good indication of what the economy did to Toronto's sneaker shops.
I want to finish off, with one of the few streetwear stores left in this area. This is Proper Reserve. It carries a wide range of 10.Deep, Mishka, and Acapulco Gold, along with vintage snapbacks and Polo pieces. Staff is friendly as well.
So, that's all for now. I have one more post on Queen Street West coming up. After that, I'll probably have an opportunity to begin my coverage on New York City. So much incredible stuff I want to share on with you guys!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Queen Street West (West Side) / Part One

This will be the first of three posts on Queen Street West, the portion of it that is situated west of Spadina. It'll mostly consist of clothing stores located within this hipstery community. Haha, I mean "creative and artistic" community.
To begin. Fred Perry, super master of table tennis, and tennis too. Haha. A classic look I always adore. To be honest, I don't really like wearing polo's, but I'm always down for a classic Fred Perry one.
That little white space in the middle is "Robber." It's just for the ladies. A good place to pick up on some Alternative Apparel tees, A.P.C. madras pieces, vintage Steven Alan or some fascinating little jewellery.
"Preloved" is a favourite around LG Fashion Week here in Toronto. It mostly makes environmentally conscious womenswear from reclaimed vintage fabrics. It also has an impressive list of celebrity clients for an independent little Canadian label.
"Spectacle" is an incredible retail space specializing in fashionable eyewear. It has an amazing stocklist carrying a vast collection of frames from brands like Cutler and Gross, Moscot, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Super, Mosley Tribes, Paul Smith, Oliver Peoples, Tom Ford, Persol, and many more.
Buckler. Andrew Buckler's line. Yes, yes. Classic Americana heritage with a bold and edgy British twist. There's always interesting stuff to be had here.
And here we have all that remains of Stolen Riches. The recession definitely hit Toronto's streetwear family hard over the past couple of years.
This was one of the most adored sneaker shops in Toronto, with an impressive streetwear stocklist to match its incredible retail space.
To be honest, Livestock and Capsule are really the only ones of their kind left to visit. Streetwear moved on though, right? Small independent sneaker boutiques may soon completely be a thing of the past, trends come and go, but all this will never be forgotten.
We'll look back one day and say, "Hey, remember those times when we discovered the colourful world of streetwear, of brightly coloured fitteds, t-shirts and sneakers." Stolen Riches, may you rest in peace. You will be missed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Queen Street West / Music & Book Shops

Queen Street West, being the creative community it is, obviously has its share of lovely little music shops. This would in fact be one of the better places to track down that older vinyl record you've been searching for or those newer vinyl and compact disc selections you couldn't find at HMV.
"Rotate This" is your vinyl-obsessive music retail shop, offering independent artists from a variety of differnt genres.
Some of their top sellers lately have been Ariel Pink, Flying Lotus, LCD Soundsystem, and Male Bonding, but they definitely have all your older favourites as well. It's a laid back and personal shopping experience, one and a half blocks west of Bathurst.
"Slinky Music" is everyone's favourite music store. They carry the finest MOOG equipment along with an amazing vinyl and compact disc selection.
Old Techno, Funk, Hip-Hop, Soul, and Disco records. Be sure not to miss the $1 clearance bins as well.
Crystal Castles, Flying Lotus, wait... Rusko and Kode 9. Haha, yea. Just from the albums they display on their store front, you know you've come to the right place to get your hands on your favourite dubstep releases as well.
"Cosmos West Records" is known to be one of the best spots for DJ's to find some of the rarest vinyl releases out there. Prices here are known to be a little high here, but there's a price you have to pay for quality, right? The likes of Madlib and MF Doom have been seen here, so it's definitely a shop you should check out.
"Neurotica" has been around these parts for a long time, and has gained a loyal following. It's your music consignment spot.
A fit staff to help you find your obscurest music desires. Definitely stop by for rare vinyl, tapes, videos, and compact discs.
But don't limit your record search to just music shops. There are a lot of vintage shops that sell random odds and ends like Amelia.
They often have a box of under-priced vinyl just waiting to be played again. I mean just look at Mr. Billy Joel sitting there.
Though a little aged, I'm sure there are many people out there who want you "Just The Way You Are." Haha. While you're there, don't forget to browse through some of the old books they have lying around as well.
Speaking of books, "Type Books" is one of Toronto's most interesting book stores, with a great selection of artsy books to serve the community around it well.
Definitely stop by if you're looking for something interesting to read. I'm sure the staff will be helpful to you.
Queen Street West really has stuff for any creatively driven person. A lot more Queen Street West coverage to come. Come by the blog whenever you have the chance.