Fresh off the success of his pop-up shop on Ossington (extended three months past its expected close date) and celebrating five years of being in business, designer Philip Sparks is opening his first standalone retail space in an airy former garage just off Ossington on Foxley. Though it looks tiny from the exterior, the space is deceptively large—there’s a hidden downstairs level almost twice the size of the main floor. The shop is replete with the requisite knick-knacks of many new store (and restaurant) openings, like vintage roller skates and typewriters, but these curios actually have some backstory: Sparks has owned one of the typewriters for years (it was actually used to fashion a modified version of his logo signage) and picked up the others over years of visiting flea markets with his partner, Now magazine’s Andrew Sardone. The official opening is this Saturday, with more merchandise for men and women coming in daily (Sparks says it should be fully stocked by the end of March), but the entire collection is not yet in store.
Unfortunately, shoes won’t be available this season, since Sparks manufactures them in Portugal and says the economic climate there doesn’t make dealing with production a simple task. Our favourites were the mackintosh in taupe with navy blue piping ($650), the rusty red trousers ($250) and the patterned Bermuda shorts ($295) (the shorts match a blazer but no matter what the runways suggest, we can’t condone shorts and a blazer together). In accessories, the buttery lemon-yellow briefcase ($595) was a winner, as were the wide braided belts ($120) from a Toronto-based company that’s been in business since World War II (Sparks is mum on which one, not wanting others to get wind of where he sources the fabric). No one could miss the store, since its all-glass front is like a beacon to all those leaving Ideal Coffee—but if you somehow get lost, look for the gigantic lit green arrow sign Sparks found at a salvage shop in the Junction. He says, “I knew if I could find one of those, people would come.” We’d call Sparks Toronto’s Kevin Costner, but we wouldn’t want to insult him.
Philip Sparks, 162 Ossington Ave. (side entrance off Foxley St.), 647-348-1827, philipsparks.com.