14 must-have items of summer
The season is short: here’s how to make the most of it
Bamboo patio plates: Xenia Taler
1 The Toronto designer Xenia Taler started out creating backsplashes for giant kitchen showrooms. Now she sells stationery and bamboo dinnerware at indie Toronto boutiques, as well as big-name stores like Anthropologie and West Elm. For barbecues and garden parties, bamboo dishes are the new melamine: they’re sustainable, chemical-free and dishwasher-friendly. And when they’re designed by Taler, they’re also super-cute, available in a variety of cheerful zigzag, spotted and striped pastel prints. $52 for a set of four. xeniataler.com.
A statement beach blanket: Kol Kid
2 From Big Mouth, the company that brought us inflatable pool floats shaped like doughnuts and swans, comes a collection of beach blankets guaranteed to get you noticed among the terry cloth–toting masses. In this case, polyester is a good thing: the lakeside throws are durable, soft and machine washable. They’re fun enough for kids but roomy enough to fit full-size adults. Our favourite is the giant avocado, though the tri-colour Rocket Pop is a close (and cool) second. $40–$45. 674 Queen St. W., 416-681-0368, kolkid.ca.
A bewitching kids’ store: Curiosa
3 This Harry Potter–themed curiosity shop, done up with dark hues and Dickensian faux-gaslight, looks like it belongs on Diagon Alley instead of Queen West. But you don’t have to be a total Potterhead to enjoy the spectacle. More magic-inspired Urban Outfitters than Disney theme shop, the store offers a mix of knick-knacks and novelty items, including books about tarot, fortune-telling and magic; a vintage token machine that allows customers to create their own good luck charms; and gear devoted to the four Hogwarts houses. (A “List of Enemies” notebook is an essential for any self-respecting Slytherin). 1273 Queen St. W., 647-341-0394.
A vegan-leather tote: Nordstrom
4 We’re obsessed with the Los Angeles brand Ban.Do, which works with indie designers to create fun, fizzy slogan tees and accessories, usually in shades of millennial pink. Our current favourite item is a waterproof vegan-leather grapefruit tote. It’s work-friendly and doubles as a beachy cooler bag—ideally suited for chilling LaCroix cans, rosé bottles and other pink drinks. $45. nordstrom.com.
A surfer’s paradise: Surf the Greats
5 The 6 may not be the first city you think of when it comes to catching the ultimate swell, but it turns out the Great Lakes offer some pretty great waves. So says Antonio Lennert, a local surf swami and the founder of Leslieville’s new boutique dedicated to all things gnarly, with a massive selection of sleek surfboards and stand-up paddleboards. Part retail space, part café, it’s a place where surfers congregate over coffee, noobs can sign up for lessons and camps, and posers can pick up board shorts, floppy hats and the same Rip Curl neoprene surf jacket that Blake Lively wore in The Shallows. 276 Carlaw Ave., 647-479-8969, surfthegreats.org.
Custom shades: Fellow Earthlings
6 Husband-and-wife team Christopher and Sydney Seggie hand-make colourful specs from recycled manufacturing materials. Customers can choose from a huge range of shapes, colours and lenses online, creating their own unique Frankenglasses: round mint crystal frames with gold mirrored lenses, for example, or tortoiseshell cat-eyes with brown lenses. Fans of the brand include Canada’s first couple: Sophie has a pair of cat-eye frames, while Justin wears aviators with vintage leather detailing. $300–$400. fellowearthlings.com.
Pretty pot pipes: Easy Tiger
7 The Vancouver ceramicist Lindsey Hampton makes cannabis paraphernalia so pretty you’ll want to display it on your coffee table (and you can—it’s practically legal!). Her hand-crafted pipes measure about nine centimetres across and come in two versions of rainbow ombré, with a ring shape that makes for an easy grip and thus a more potent toke. Bonus: she also makes tiny, matching ombré stoneware mini-dishes that work well as ashtrays. $155. 1447 Dundas St. W., 647-748-6161, easytigergoods.com.
Killer beach reads: Queen Books
8 A new bookstore opening in Toronto is like a baby being born on The Handmaid’s Tale: rare, sacred and cause for celebration. Queen Books, a small Leslieville storefront, is sweet and folksy, with books displayed on antique tables and well-trodden Persian rugs underfoot. The robust collection, hand-picked by owners Alex Snider and Liz Burns, includes a hefty pile of engrossing beach reads with a literary tilt. And if you’re the kind of person who needs to discuss what you read, the store hosts a bevy of events, including the Murderino Book Club, devoted to true-crime fanatics. 914 Queen St. E., 416-778-5053, queenbooks.ca.
An obsidian face roller: Pura Botanicals
9 Every beauty blogger and her grandma has a jade roller, but obsidian rollers are much harder to come by; the Edmonton apothecary Pura has its pieces handmade in India. The moody black mineral is known among New Agers as the stone of self-acceptance. For more practical purposes, the rolling ritual kick-starts lymphatic drainage, tightens pores and reduces breakouts. Pro tip: keep it in the fridge and use it every morning to combat pre-coffee puffiness. $54. purabotanicals.ca.
A bottomless picnic basket: Wayfair
10 On the outside, it’s a simple willow-woven hamper with leather straps. On the inside, it’s a Mary Poppins miracle, filled with dinner service for four, including stemless wine glasses and silverware, plus an insulated wine cooler bag, a wine duffel, an acacia cheese board, a foldable pinewood table and a cotton patchwork picnic blanket. Egg salad sandwiches on the deck never looked so good. $600. wayfair.ca.
Kids’ SPF 50 swimwear: Advice From a Caterpillar
11 The owners of this Rosedale children’s boutique travel around the world to hunt down miniature versions of fashion’s top trends, including organic cotton caftans, muslin bathrobes and made-in-Brooklyn tutus. Their collection of swimwear is aww-inducingly cute: they carry retro pastel suits by Petit Bateau, ruffly one-pieces from the Korean label Tambere, and kaleidoscopic ’80s printed pieces by Noé and Zoë. We especially love Stella McCartney’s eco-friendly girls’ suits, splashed with watercolour patterns and made with a polyester fabric that’s protected with a layer of SPF 50 ($87.50). 8 Price St., 416-960-2223, advicefromacaterpillar.ca.
Frayed-hem skinnies: Holt Renfrew
12 Meghan Markle’s Givenchy wedding gown was nice, but we’re still not over the jeans—ripped jeans!—she paired with a crisp white oxford and flats for her first public appearance on the arm of her prince, at the Invictus Games in Toronto last fall. While the duchess’s days of ripped anything are likely behind her, we commoners can still shop Mother’s ankle-skimming, frayed-hem skinnies at Holt Renfrew. $311. 50 Bloor St. W., 416-922-2333, holtrenfrew.com.
Men’s whimsical button-downs: 18 Waits
13 Every episode of Netflix’s addictive Queer Eye reboot ends the same way: the made-over man-child acquires a new sense of self-worth, some basic emotional literacy and a closetful of whimsically printed button-downs. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be dressed by the Fab Five, the best place to get the look is 18 Waits on Queen West, which makes its own line of Tan France–style cotton shirts. They’re soft and slim, and come in dozens of quirky yet subtle prints, including pastel cacti, tiny pineapples, palm trees and lots of flowers. From $146. 980 Queen St. W., 647-346-0118, 18waits.com.
A caftan emporium: Aloja
14 Forget the bikini body. This summer is all about the caftan body, which allows you to eat whatever you want, guzzle rosé with abandon and swathe yourself in billowing silks like you’re Elizabeth Taylor on a yacht. Aloja, a stunning new caftan emporium on College, sells ethically made beach cover-ups in silk and linen, all hand-crafted by Indian designers. Our favourite pieces are by Aish, a Kolkata-based brand that hires local textile artisans to weave and colour-block luxurious wraps in hot pink, periwinkle and mustard. They’re comfy, floaty and universally flattering. $260–$360. 872 College St., 416-533-5652, aloja.ca.