The place: On the westernmost end of Dundas Street West, past the chocolatiers, art galleries and cafés, a new clothing outpost has taken on the task of expanding the Junction’s fashion landscape. Mia Boutique owner Sandra Muscat is a longtime Junction resident who has both lived in and painted in the neighbourhood for the past 10 years. It was her art connections that helped her snag this location, which had been semi-vacant for the past four years, occasionally functioning as an art installation space. Although Muscat knew Mia Boutique would be a neighborhood hit, she has been surprised at how quickly her one-room shop, no bigger than Suzanne Rogers’s walk-in closet, has taken off.
The Stuff: Every article of clothing in Mia Boutique is hand-picked by Muscat’s exacting eye. She pounds the pavement not just in Hogtown, but also in New York and Los Angeles to select these perfect pieces. Mia Boutique carries a mix of items including designer samples, stock from now-defunct design houses (what Muscat calls “closeouts”), locally made jewelry and gently pre-owned clothes. Expect to find everything from skinny Armani jeans ($55) to a woven leather belt with silver embellishments from (what we imagine to be) an outdoor market in Istanbul ($25). Despite the fact that Mia Boutique is a bit of a clothing and accessory potpourri, Muscat manages to keep everything impeccably organized. There is a shoe wall arranged by size and colour, two sunglass tables ($16 a pair), a jean nook and a jewelry corner organized by material—pearl, crystal and metal. The clothes are organized first by colour, second by sleeve type and finally by size. The selection of cuts and colours are ample, but the waistlines tend to run small. Don’t expect to find too many pieces larger than size 10, although Muscat is making an effort to expand her stock.
The shoppers: Maybe it’s the ever-changing window display or the shimmering baubles, but there is something magnetic about Mia Boutique. The store attracts a huge range of female shoppers, from 12-year-olds on their lunch hours to well-kept Bloor West moms. Yes, the clothes are great and the price point is just right, but it’s not just the material goods that keep shoppers flocking to Mia Boutique: Muscat’s effusive personality is infectious, and it helps that she has a knack for knowing what someone wants—even if they don’t.
Our favourite things: There were far too many pieces that caught our eye to choose from, so we thought we’d ask Muscat herself to help select five fantastic finds. And sure enough, we loved every one of her selections. There was a pair of vintage lace-up pumps by Italian designer Giancarlo Paoli in off-white with exquisite lace detail, a steal at $98—new, they’d retail for more than $400. We saw an elegant leopard-print shift by young Bulgarian designer Rody Radichkov for $55 that can be dressed up or down, and a fantastic and delicate white silk A-line dress by Ann Taylor with pastel flower embroidery for $65. Muscat also showed us a whimsical handmade copper enamel necklace with Murano glass accents made by Torontonian Erica Stusyk, owner of Wired Style ($120). And finally, there was a pair of light-wash skinny jeans by California-based Habitual with sand dollar–like embellishments ($70). Like we said, magnetic.