Tote Studio Biba 2583 Yonge St., 416-921-6780
It used to be considered a travel bag, but over the past couple of years, Longchamp’s iconic Le Pliage nylon tote has become an everyday standard—celeb fans include Pippa Middleton, Katie Holmes and Rachel McAdams. Studio Biba at Yonge and Eglinton offers a deal on the sturdy, chic shoulder bag, selling it in a range of colours and sizes for as low as $99.
Fur Act Two 565 Mount Pleasant Rd., 416-487-2486
If you want to dodge both an ethical land mine and an astronomical Visa bill, vintage fur is the way to go. Inga Welsman, at her Mount Pleasant consignment shop, sells luxurious mink, lynx and fox on the cheap. A sumptuous full-length espresso-brown Birger Christensen mink coat in mint condition is a steal at $1,400 (it would have sold originally for 10 times that price), and a sleek, sandy ermine goes for about $400. Adorable rust-coloured mink capelets and stoles ($100 to $200) recall Izzy Camilleri’s recent runway looks.
Maxi-coat Lorne’s Coats 101 Spadina Ave., 416-596-1058
A sweeping full-length coat is the logical complement to the season’s maxi-dress. Plus, it brings a touch of drama to drab winter months. Lorne’s,
a fashion district mainstay, carries a number of options in every colour and silhouette, such as military style, A-line and fit-and-flare. A 100 per cent cashmere camel belted trench from Cinzia Rocca is marked down to $745 (the line sells for $1,000 to $1,600 at Bergdorf’s and Bloomingdale’s), while in-house styles stitched from Italian cashmere-angora blends run between $300 and $400.
Vintage couture Thrill of the Find 1172 Queen St. E., 416-461-9313
In Mireille Watson’s tiny shop in Leslieville, high-end labels like Chanel and Givenchy are marked down by as much as 80 per cent. Among the treasures: a beautifully draped Jacques Heim couture cocktail dress from the late ’50s ($425), a wool Christian Dior suit from the ’40s ($300) and Hermès and Schiaparelli silk scarves ($100 to $200). Don’t miss the back room, where Watson keeps some of her hidden gems, like a ’60s mint-green column gown by Roger Frères for $325 and majestic Pauline Trigère coats for under $300.
Knits Line Knitwear Sample Sale 15 Apex Rd., 416-929-3300
John Muscat and Jennifer Wells’ luxe pieces, woven from custom wool blends, are the most stylish knits in town—cable tunics, crocheted dresses and colour-blocked wraps are as cozy as they are sophisticated. Line usually sells for around $150 to $350, but sample sales from parent company PYA Importer every November and May offer up to 90 per cent off retail. Sign up at pyaimporter.com to get notified of future sale dates.
Boots B2 Yorkdale Shopping Centre, 3401 Dufferin St., 416-787-5022
Don’t expect the urban woodsman to forgo his flannel—or shave his beard—anytime soon. The still-fashionable look embodies the artisanal predilections of our age. It’s also surprisingly pricy to get just right. Fortunately, B2 can help get him off on the right foot; these vintage-look leather work boots are a dead ringer for the hipster-prized, Minnesota-based Red Wing footwear—at two thirds the price. $168.
Sports coat Gotstyle 62 Bathurst St., 416-260-9696
Retro patterns and textures—velvet, corduroy, tweed—are enjoying a revival, but this season’s plaid wool model by Gotstyle, with its distinctly contemporary cut and lining, will fit in at a King West dance club, and it costs half the price of the designer equivalents on Yorkville’s racks. Okay, it looks a lot like your grandfather’s jacket, but did your grandfather don blue suede elbow patches? $595.
T-shirts Artik 314 Adelaide St. E., 416-815-7770
Finally: your dodgeball team can get the uniform it has always wanted. The print and embroidery company Artik offers 100 per cent cotton jersey short-sleeved American Apparel T-shirts on which you can have any custom design or logo printed. Buy a minimum of 12 and get shirts in a variety of colours for $14.85 each. The more you buy, the cheaper they get: 500 shirts are less than 10 bucks each.
Peacoat Stollerys 1 Bloor St. W., 416-922-6173
This throwback shirting store is the elder statesman of Bloor Street: a stalwart purveyor of fedoras, plaid scarves and umbrellas. But head downstairs and it’s a fluorescent-lit cornucopia of winter jackets, the peacoat chief among them. Look for the store’s Canada-made house brand, which offers a cashmere-wool-blend coat that’s surprisingly slim and modern fitting. At $695, it’s already a hell of a bargain for a cashmere jacket, but come ready to buy and there’s usually a deal to be made.
High-tops New Balance Toronto 1510 Yonge St., 416-962-8662
When you’re shopping for shoes, it helps to have a cursory knowledge of brand pedigree. PF Flyers—part of the Converse-led retro sneaker trend, but more handsome and less ubiquitous—are a subsidiary of running shoe giant New Balance. That means the best place to find them is the NB store, where the black high-top versions are regularly as cheap as anywhere else in the city. And because they’re coming straight from the source, old versions are liable to go on sale faster and more frequently than anywhere else. $80.
Merino tights Precious Creations 341 Spadina Ave., 416-593-0297
The tights-as-pants movement just won’t die. In the name of fashion, women of all ages forgo the comfort of jeans or cords even in winter, thighs separated from the biting wind only by a thin layer of nylon. Enter merino wool tights—hardly a revelation, but sure to keep your legs cozy. Precious Creations, a small Chinatown boutique, sells Mondor tights for a good $10 less per pair than you’ll find anywhere in Yorkville. $24.
Ski wear Sporting Life 2901 Bayview Ave., 647-788-3580
A good ski jacket can cost as much as—or more than—a pair of skis. For a less expensive alternative, check out Sporting Life’s Bayview Village location, which is home to an impressive array of cast-offs and holdovers from previous seasons, all marked down by as much as 70 per cent. (And really, the multicoloured waterproof shells characteristic of the sport don’t change all that much from year to year.) Because it’s still Sporting Life at heart, they’re all top-of-the-line models from brands like The North Face, Spyder and Descente, never used and only marginally dated. A Descente jacket, originally priced at $840, goes for $335.
Leather gloves Rudsak Sample Sale 141 Tycos Dr.
There are two things one should never buy retail: toilet paper and leather goods. For the latter, Rudsak is one of Canada’s best designers, especially when it comes to gloves. Wait for one of Rudsak’s two annual sample sales, where everything is upwards of 70 per cent off. It’s worth suffering cold fingers this winter if it means holding out for a deal this good in the spring. Sign up for an invitation at rudsak.com.
A-line dress Robber 863 Queen St. W., 647-351-0724
While runways are dominated by heavily structured shifts, asymmetrical cut-outs and drop-waisted caftans, the traditional A-line remains the more practical choice. The Toronto designer Philip Sparks’s micro-check cotton shirt-dress, complete with waist-cinching belt, is universally flattering and as good for the office as it is for a dinner date. On sale for $495, it’s as cheap as it is versatile.
By Andrew D’Cruz, Matthew Hague, Rachel Heinrichs, Emily Landau, David Lawrason, Jason McBride, Mark Pupo, Peter Saltsman and Courtney Shea. (Images: Liam Mogan, except boot and glove)