It’s fascinating to watch a city evolve.
Since returning to the wet, west coast in the fall of 2007, after a several year stint in the artiste/fashionista haven of Montréal, I was pleased to discover some excellent additions to the menswear landscape which had previously been somewhat of a Wasteland de la Snooze.
As others have noted, the cobblestone streets of Gastown have become the de rigeur neighbourhood to hunt for independent designers and labels in the city — although Main Street’s hipsterati run things in their own fixie-fied way — and I wanted to share some of my favourite places to get a fashion fix.
Roden Gray is a tiny, hideaway menswear boutique on Cambie, between Cordova and Water St, that embraces a minimal, slyly avant-garde aesthetic that’s hard to resist. They’re the retail cornerstone for supplying local boys with their regular dose of Wings+Horns wear and they’ve collected an excellent mix of high-end couture from Robert Geller, Comme des Garçons, and Michel Berandi, as well as more accessible price point pieces from the likes of Top Man, Nice Collective, Filson, and Band of Outsiders. The staff is warm, friendly, and knowledgeable — and they’ve got a dedicated clientele (myself included). Read more on Roden Gray’s brands.
Around the corner, on Abbott Street, you can trade your Dayton boots for designer sneakers.
Livestock is one of the city’s top spots for fly kicks. Boasting a highly selective assortment of fresh footwear, tees, hats, hoodies, and a few modest accessories, the boutique knows how best to serve the upscale urbanite who’s still got love for some street swagger. Their apparel selections runs from Nike, Adidas, and Vans to ALife, Fresh Jive, and The Hundreds — and the boutique has been so successful that they’ve expanded to a West 4th location and a sister store in Toronto. Oh, and the Livestock kids are also deeply involved in promoting art and music, the store supports and throws down regular concerts, art openings, and even a few full-on block parties. For more, check the Livestock blog.
One block east there’s more refined menswear goodness to be found on Carrall.
(Funny, I just noticed that each of these stores is in almost exactly the same position — on the west side of the street, in between Cordova and Cambie, and just one block apart — when travelling east from Cambie to Abbott to Carrall.)
Illustrated Example was a quiet, dark fireplace of a store that carried an elegant assortment of couture pour les garcons. Stylistically set in a decidedly NYC & European-infused environment, the store stood in stride with contemporary style-savvy fashions and stocked excellent brands including: Maiden Noir, Surface to Air, Maharishi, Acne, Rag & Bone, and Cassette. The pieces were few, though, and exclusivity came at the expense of availability, so don’t expect to see your IE finds around town. It’s sad the store had to close so soon. It will be missed!
Elsewhere in the city there are more menswear gems to be had, but I’ll save those for another post. In the meantime, here’s a preview.
Honourable (Mostly Main St.) Mentions: