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Programming note: We're in Canada. Well, one of us is, anyway. We were graciously flown north for LG Fashion Week (that's in Toronto, y'all), meaning there will be 100% more posts about Canada than normal. So no, it's not because we ran away with a Canuck—we're just here, checking out the local shopping scene, going to shows, and eating poutine.
GreenShag image via blogTO
On Toronto's Queen West, there's a ten-block strip packed full of men's shops—15 of them to be exact—and together they've been dubbed the "Queen's Pen." The area is considered to have the highest concentration of menswear in all of Toronto, (and in all of Canada, for that matter). We chatted with menwear boutique GreenShag's Neil McPhedran on how, over the years, the neighborhood has turned into the Canadian version of London's Savile Row. We've also compiled all of the shops for you to check out, after the jump.
So when did this boom of menswear begin to take place?
The last couple of years, a number of new men's boutiques have moved onto the strip. Some of the original shops have resided on the strip for 8-plus years. We moved into our spot four years ago; at that point, there was about three other men's shops. We think it's a fantastic phenomenon, and we are encouraging other brands to set up on Queen West.
Is there anywhere else in Toronto, or Canada in general, that has such a large concentration of menswear boutiques?
There's nothing else like it, in Toronto or in Canada. I'm hard-pressed to identify another area in North America that is such a tight collection of so many men's boutiques. It really has become the de facto place for menswear in Toronto, if not Canada. Yes, there's the malls, but it's nothing like what's happening on Queen West with the Queen's Pen.
Sydney's, image via their website
What makes the Queen's Pen so special?
It's an incredible collection of stand alone men's brands, comprised of local and international. If you're looking for menswear, you won't find another spot in the city that offers such breadth of options. Plus all the shops are true boutiques—there's no "big-box" in site.
What can you get in these shops that you don't think you can get elsewhere?
A true cross-section of what's hot in men's wear (local and international) in a mere ten blocks. Additionally, the Queen's Pen provides direct access to the brands and the designers. For example, our Creative Director, Victoria McPhedran, operates out of our studio above our shop most days, while for the NY or London based brands, Andrew Buckler, Simon Carter, etc. are frequently in their shops. Plus, as brands and "shop keepers," we are all get along and learn from each other—we even send guys back and forth if we know someone down a few shops has what a customer wants.
Image via Sidewalk Hustle
Without further ado, here's the list that makes up the Queen's Pen menswear boutiques:
1. GreenShag, 670 QSW: Born in Vancouver, GreenShag sells bespoke suits and shirts that are all hand-tailored in Toronto. On top of that, they have an extensive collection of cufflinks, men's jewelry, and other accessories. And they're all designed in house—most of them are also crafted-in house, too.
2. Cabaret Vintage, 672 QSW: Cabaret is a vintage boutique that also sells women's clothing. For men, a highlight includes the retro style hats.
3. Sydney's, 682 QSW: Inside Sydney's, you'll find everything from Jil Sander, Marni, and Dries van Noten to Naked and Famous jeans.
4. Klaxon Howl, 694 QSW: If you're in the market for vintage-inspired jackets and the like, you don't really have to go much further than Klaxon Howl. Chambray shirts? They've got that too. Note: We hear that they've just closed for renovation, and will be moving to the former Delphic shop at the corner of Manning Avenue and Queen West.
5. Buckler, 700 QSW: You know Buckler. Now get to know Buckler in Toronto.
6. Dutil Denim, 704 QSW: Denim, denim, and more denim. And it's premium.
7. Doc's Leathers 726 QSW: If Sons of Anarchy T-shirts are your thing, then look no further than Doc's Leather, a Queen West original that carries all you could ever hope for in motorcycle gear.
8. Ben Sherman 734 QSW: The British are coming! Ben Sherman's Queen West boutique will open up next week, so stay tuned. We've been told, though, that one of the shop's highlights will be a interactive window display, where passerby can command which items are brought to the front.
9. Simon Carter, 754 QSW: Speaking of which—there's another London-based brand on the block (actually, right next door.) Simon Carter stocks everything from luggage to suits to ties, for the dapper English fellow and Canadian alike.
10. Nomad, 819 QSW: Nomad's website boasts an impressive list of designers. Among them are A.P.C., Comme des Garcons, Levi's Made & Crafted, Robert Geller, and Shipley & Halmos.
11. Grreat Stuff 870 QSW: Here's what's really grreat about Grreat Stuff: They specialize in selling samples, many of which are about 50% off retail.
12. Garrison's Barbershop 907 QSW: You need a nice shave to go with those new nice clothes, right?
13. Ruins, 960 QSW: For the fan of a well-edited collection, Ruins carries Opening Ceremony, Patrick Ervell, Assembly New York, among others.
14. Oliver Spencer, 962 QSW: Looking to be outfitted for the winter. Stop by and check out Oliver Spencer's boot selection, as well as their stylish jackets .