The Best Vintage Shops in Toronto
Published: September 11, 2023
Did you know that Toronto has plenty of vintage clothing shops? These shops are not only important for those who prefer vintage clothes or styles from previous decades, but they are significant for sustainability factors. In addition, they also illustrate the long history of fashion and how styles have changed in Toronto and Ontario over the years. Whether you’re shopping for your school wardrobe, want to do your part with sustainable shopping, or desire to add a new style to your closet, this guide to vintage shopping in Toronto will help you!
This guide will list some of the best stores to visit with clothing to suit everyone’s style. Also, how do the neighbourhoods where the shops and boutiques exist relate to the fashion styles? Learn about the history of the stores, a brief summary of the highlighted eras, as well as some tips and advice on improving your shopping experience. Make sure that your PRESTO card is loaded first so that you can ride the convenient and efficient UP Express. You’ll avoid all of the parking pitfalls and take advantage of reliable transit! Shopping vintage is also the perfect way to stay within your budget for school! Did you know? Teens and Post-secondary students save 40% on their UP fare with a PRESTO card!
What is sustainable fashion and vintage shopping?
According to ECO Canada, sustainable fashion is “fashion that’s mindful of its social, environmental, and economic factors. It is fashion developed by companies that pay their workers a living wage, give them safe, healthy working conditions and monitor its environmental impact, taking care to use more sustainable materials and reducing resource use throughout their products’ life cycle.”
Sustainable fashion is also referred to as “ethical fashion,” “eco-fashion”, and “eco clothing”. These terms tend to relate more closely to the environmental concerns of fashion, and not as much to the social factors.
Vintage Shops in Toronto
Exile Vintage (60 Kensington Ave.)
Exile has a 40-year footprint on the retro fashion scene in Toronto. You’ll be awed by their 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s vintage collections. This vintage shop has become so popular that it is a destination for celebrities, fashionistas, film stylists, and international buyers. Looking for some classic and perfectly worn Levi’s jeans? Going to a theme party? Look no further than Exile Vintage!
History: Exile was founded in 1975 by Owner Lynn Harpell. The original store was focused on “…punk, DIY, and anti-war sensibilities, along with a nod to The Rolling Stone’s ‘Exile on Main Street.’”
How to get there: Take UP Express to Union Station then hop on the 510 Spadina streetcar for a short 6-stop ride. Get off at Nassau St. and Exile Vintage on Kensington Ave. is a few steps away.
Courage My Love (14 Kensington Ave)
Walking into this Kensington treasure, you might notice the popular $5 rack. Or maybe that’s what got you into this Toronto vintage shop when you were walking by and saw the outdoor display. Visiting this store, you may also notice a hefty supply of Indonesian buttons. Puzzled? The family also has a 10% stake in a button company in Indonesia. That’s also why they’re reasonably priced! What else does Courage My Love have plenty of? Vintage Cashmere sweaters! There are also heaps of earrings, anklets, masks, and other assortments of jewelry. It’s the ideal spot if you need to dress for Halloween, for theme parties, or even for proms!
History: This unique blue house has been in the Scriver family for more than 40 years. Originally stocked by the owners, both teachers, who had a unique ability to find Persian rugs and other discarded gems on garbage days in richer neighbourhoods, the Scrivers also toured antique stores throughout Canada to build up inventory.
How to get there: Take UP Express to Union Station and then the 510 Spadina Streetcar to Dundas St. W. Walk to Kensington from there.
Urban Catwalk (10 Kensington Ave)
Looking for the latest trends in vintage fashion? Or are you looking for a classic or vintage sports jersey? Urban Catwalk should be on your list of vintage shops to visit in Toronto! They’ve got racks and racks of items to sift through, so be sure you’ve cut out some time so that you don’t miss a hidden gem. They also typically have winter wear such as jackets and fur hats to keep you warm in the cold weather.
History: Urban Catwalk is a family-owned vintage clothing store that has been open since the early 2000s, specializing in leisure and casual wear, and sports jerseys and T-shirts.
How to get there: Take UP Express to Union Station then hop on the 510 Spadina streetcar for a short 5-stop ride to Dundas St. W. The store is a few steps away.
Black Market Vintage (347 Queen St. W., 2nd floor)
This expansive vintage clothing store in Toronto is 34 years old, and amasses 7,000+ square feet of space. Black Market Vintage is known for its $10 or less sales mantra. Still privately owned, they offer “dead-stock, wholesale, vintage furnishing, architectural salvage, and of course, Toronto’s’ largest selection of vintage clothing!” Black Market Vintage also recognizes the need to divert used clothing from landfills by “reclaiming, recycling, and upcycling.”
History: First founded in 1980 to put founder John Christman through school. Black Market’s first and regular customers were young, shopping on a budget, and looking for something different to wear.
How to get there: Take UP Express to Union Station, then get on the University Subway line to Osgoode Station and walk west along Queen St. W.
Public Butter (1290 Queen St. W – Parkdale)
Under the same ownership as Black Market Vintage, Public Butter has a big stash of retro clothing in its massive store. In addition, if you’re looking for more than just used, vintage clothing, you can furnish a room or some of your home with retro furniture, including lamps and other housewares, and desks and couches. If you’re in the market for an old-school bicycle, Public Butter sometimes has those, too! If you want higher quality vintage wares, go here vs Black Market. However, if items sit on the shelf at Public Butter for too long, they go to Black Market.
History: Opened in 2008 as a sister store and upscale vintage option to Black Market.
How to get there: Take UP Express to UP Bloor Station, make the short walk to Dundas West Subway Station, and take it to Lansdowne Station. Then get on the 29 Dufferin Bus to Queen St. W.
Space Vintage (319 Queen St. W & 34 Kensington Ave)
Walk into Space Vintage and you won’t realize that you’re in a vintage clothing store in Toronto. The store is beautifully designed, and curated to be both welcoming and elegant. Space Vintage strives to stock iconic pieces that will beautify your wardrobe. Fill out a styling questionnaire at Space Vintage for a customized experience, or book a fitting online. The owners are dress experts, so feel free to ask questions about your gown. Owners Natasha and Ashlene or their staff will be happy to provide you with the best options just for you and your event.
History: Inspired by her own love of fashion that began in the 1970s, Space Vintage was first opened by Natasha Roberts. Space Vintage is now co-owned by her daughter, Ashlene. They work together and combine their different demographical expertise to complement each other and give their customers the best experience.
How to get there: For the Queen St. location, from UP Union Station take the Yonge-University Line 1 subway to Osgoode Station. Then walk west on Queen Street. For Kensington, from UP Express Union Station take the 510 Spadina streetcar to Dundas St. W. Then walk westbound Dundas St. W., and turn right on Kensington Ave.
96 Tears Vintage (1267 Bloor St. W - Parkdale)
96 Tears has a diverse collection of vintage clothing for men and women, not taking their collections too seriously. The owners enjoy stocking the store with an air of humour about it. Some pieces are a little wild and not for every vintage shopper, but you’ll definitely find things here that you won’t find at other vintage shops in Toronto. 96 Tears are also obsessed with only selling products that are of high-quality materials and in very good condition. If any fixes or alterations are needed, they’ll take care of them before putting them on the racks.
History: After starting out as a pop-up store circulating the Annex in the early 2010s, 96 Tears moved to their first permanent location on Queen St. in 2014; and then they moved to their current Parkdale location in 2019.
How to get there: From UP Bloor Station, when you exit the station head east on Bloor St. W. When you pass Lansdowne, a few more steps and you’re there!
WAYBACH Vintage (1344 Bloor St. W)
Waybach’s motto is “Help Us, Help You Save The Planet & Buy Vintage.” Their niche is providing unique pieces to customers, bringing in new vintage pieces every week. They also sell vintage advertisements and photographs for decorating an old school room in your home with a classic Game Boy ad, a sports poster or a musical band photo or album launch. It’s all about creating nostalgia at Waybach!
History: Waybach was launched in 2014 as simply a thrift store. Now, they source and sell vintage products across the world from their online store.
How to get there: From UP Express Bloor Station, head east toward Bloor St. W. Waybach Vintage is less than a 5 minute walk.
Boomie Vintage (1425 Bloor St. W)
Known as the tiniest vintage shop in Toronto, Boomie has plenty of sustainable clothing and other items for your home. Their shop has “Vintage clothing, with quality in mind!” From handmade goods to antiques, art, jewelry, and housewares, there is plenty of curated vintage available! Boomie’s also run “mini markets” throughout the year with sales and a focus on one or two specific items.
How to get there: Boomie Vintage is a few steps away from UP Bloor Station. Walk east along Bloor St. W and you are right there!
Good Juice Box Vintage (768 Queen Street East – Riverside)
If you were a child and/or teenager in the 80s and early 90s and love the neon looks of the era, Good Juice Box is a must-stop. You’ll find plenty of T-shirts, vests, denim, retro jackets, sweaters, and even brands like Tommy Hilfiger. You’ll also find unique accessories such as dinosaur earrings and crochet quilts.
How to get there: Take the UP Express to Union Station, head east on Station St. toward York St. Turn left onto York St. and stay on York St. and head north then turn right onto King St. W. From King St. W at Bay St. East side hop on the 501B local TTC bus to Broadview and Gerrard for a 12-stop ride. Get off on Queen St. East at Carroll St. and walk 6 minutes.
History: Opened in January 2020 and is Riverside’s spot for all things vintage.
House of Vintage (1239 Queen St. W - Parkdale)
In a new location on the same street after over five years at its original location, House of Vintage moved to Parkdale. Walk in and feel welcomed by the shiny wood floors and exposed beams overhead. If you like vintage but also like labels, both old and newer, you’ll have to stop and shop here. Burberry, Dior, Lacoste, Halston, and Anne Klein are just a few of the names that can be found at House of Vintage. They also have plenty of leather, and sweaters to keep you warm. Styles and fabrics of all kinds are available at House of Vintage.
History: Opened by Owner Dennis Adamidis, a globally recognized fashion expert and owner for decades. A second location opened in London, England in 2010.
How to get there: From UP Express Bloor Station, head east and turn right onto Bloor St. W. From Lansdowne Ave. at Bloor St. W hop on 47/512 local TTC bus, and get off on Lansdowne Ave. at Queen St. Walk south on Lansdowne Ave toward Queen St. W.
Toronto’s Vintage Neighbourhoods
When you’re visiting these vintage shops in Toronto, it’s important to know a little bit more about the neighbourhoods in which they reside.
This is a unique multicultural neighbourhood that has been designated as a Canadian National Historical Site. Known for its outdoor markets, Kensington’s borders are College St. (north), Spadina Ave (east), Dundas St. W (south), and Bathurst St. (west). Check out our guide to the top things to do in Kensington Market.
Known as the “small town in the big city”, Riverside is known for its trees, its parkland, and its historical sites. It also houses an area rich in culture with the Broadview Hotel, The Opera House, craft breweries, and so much more.
One of the most diverse neighbourhoods you’ll visit, Parkdale recently received an award for its strong Neighbourhood Watch community. It’s a very walkable neighbourhood, so take advantage of its plethora of shopping options.
Known as cool, hip, and very artsy, Queen West is littered with indie stores and eateries, homegrown shops and labels, and galleries that you might not know exist. Vogue magazine also chose Queen West as the second coolest neighbourhood in the world (Shimokitazawa in Tokyo, Japan was No. 1) in 2014. Be ready though, things are always changing in Queen West.
If you’re visiting from out of town, UP Express provides a fast and convenient travel option to get to Toronto’s prime vintage shopping spots between Pearson Airport and downtown Toronto. Remember that when you’re shopping at these vintage clothing stores, you’re shopping sustainably.