Do you feel like you’re always shopping at the same stores? Well, you’re not alone.
For a long time, I felt like the scope of independent (and interesting) boutiques in Montreal was extremely limited. Two hours strolling around the Mile End and let just say that I had kind of seen it all. And that includes a coffee break and a tender petting session with a teckel.
The Gods of gorgeous clothes might have grown tired of hearing me complaining, because this summer, it feels like a new shop opens every time I drink an aperol spritz (hint: I drink a whole lot of them).
After a bit of editing, I’ve rounded up the 5 spots that are worth leaving your beloved air conditioning for new clothing ventures. And if you don’t have AC at home (I feel ya, neither do I), you should know that all those places do, meaning you now have an extra reason to pat your sweaty forehead with blotting paper and give my fashion itinerary a try.
Where is it? 68 Rachel street E
You have to go, because… If you’re dreaming of a little vacay by the Spanish coast, but all you can afford right now is a day at the pool of your in-laws, this boutique is your best alternative.
Founders Selma Casals and Lambert Perera, both from Spain, use the space to primarily sell their respective brands. Murri, which is Selma’s, is a clothing line with a bit of a 70’s vintage flare, made back home with recycled or deadstock fabrics from luxury European fashion houses.
In Lambert’s case, shoes are his main focus. His designs, sold under the brand Roew, are simple yet never boring, and handmade in the Balearic Islands, a Spanish archipelago. He also makes a point of integrating some local materials in his products, such as hemp grown here, in Quebec.
Their clothing and shoe offering comes with a myriad of beautiful precious objects, from leather bags to delicate jewelry, most of which are made by other Spain-based ethical companies.
Where is it? 227 St-Viateur street W
You have to go, because… After Le Plateau, Westmount, Old Montreal, and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, it’s Mile End’s turn to welcome the Montreal brand’s new location. (FIY: Just to avoid any confusion, their clothes are designed in Montreal, but produced overseas.)
Like the four other boutiques, this one proves once again that Naïf is THE place to get beautiful classic pieces cut in fabrics that basically feel like you’re wearing a cloud. Speaking of celestial figures, the space reminds me of a dream painted in a pastel colour palette, beautiful and luminous, accessorized with light wood furniture and wall collages that make me want to start arts & crafts again.
Where is it? 162 St-Amable street
You have to go, because… Throughout the past 10 years, atelier b has become somewhat of a Montreal institution. With their constant desire to push ethical fashion to new heights, Anne-Marie Laflamme and Catherine Métivier, the two friends behind the brand, have become the go-to duo when it comes to sustainable local fashion.
In other words, I couldn’t be happier that their Mile End boutique now has a little sister, this one located in Old Montreal. And let me tell you, the space alone is worth a visit. Set in a historic building on the very quaint St-Amable street, the boutique is divided on two floors. The first one is dedicated to their clothing collections (women, men, and kids) and a variety of miscellaneous finds (e.g.: stationery by the Baltic Club and body care products by Unscented Co). Walking down the narrow stairs, which feel more like a secret passage, you’ll find the gallery space, where you can currently enjoy Olga Chagaoutdinova photographs.
Good to know: the basement will soon welcome sewing classes, cotton waxing lessons and other techniques that are certainly lacking your set of skills.
Where is it? 1668 Laurier street E
You have to go, because… I’m a huge fan of glasses, sunnies and eyeglasses, and this place feels like a breath of fresh air in the very predictable world of eyewear, first because of its highly curated selection but even more so because of the mission hiding behind each frame.
Let me explain. The three Uvée founding optometrists, Dr. Alex-Anne Harvey, Dr. Olivier Parenteau and Dr. Steven A. Sutton, wanted to open an eyewear boutique that went along with their environmental and social values. To do so, they exclusively work with brands that put those two aspects at the forefront of their philosophy, whether it’s through the choice of materials (recycled, sustainable, etc.) or their humanitarian commitment. From Stella McCartney to Dick Moby, the frames look so good that you don’t feel like you’re trading your style for a good deed. In other words: you get the best of both worlds.
Speaking of style, the beautiful space was designed by Catherine Catherine agency. Anybody got their number? I want them to take care of my apartment.
Where is it? 231 A Notre-Dame street W
You have to go, because… It’s beautiful, beautiful and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, beautiful! Starting with the store itself, conceptualized with the help of architect Marianne Gourdeau. Equally inspired by the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics, the space feels grand but calming all at the same time. Like I wouldn’t be mad if someone forced me to live there.
Owner Annie Boisjoli’s impeccable taste in decor carries over to her selection of clothes and accessories. Looking through the racks, I saw many brands I love stalking on Instagram, like Faithfull the Brand and Lack of Color, which are usually really hard to find in Montreal, but not anymore. YAY!
And if the name Swell & Ginger rings a bell, it’s totally normal! The boutique was until recently in Quebec City, but Annie felt like coming back here, where she’s originally from. Fortunately for us, the store followed along.
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