967 Queen West, unit 121, 647-344-4703
Just plain fabulous in the most urban, intellectual and classically trendy sense of the word. Kasha Bilobram has created a sleek, industrial closet of clothing for women who proudly follow fashion but effortlessly make every purchase their own.
1006 Dundas West, 416-915-4323, www.gratefulheadcollective.com
This top-of-Trinity Bellwoods salon is cut perfectly for its indie, urban address. Expert clippers are happy to dish about their latest gig and initiate you into their crew with an invite to a clothing swap and a rocked out new 'do.
Best garden store
55 Mill, bldg 57, 416-364-6232, www.vintagegardener.com
Garden goodies are one style segment where we don't mind a bit of fuss, and Vintage Gardener's Elaine Martin expertly combines traditional and casual green thumb picks at her Distillery District shop. Plants and flowers are celebrated for their beauty, scents and culinary flavours.
Best kids' stuff
ELLA + ELLIOT
188 Strachan, 416-850-7890, www.ellaandelliot.com
Moms and pops who don't want baby's arrival to mess with their impeccable knack for modern decor will find cutesy kids stuff relief at Ella + Elliot. Bugaboo strollers, Dwell sheets and other style-conscious toys and trinkets will school junior early in design.
Best museum gift shop
ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM STORE
100 Queen's Park, 416-586-5766, www.rom.on.ca
Whether you're pro or con on the new Libeskind crystal, it's hard to fault the ROM's new ground-floor gift shop. The bright, airy and angular space is filled with the usual art posters and designer umbrella fare along with special exhibition merch like the jewellery, decor and book goodies celebrating the A Season Of Canada show on now.
Best Ikea alternative
UMBRA CONCEPT STORE
165 John, 416-599-0088, www.umbra.com
We don't mean to knock the Swedish fast furniture spot every year, but sometimes we just don't want to do it ourselves. Umbra's first freestanding store wins points for its contemporary pink structure and three levels of cheap, cheerful and design-conscious home accessories. The U+ line injects playful design prototypes like latex-dipped teacups and stacked coffee-table bookshelves into the mix.
Best pet accessories
TIMMIE DOGGIE OUTFITTERS
867 Queen West, 416-203-6789, www.timmie.ca
West-end pet people hunting for Fido and kitty accessories from the cutesy to the modern shop Timmie Doggie Outfitters.
686 Yonge, 416-961-0555
Retro-referencing Barbie's Basement Jewellery, fabric collage Hoakon/Helga bags and string dolls galore are some of Propaganda's finishing-touch staples. Owner Regina Sheung is always on the hunt for new gift, decor and fashion items, so you can always bet on finding cool style stuff here first.
Best hybrid shop
107 Shaw, 416-533-9990
Elana Ginsberg clinched her jewellery shop and café' s spot on our list during Nuit Blanche when she kept the Queen and Shaw boutique's espresso machine percolating all night long. You'll have a tough time deciding for yourself whether coconut lemon square treats or gorgeous handmade baubles are a better incentive for a visit.
Best men's and women's clothing
795 Queen West, 416-603-3369
Owner Sydney Mamane is planning to phase out his womenswear selection next spring to focus on insider menswear lines like Band of Outsiders and Patrik Ervell, so this is your last chance to score his chic and street ladies' looks.
Best vintage clothing
I MISS YOU
63 Ossington, 416-916-7021
Some people like to shop for their vintage by diving into a heap of clothing and others like a more edited experience. If you're among the second group of secondhand shoppers, I Miss You is for you. After a recent expansion, its era range has grown to encompass 40s to 80s frocks, coats and accessories, all at surprisingly smart prices for such a well-kept boutique.
Best designer furniture
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR
80 Ossington, 416-564-5814, www.ministryoftheinterior.net
There's a cockiness to Ministry of the Interior's gutsy furniture picks that turns us on. You know you shouldn't splurge on a plastic side table moulded to look like a mass of carved-out wood, but there's something quirky and collectible about the piece that sucks you in. Pieces by in vogue UK design outfit Established & Sons will be in store in late fall, and we can already hear the design drool dripping.
Best indie designer clothing
13 Kensington, 416-588-5177
Kudos to the Rage's Sarah Campbell for maintaining her shop's indie cred two years into its Kensington Market life. She curates a diverse sampling of creative, done-it-themselves clothing and accessories while making sure every seam is high-fashion quality.
Best eco fashion
HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE
61A Bellevue, 416-999-2197, www.heartonyoursleeve.ca
We can't stop showering this Kensington Market boutique with planet-conscious praise. Owner Natalie Stephenson should be proud of her sustainable and stylish shop, which proves fashion never has to suffer for eco-awareness.
1103 Queen East, 416-463-8998, www.telegramme.ca
Telegramme's walls of vintage lithographs, concert bills and modern graphic posters (and a ceiling pinned with limited-edition Cuban film prints) elevated the poster art selection this year. Whether you're hunting for a super-sized Houdini print for that wall above the sofa or a Belle and Sebastian concert announcement to kitsch up the kitchen, we're happy to now have options beyond fruit-bowl oil paintings and Van Gogh reproductions.
201 Danforth, 416-778-7601 and 724 Queen West, 416-703-7601
East- and west-end outposts serve up designer denim labels like Diesel and Citizens of Humanity and jeans from more budget-friendly lines like Mavi and Fidelity. The undeniably hot collection of Fly London boots and shoes are sure to offset any savings.
Best home accessories
55 Mill, bldg 47A, 416-861-1821, www.bergo.ca
There's no reason why everything from your pepper grinder to your paperweight shouldn't demonstrate an elevated sense of design. Bergo displays designer espresso machines, quirky doorstops and furniture by Canadian lines like Brothers Dressler in aisles of industrial glass cases.
Best designer clothing
1281/2 Cumberland, 416-929-9209, www.upcboutique.com
Yorkville's hoities, toities and professional window shoppers are a hard market to crack, but UPC's Maha Zeibak and Anat Lowe have chicly dressed their subterranean shop to take on the high-fashion hoards. Brands like Cacharel, Jovovich Hawk and Oliver Spencer are made for style-savvy shoppers who like their logos on the inside.
Best bike shop
180 John, 416-979-9733
Every pedaller is looking for something different from his or her favourite bike store, but in our opinion, Urbane caters best to the most diverse cycling tastes. Easy attitudes, quick drop-in repairs and a wide range of two- and three-wheel options keeps luring back novice and expert cyclists.
Best sporting goods store
MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP
400 King West, 416-340-2667, www.mec.ca
Outdoorsy types still make MEC their first stop to gadget up before hitting the slopes, trails, waves or rock climbing walls. Membership initiates you into their co-op of active gearheads, and your sporting life will soon be more tricked-out than you ever imagined.
Best art supplies
283 Dundas West, 416-585-9292; 573 Queen West, 416-260-2633 and 490 Yonge, 416-967-6666
Three well-stocked downtown locations serve OCAD kids, craftsters and art pros assembling arsenals of brushes, canvases and other creative goodies.
788 College, 416-537-6590
Eyeglass aficionados that we are, it's hard to crown the glasses king in town. Spectacle (752 Queen West, 416-603-0123), Josephson (60 Bloor West, 416-964-7070) and other independent frame shops around the city all set our peepers aflutter, but it's Rapp's charge to create a made-in-Canada specs culture that cinched it this spot.
711 College, 416-537-7465, www.pinktwig.ca
Little Italy residents could just as easily grab a bunch of posies from the College and Crawford Dominion, but they turn to Pink Twig instead. Florists Tanya List and Amy Saleh arrange everything from casual to formal stems showing off a love for colour and unusual buds. Micro vases filled with sweet blooms are ready to go daily.
Best home electronics
BAY BLOOR RADIO
Manulife Centre, 55 Bloor West, 416-967-1122
For every flat screen fanatic, digital music geek and techno-dork looking to be turned on to the right electronics pick, Bay Bloor Radio offers wide home entertainment selection minus the big-box hustle and bustle.
1233 Queen West, 416-203-7710, www.commoncloth.com
Part of a new wave of Toronto fashion talents who mix international trend-savvy design with indie cred and business smarts, this minimal Parkdale boutique is a hub for well-priced wares referencing the romance and modernity of 60s and 70s styles.
489 King West, 416-260-9696, www.gsmen.com
After leading a legion of shyly fashion-conscious guys out of fussy metrosexuality and into a more refined take on casual and formal dressing, Gotstyle picked up a new torch this year. Local menswear lines including Bustle and Philip Sparks became part of the store's lineup and started luring fellas over to Canadian-content clothing.
Best hat shop
575 Queen West, 2nd floor, 416-830-8589, www.wildhagenwear.com
Now permanently transplanted to Queen West, spotting their line of crafty cloches, collage fishing caps and cone-shaped knit hats cozying local heads has become more common. Their unique, geometric style is echoed in a suspiciously similar style the Gap introduced into their hat collection this season. If imitation is the best form of flattery, this move was a doozy of a compliment.
Best shoe and bag shop
439 Danforth, 647-435-8195
As lustful as the party frocks at Glynis Dupuis's Queen West shop Response (690 Queen West, 416-366-5394)
are, she couldn't shake the accolades for her small shoe and handbag selection. So she opened Danforth bag and shoe spot Lustre and filled it with sparkly heels, stylishly sensible flats and don't-break-the-bank boots along with a suspended selection of glossy leather Tano bags.
OASIS WELLNESS CENTRE AND SPA
55 Mill, bldg 36, 416-364-2626, www.experienceoasis.ca
If size matters when you're making your spa selection, no one rubs you down in more square footage than the Distillery District's Oasis Wellness Centre and Spa. Under the timber rafters of the Distillery's Smoke House building, 23,000 square feet of Zen'd-out treatment rooms, mani and pedi stations and chill-out spaces deliver an out-of-town style escape minutes east of downtown.
Best up-and-coming shopping strip
No stretch has slowly but steadily made its way onto our shopping map like the Junction. The strip along Dundas West from Dupont to Runnymede is filling up nicely with home decor stores and other indie ?hood staples, and we can?t wait to see who arrives next to fill in the still-abundant blank storefronts.