Being a D&M student in a new city, I’ve done what any of my fellow white girls would do by shopping as much as possible. Since arriving in September I’ve done my best to visit any, and every, store relevant to my style in the Montreal area. I did some research prior to arriving, so I had a nice little checklist to go through. In all honesty, the general fashion sense of Montreal isn’t very impressive, so many of the stores have reflected that. I riffled through quite a few misses, stocking whatever brands, slowly wearing down any hope I had for the area.
My biggest disappointment came from a store I was sure would be great, Ssense. Massive online retailer Ssense is based in Montreal, with both their flagship store and warehouse located inside the city limits. I was very excited to visit Ssense and check out what they had to offer, but things changed once I got inside. Online they carry a diverse range of designers, however in store the only men’s collections they carry are clearly geared towards rappers/rapper wannabes. This left me a little disappointed, seeing as I wasn’t in the market for Marcelo Burlon t-shirts and star-studded Givenchy sneakers. I shrugged it off though, accepting defeat and concluding that there were in fact zero good stores in Montreal. A couple of months later I did find a silver lining to Ssense though. I learned that you have the option to have things brought from the webstore warehouse to the flagship store to try on and purchase. This was helpful when I found a pair of Common Projects I liked online, and was able to have them brought in prior to purchase to try on.
After being in Montreal for a few months, I read about a store that carries Naked and Famous while at work doing research. Les Etoffes is a small boutique that specializes in upscale brands, both progressive and classic. Upon arriving I was impressed with the carefully chosen stock of tasteful pieces, with just enough edge. I spoke with the co-owner for a good while, getting her take on how her and her boyfriend went about curating the selection. It was very nice to find that there were other people in Montreal who share a love for clothing, even though she confirmed my suspicions that the city is overall disinterested in fashion. Even though I couldn’t afford to make any purchases, I left the store satisfied from their thoughtful and caring approach.
Another great local find I was able to discover through research at work was a brand named Superfluous Culture. I found the brand’s lookbook online, and was thoroughly impressed with the outside the box silhouettes and materials used. I was determined to see some of it in person if possible, so I began looking up potential stockists. I came to learn that the brand isn’t carried in any stores yet, and can only be viewed online or at the owner’s home studio. Obviously I knew I had to go with the second option and view it straight from the source. I got the contact information from his website, and set an appointment to view the collection the following day. He ended up living not too far from me, making it a convenient outing. After my arrival and introduction, he began taking me through the collection piece by piece. We talked extensively about his inspiration, material sourcing/selection and production process. I learned a lot of great information: from that one little old lady produces the entire collection by hand, to that he thought up the concept for the brand while tripping acid. All in all the meeting was interesting and insightful, and he was even kind enough to offer me an open invitation to his home and a 15% discount on any future purchases. I haven’t yet taken him up on his discount, but have remained in contact since and hope to continue to do so after moving back to the US.
These two gems of Montreal, boutique and brand, have proven to tide over my shopping desires during my time here, but even more importantly have given me the opportunity to meet and converse with others who hold just as strong of a passion for clothing as I do.