The best part of buying vintage is that you are unlikely to find someone else in the exact same outfit as you. When you buy clothes from big box stores, you may find yourself strolling along Bernard Ave, happy as a clam, and the next minute you'll be darting behind a mailbox because you’ve spotted someone in the same sweater as you. Many of us regard our clothes as a way to express our unique individuality, a concept destroyed when you locate your sartorial doppelgänger. Then there’s the other positive aspect about buying vintage clothing–they’ve lived through more than one owner, likely because they were made better (you know, back in the day).
The Plateau/Mile End is the best area if you want to hit a number of stores in a short stroll, and St. Laurent Boulevard is the place to find most of them. Here are some recommendations–from wacky pseudo-costume shop to local artisan goldmine.
1. Eva B’s
From the outside façade to the inside jumble of café counter, used clothing racks, randomly piled books and costumes, Eva B’s could easily win a Strangest Shop in Montreal award. Located at 2015 St. Laurent, it’s been around for well over twenty years and when you walk in, you’ll see why. A mix of everything, the shop feels like an Alice-in-Wonderland type twisty world. These days it seems to be equally a-buzz with café patrons and thrift-fanatics. There is a large used book section as well, so if you're killing time near Quartier des Spectacles, this is a potential option for a literary discovery as well.
2 & 3. Kilo Fripe and Friperie St. Laurent
Kilo is at 3800 St Laurent Boulevard and has a huge selection. Prices are reasonable and you can browse through different styles and eras. There is also a very impressive collection of cowboy boots. Friperie St Laurent, which has the same owner, has an older and posher style to it. Friperie St. Laurent sells rare pieces–the clothing isn’t just resold donations but carefully selected in Paris, Japan and the U.S–and the prices often reflect that. Head to 3976 St. Laurent and swathe yourself in varying colours, fabrics and varieties of plaid.
This vintage shop specializes in 80s and 90s styles, and you will find plenty of neon, patterns and denim to take you back to those long-gone days. Great prices on amazing finds can start as low as $10. Cul-De-Sac is at 3794 St. Laurent. They regularly post new arrivals on their Facebook.
5. Citizen Vintage
If you live in the Mile End, you might know Citizen Vintage as the place that always has bright, prop-filled window displays by local artists. Or you might know it as the thrift shop that throws once-a-month parties in-store with free beer and great music. You might even know it as a place that sells great band t-shirts, cute floral print 90s dresses and features an ever-changing display of art by locals. Visit them at 5330 St. Laurent–go for the dance party but stay for the great finds.