When we were first dreaming up the Montreal Collection, one thing we really wanted to highlight was how much we love our city. Every person on our team is either from somewhere else in Canada or France or Mexico or Japan. We are all in the process of learning French (or Quebecois) and toughening our spirits and our snow tires for the long winters. But none of us really ever talk about leaving because even though we are transplants, we all call this place home. Quebec is old, Montreal dates to the early 1500’s and that energy is present all over this city. Not just in our somewhat crumbly infrastructure but all the way to the bones of our culture. Food, art, music and beauty are at the heart of our city and we hope you get to come and visit one day and see that for yourself. In the meantime, I’ve put together a little tour guide for the web so you too can feel like you are strolling around our Ruelles and Boulevards, munching a bagel or a croissant, in search of the next cool thing around the corner.
MUSIC + BOOKS
Drawn and Quarterly One of my favourite stores in the city, they also have an amazing kids’ store across the street on Bernard Ave. They feature many local writers and artists including Elise Gravel. If you have a little that could use some French and some humour in their life, she’s such a treat. She also puts a ton of free content for teachers and parents on her website.
Phonopolis Another Mile End favourite, this is the best record store for taking a browse for unusual titles. They have a great selection and feature an up-and-coming local new release each month.
Constellation Records This independent record label is one of the beating hearts of the Mile End. Their roster of artists features the much revered God Speed You Black Emperor and the recording studio in the building (Hotel 2 Tango) is one of the most productive in the city. (RIP Bar Le Ritz PDB.)
SW Welch The best used book store in the city, also in the Mile End. Though you probably need to see this place in person, I’m including it here since they recently survived the rent increases that are currently plaguing this neighbourhood. When the landlords threatened to raise the rent (during a pandemic) locals took to the streets to protect this little institution. Are you starting to see why we love this city?
Corri Lynn Tetz One of the foremost female artists in Canada, we are so proud to call Corri a friend. You might remember her from our Montreal Maker Series when we made her a Sienna Maker Jacket. Her unique and mysterious style creates worlds you want to dive into and her celebration of women, pleasure and private moments is evolving into a body of work poised to ascend the art history ladder.
Susan Moss This Montreal photog has carved out a special niche in the world of concert photography. Her black and white stills vibrate with the energy of the musical icons she captures. Her prints are moments in time and make you want to jump back into the mosh pit (when we can do that again.)
Zöe Mowat Another friend of the family, we have watched Zöe go from design student to global superstar. Though her work is more design than fine art her aesthetic is so special and sculptural it defies quick definition.
Raymond Besinger As a working commercial illustrator Raymond runs the gamut of design styles. He is obsessed with architecture and cartography and his series of maps of Canadian cities is some of my favourite poster art on the planet.
FABRIC + SEWING
Tonitex While this place is technically open to the public, it feels a little more like an industry supplier. As is the case with all the huge fabric stores in the garment district (Chabanel) you really need to know what you’re looking for and be willing to find it yourself. This place is huge.
Globe-tex This is one of the amazing warehouses in this city to get fabric. I would give yourself at least a day between these places to just browse. Not very organized, a little intimidating, if a fabric exists, it’s probably here.
J.L. Sewing Accessories This is one of the first stores I went to in Montreal in 2003 and it hasn’t changed a bit. A lovely family runs it, they have every button in the world and it smells like 1976. Just off St. Laurent (The Main) it is in the Portuguese area of the Plateau. Get yourself some Coco Rico and some vintage notions… perfect afternoon.
Kava St. Hubert street is a veritable treasure trove. Every other store is a fabric or specialty notions store. Kava has machine parts as well as all the industrial thread you can handle. Zippers? They got it. Bra making parts? All of them. If they don’t have what you’re looking for the bead shop across the street or the store that just sells only ribbon probably will.
BEAUTY + SELF CARE
General 54 One of our favourite clothing boutiques, they also carry a beautiful array of local and carefully curated beauty products. From unique perfumes to bath and skincare products, you can bet they’ve tried everything they sell and it’s delicious.
Apprentiorganik These beautiful and effective natural beauty products are made by Alexe, who founded the company after becoming unemployed in a pandemic (she was a flight attendant). The natural scents are unusual and intriguing; makes me want to try them all!
Nox Shop This online shop is the most incredible playground for those in search of personal care items for pleasure in the bedroom and out. We love how inclusive and thoughtful their approach is, and the products and website are gorgeous.
BKind A natural beauty brand started in 2014 in Montreal, the shop has expanded and now carries some home goods as well as their original all non-toxic beauty products and accessories. As a nailbiter, you gotta love their non-toxic nail polish.
CLOTHING + ACCESSORIES
Jennifer Glasgow Design This local designer works with sustainability at every level. From the fabric to the sewing to the shipping, everything is handmade, slow and incredibly thoughtful, with no skimping on style.
Cokluch This Quebec brand carries a collection of clothes for women and children as well as a small selection of special fabric and notions. Equal parts fashion boutique and DIY shop. We love.
Miljours Studio This accessories brand was founded by young designer Marie-Anne Miljours. The idea was to create utilitarian and sustainable leather goods for everyday life. They meticulously handcraft the vegetable-tanned leather goods in their studio based in Montreal.
Unicorn This boutique off the Main on St. Laurent packs a whole ton of Montreal based designers in one place. Eve Gravel is a particular favourite carried here. Check out her terracotta/lilac outfit down below (p.s. something similar could be made with our Kalle Shirt! Now to find that colour palette…)
Llyodie’s This cult classic Jamaican patty is a favourite at our house going back generations. They’ve been carried in grocery stores since 1987 but the brick and mortar location in the Mile End is only a few years old and has become the place to grab your pandemic take out. If you can get your hands on a box of these, get two.
Pied du Cochon If you’re a Food Network person you’ve probably already heard of Martin Picard’s foie gras extravaganzas, Sugar Shack, or Duck in a Can. Even if mounds of meat isn’t your thing, his restaurants are a gourmet window into the world of Quebecois culture and you have to respect that. Je me souviens!
St. Viateur Bagel There is nothing I can think of that is more linked to my Montreal experience than these chewy, hot, magic, rings of delight. Both my kids went to daycare next to the competition Fairmount Bagels (for context, these shops are a block apart in the Mile End). Whether grabbing a snack after pick up or tearing into a bag of 3am (they’re open 24hrs) rip and dips (into hummus) pretty sure these have kept me alive on more than one occasion.
We could go on and on but we have to get back to sewing. We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief virtual tour and are considering coming to our fair city when the world allows such things again. If you have been here, tell us in the comments what was your favourite thing about Montreal? We love to hear it. À bientôt!