The ultimate guide to vintage shopping in Montréal

Isa Tousignant

Who knew Montréal’s irreproachable style had such deep roots? Montréal shopping is renowned, and it turns out that carries waaaay back into the past. From stunning designer looks of yore to trendy finds and homewares that’ll give your interior its own unique brand of chic, find the best old-school goods in the city with this ultimate guide to vintage shopping.

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Edgy designer finds

We’ve spotted everything from YSL pants to Chanel bags to Jean-Paul Gaultier platforms at the beautifully curated Ruse Boutique (5141 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) in the stylish Mile End strip of Saint-Laurent Boulevard. With a generally hipster/edgy vibe and unique vintage pieces that’ll make your look, whether they’re big labels ($$$) or not ($), there’s always a find here. Check out the small selection of new accessory designs by local designers, too.

Today trends from yesterday

Bohemian chic with a ‘90s feel lives at CITIZEN VINTAGE (5330 Saint-Laurent Boulevard), a top stop in any vintage fashion lover’s address book. This Mile End boutique focuses on trends rather than labels in its selection of pieces, which are always in perfect condition, and beautifully presented in an ever-changing thematic arrangement. If florals are in, you’ll find a floral rack. The season’s colour is camel? You’ll find a rack dedicated to the hue.

New, old and cool

Little Italy shop Ex-Voto (6534 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) is a fun time guaranteed, with millions of small designer items like witty patches, funny broaches and beautiful vases, soaps and notebooks by Montréal and international makers. Alongside those goodies is an astute selection of vintage clothing and accessories, ranging from the perfect checked shirts to sleek leather bombers. Got a gift to buy? This is the place.

Perfectly preserved

The perfect denim jacket or floral prairie dress lives at Annex Vintage (53 Saint-Viateur Street), in Mile End, where the focus is on ‘90s styles in perfectly maintained condition. The prices are as reasonable as the styles are on-point here, so things don’t stay in-store long. The selection of vintage shoes is particularly alluring, as is the contemporary Montréal-designed jewellery.

Style swap

Perfectly adorable candles, vases, stationary and art t-shirts will lure you into the beautifully stylish Empire Exchange boutiques (51 Bernard Street West and 5225 Saint-Laurent Boulevard), both in Mile End. They’re the first in the city to offer buy-sell-trade service, so you can show up with awesome pieces you’re over and replace them with brand new-to-you gear. You’ll find designer labels here alongside less luxe pieces, all selected with an eagle eye.

Greatest hits

Rocking the hood since 2002, Local 23 (23 Bernard Street West) is part of a vintage network in Mile End (alongside Empire Exchange and Annex Vintage) that’s been at the top of its game for well over a decade. The second-hand finds here come courtesy of some of the city’s best vintage hunters, who sell on consignment – that means a steady stream of great new vintage daily. It’s always worth a stop.

Timeless chic

Class drips from ERA Vintage Wear (999 du College Street #44), one of the most beautiful selections of vintage wares available in the city, now nestled in a factory warehouse. The gorgeous pieces here range from 1920s ball gowns to 1980s party dresses, all restored, refurbished and organized by colour and placed next to contemporary magazine clips and runway pics to show their continued relevance today. Expect a truly aesthetic shopping experience.

Hidden scandal

A mainstay on the Main since 1977, Scandale Boutique (3639 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) offers high-end boho-chic for women on the street level, with a focus on the designs of Québec fashion maker Georges Lévesque. Few know that on the second floor of this enchanted forest-style two-story boutique there are racks of vintage goods to sift through, selected with the same taste displayed downstairs.  

House of finds

Don’t let the very limited opening hours stop you from visiting The Little Shop (1002 Ogilvy Avenue), an incredible space favored by international stylists and movie scouts. This Parc-Extension townhouse features three storeys full to the rafters with vintage finds ranging from fur coats to accessories to homewares, dating from as far back as the 19th century.

Industrial home ware

Home meets ye olde factory at Style Labo (5595 Saint-Laurent Boulevard), a lofty store in Mile End featuring vintage street lamps, surgical shelving units and rich wooden drafting tables with cast iron legs – plus a million knickknacks including Austrian cardboard canisters from the 1930s and a vast collection of wooden letter-press tiles. Always wanted an antique neon sign? This is the place you’ll find it.

Home and hearth

Once a hidden gem known only to architects and interior designers, Spazio (8405 Saint-Laurent Boulevard) is now a ginormous emporium of architectural antiques spanning three storefronts on the Main in Villeray. You’ll find everything you’re missing for your home restauration project here, from vintage front doors to light fixtures to roll-top desks and door handles, hooks and hinges by the thousands.

Antique alley

And finally, who says vintage style says Montréal’s Quartiers du Canal, a one-stop shopping alley for antique furniture and more along Notre-Dame Street West. There are dozens of stores to choose from, and a nice walk to be had as you hop from one to the other – click here for a complete map. Happy shopping!

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s eclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

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