For many Torontonians, the Dundas West strip from Ossington to Lansdowne marked the territory for our humble Little Portugal, but times have changed. Over the past few years the area has seen an urban renewal. Amidst the Portuguese cafes and local grocers, a slew of clothing stores, vintage shops, galleries, restaurants and bars have turned our beloved Dundas West into a local hotspot.
For fashion lovers the area hosts some of the city’s best independent clothing stores and vintage shops. Lost & Found, the coffee and clothing shop that is bringing a popular New York City trend to the city, ranked number one in BlogTO’s 2011 List of Best New Fashion Stores in Toronto. Don’t let the inconspicuous storefront fool you, Lost & Found has quickly become a local favourite. Owners Zai Rajkotwala, Jonathan Elias, and Justin Veiga focus on bringing in locally-made quality products to their store. With brands such as In God We Trust, Unis, Joomi Lim, and The Hill-Side, Lost & Found proves that you don’t have to look far for well-crafted fashion goods.
Standing alongside Lost & Found in BlogTO’s 2011 List of Best New Fashion Stores in Toronto are Woodlawn Boutique, at number three, and Magwood, at number seven. Woodlawn, which shares a similar mantra to Lost & Found, focuses more in offering functional fashion basics. Magwood, owned by Sarah Magwood, carries high-end vintage fashion and fashion accessories. The young owner has managed to epitomize luxury vintage by offering everything from period women’s wear to original designer pieces. These stores are just the tip of the iceberg— Dundas West has lent itself to become the new go-to spot for emerging independent shops.
Local artisans have also had a part in developing the area. Galleries such has Milk Glass Co. and LE Gallery have helped young artist to break into the national and international art scene, as well as improve the Toronto arts landscape.
Once you’ve had enough of the clothing shops and artists hangouts, the block also has a lively nightlife. Spilling off of the Ossington strip, bars such as The Red Light, Bambi, and The Garrison have hosted local musicians and DJs, taken part in festivals such as NXNE, and showcased for artist like Azari & III.
Dundas West is no longer one of the city’s best kept secrets and condo development is already on the rise— A dead giveaway to the extreme potential the neighbourhood holds. Abacus Lofts are scheduled for completion in the upcoming year. The development marks the first of it’s kind along the Dundas West strip. Although it is a low rise building, one can only wonder how much change it will bring. Local residents have already felt the shift in attention; this once neglected district is now being given the spotlight. Toronto’s most popular west end neighbourhoods, Liberty Village and Queen Street West, are being given a run for their money. Residents have made it clear that commercialism is not something they are willing to support, and in order for Dundas West to remain strong it must keep sustaining local development.