Need a break from the big chains? Here are some small, fashion-forward shops that have been stylizing Vancouver for decades
With more and more big-name retailers taking over Vancouver’s high streets—not to mention the sky-high leasing costs—smaller boutiques can find it difficult to stay afloat.
Not so for these venerable establishments. Long-standing but far from stodgy, they’ve managed to not only survive, but thrive, for decades. With a focus on high-quality, fashion-forward designer goods, they're a testament to the fact that staying on-trend never goes out of style.
Be sure to pop by one or all of these seven boutiques on your next downtown shopping spree...
1. Vetrina, 525 West Georgia Street
VetrinaOwner Rachel Kapsalis opened Vetrina on ever-bustling Georgia Street, just down the street from Hudson’s Bay, in 1998. Her second-floor boutique carries women’s casual and formal fashions, shoes and accessories by Italian designers like Beatrice. B, Sfizio and Maria Grazia Severi, all big names in Italy and Europe, but harder to find across the pond. For men’s Italian fashions, take a trip downstairs to Quorum, which has been open for 20 years.
2. Kalena’s, 1526 Commercial Drive & 229 Mountain Highway, North Vancouver
KalenaKalena’s is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Commercial Drive this year. Opened in 1967 by Carmine and his wife Isa, the store is named after its owner's hometown in Italy. The store carries a large selection of men’s and women’s Italian-made shoes and accessories.
3. Boboli, 2776 Granville Street
BoboliBoboli on South Granville opened its doors in 1985. This spacious boutique occupies two storefronts and carries luxury designer shoes, clothing and accessories for men and women. Brands include big names like Blumarine, Maison Margiela and Valentino. Their goods are also available for purchase online internationally via website Farfetch.
4. Bacci’s, 2788 Granville Street
BacciRight next door to Boboli, Bacci’s has been selling women’s fashions, jewellery, shoes and housewares on South Granville for over three decades. The fashion side of the store opened in 1985, and today is comprised of lines like Chloé, Lanvin, Novemb3r, Haider Ackermann and Dries Van Noten. Since 1994, they've also been peddling towels, pillows, soaps and all your other singularly styled homeware needs.
5. The Block, 350 West Cordova
The BlockThis Gastown landmark has been on the corner of Cordova and Homer since 1999, far before all the trendy cafés, pubs and eateries moved into the neighbourhood. Catering to men’s and women’s fashion, The Block's loft-like space is filled with pieces from both emerging and established Canadian and international designers like Filippa K, Bridge & Burn and Ulla Johnson.
6. Leone, 757 West Hastings
LeoneAt 25,000 square feet, this “boutique” feels more like a mini department store. Leone opened in 1987 in the historic Sinclair Centre building in Gastown, making this year its 30th anniversary. Though still bearing the name of the family that founded it, the store was sold in 2015 to new owner Nicole Yang, who continues to carry an array of high-end men’s and women’s designer fashions and accessories from Eleventy to Alexander McQueen to Versace to Sachin & Babi.
7. Hill’s of Kerrisdale, 2125 West 41st Avenue & Hill's Dry Goods, 2081 West 4th Avenue
Hills of Kerrisdale The Hill family has been in the rag trade since 1914. How’s that for longevity? The family opened their first Kerrisdale shop in 1960 and moved into the present location in 1974. Siblings Ross and Nancy Hill took over the store from their father awhile back, while brother Brian went on to Aritzia fame. Catering to men and women, Hill’s of Kerrisdale has that old-school neighbourhood feel, while still staying on-trend with brands like Rag & Bone, Chan Luu and Pendleton.