Vintage Fashion Heaven – Kensington Market in Toronto

I arrived at Kensington Market in Toronto at around 11am on a Tuesday and it was not quite what I expected. Most of the vintage shops were still closed and it felt a bit like a ghost town. When I asked somebody when the market started, they explained: “They usually open at around 12pm, it depends how much they drank last night.”

Fair enough. Within the hour, the area was bustling and the market was well and truly underway. Kensington Market is a designated National Historic Site in Canada and is one of the oldest areas in Toronto. Some of the houses date back to the 19th Century. The area has a long, multicultural history and is known for its community spirit and resistance to modern development. 

In the early 20th century, a huge Jewish community occupied the neighbourhood and many opened food stores in their homes. The majority had moved away by the 1950s and Portuguese immigrants moved in and painted the houses in the beautiful, bright colours that can still be appreciated today. They also continued the tradition of trading from their homes. Then came a wave of immigrants from Asia in the 1970s and Latin America in the 1980s.

Not surprisingly then, the market is an incredible mixture of cultures. This was one of the most vibrant places I visited in Canada. There were food stores, cafes, artists’ galleries and lots of vintage shops. I was in my element rummaging through colourful racks of vintage clothes from different decades. This rail of loud jumpers screamed 1980s…

Some of the traders had a vintage style themselves, such as this stylish lady rocking the 1950s look perfectly…

Kensington Market is not your average market. A couple of hours is not enough to fully appreciate this place. In fact, I was happily lost in this wonderful world for the whole day.

I wasn’t actually on the look out to buy anything, but my Scottish friend was seeking an army-style jacket.

She ended up finding the coat that she wanted and also made friends with this huge, fluffy dog that belonged to one of the shop owners who incidentally informed us that he ran the market’s cannabis cafe. This explained why he appeared to be as high as a kite. 

It looked like every inch of the vintage shops were covered with eye-catching displays.

The walls outside were also decorated…

And so were some of the rooftops…

There was a car that had been transformed into a unique plant pot…

And one lamppost was filled with comments and messages…

Crazy mannequins were all over the place.

 

Tips for visiting Kensington Market

 

  • The market is open seven days a week, from 11am-7pm.
  • It can be found near the Chinatown district and is bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street and College Street.
  • Most of the vintage shops tend to open around 12pm. Some of the fruit and vegetable stores open earlier.
  • There are lots of places to get something to eat on the cheap and it is not hard to find gluten-free options and organic produce if you have allergies.
  • Set aside a good chunk of the day. It is possible to spend a long duration in just one of the vintage shops, let alone all of them.

Have you ever visited Kensington Market? If you haven’t, do you like the look of this place?

 

 

7 Comments

    • October 1, 2012 / 02:13

      I loved it so much here :-)

  1. October 2, 2012 / 06:57

    Loved seeing your views of the shops in Kensington Market. I was there in June, but didn’t get to spend much time, but really enjoyed the vibe of the area. Great pics.

    • October 5, 2012 / 14:02

      Thanks Cathy, it’s such a cool place. I want to go back someday…when I have lots of money to spend!

    • October 5, 2012 / 13:57

      I had an amazing omelette there. I know this is random, but it was very tasty!