It's where Rufus Wainwright and Arcade Fire call home and a slew of cultural happenings such as Pop Montreal and New Cinema film festival annually pack the city limits. But Canada's French jewel is also a burgeoning fashion playground with a handful of promising designers operating under the radar. Head to the Mile End district, which was formerly a stretch of old industrial factories and textile shops, and you'll discover a smattering of chic shops and restaurants to peruse. Three of the city's most prominent fashion names have staked their claim hereâTavan and Mitto, Denis Gagnon, and Renata Moralesâas well as a slew of lesser-known creatives. Although it's more gentrified, the Mile End has still preserved its diversity and the markings of its past with graffitied walls and vintage ads splashed across the sides of brick buildings, but it's the eclectic residents of the hood and the shops they frequent that have made this blossoming area a local detour not to be missed.
A passionate thinker and designer, Denis Gagnon opened his eponymous boutique a little over a year ago, bringing his dark romanticism to this district of poets, painters, and writers. The minimal, glaringly white interior is the backdrop for his men's and women's lines in addition to jewelry by local label, Powerhaus.
5392a Boulevard Saint-Laurent
tel. 01 514 279 1719
Mexican-born, Montreal-based Renata Morales is known for her singular manipulation of fabrics, and her whimsical yet expertly shaped pieces have made her a prominent figure on the Canadian fashion scene. This month, the store is home to a hand-illustrated mural by local artist James Purcell, which will be on display until springtime.
5392 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
01 514 271 5061
Only a year old, this design gallery and retail space selects objects based on themes that spotlight internationally recognized and emerging artists even before they hit Moss in New York. Rotating their inventory every three months, the space's dark walls and neon lighting capture the intensity of the objects that fill the store. Currently commissaires is exhibiting works based on the theme Madame Chose, pieces designed solely by women.
5226 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
tel. 01 514 274 4888
Tavan and Mitto
Since 2001, designers Payam Tavan and Mike Mitto have been a force on the Canadian fashion scene. The duo opened their boutique around the same time as neighbors Morales and Gagnon, and offer a sharp, couture-like point-of-view. In addition to the Tavan and Mitto line of sleek leather gloves, hand-woven scarves, and snakeskin belts, the store offers a selection of cool handbags by fellow Montreal designer Christopher Kon.
5334 Boulevard Saint-Laurent
tel. 01 514 279 1212