Urban life in Montreal heats up in the summer, when the city hosts a variety of street fairs, festivals and fêtes. More than 50 public events are lined up for this season alone, with some of these celebrations taking place along sections of Boulevard Saint-Laurent, called “the Main” by locals and a key cultural thoroughfare that runs north–south through the heart of Montreal. Simply walking this seven-mile stretch is a great way to explore many of the city’s most popular neighborhoods, including Quartier des Spectacles, the downtown arts and entertainment district; the Plateau, a bohemian francophone hub; and Mile End, a cultural melting pot with serious hipster cred.
Along the way, take the time to pop into the boulevard’s diverse array of independent boutiques—here, we’ve picked six must-see shops whose wares will instantly elevate your souvenir game. And a tip to the savvy shopper: In accordance with Quebec law, stores are generally required to close at 5 p.m. on weekends, so plan accordingly.
Beautiful leather goods in eye-catching colors line the walls of this chic showroom. This location is one of a select few for the 29-year-old Montreal-based brand—it has 21 outposts around the world, including Antwerp, Madrid and Osaka. Prepare to splurge on quality: You can snag a clutch wallet for just over $100* or a weekend travel bag for $400, both in aniline leather.
You’ll walk out feeling cool by association after scouring this well-curated vintage shop, what with the Jackie Chan and Scarface posters adorning the walls and “China Girl” by David Bowie blaring in the background. We spotted a men’s black blazer by Roberto Cavalli ($230) and a cream-colored silk dress ($114). Make sure to rifle through the delightful “$5 au choice” bargain bin (we discovered a gold lamé handbag, an oversize tie-dye hoodie and Calvin Klein jeans).
Kitsch indeed rules at this women’s boutique specializing in throwback pinup style. Peruse racks of ’50s-inspired clothing and lingerie. Recent finds include a sleeveless polka-dot dress ($69) and a sailor-striped tee with a red bow ($33), which you could accessorize with your choice of red, black or polka-dot cat-eye sunglasses ($15 each). The midcentury obsession with tiki pastiche lives on here too, with campy glasses shaped like coconuts ($16).
This pristine black-and-white showroom is a tastemaker’s paradise. Design aficionados can choose from of-the-moment clothing designers (Cheap Monday, Y-3, Baggu), specialty magazines (Another Man, Elephant, Lapham’s Quarterly), minimalist office supplies and more. Other highlights include the Malin+Goetz scented candles in tobacco, neroli or dark rum (starting at $19) and the “Draw Your Tomorrow” planners ($23).
The creaky wooden floors are the only things betraying the age of this family-owned clothing and footwear store, which was founded in 1928 and has taken up shop at this particular location since 1958. Its massive assortment of trendy brands ensures it has something for everyone: women’s sandals by Birkenstock ($111), Ben Sherman button-downs for men ($75) and a variety of Fjällräven backpacks (starting at $54).
While you won’t be able to squeeze one of EQ3’s upholstered sectional sofas into your carry-on, this Canada-based furniture brand has plenty of smaller household trinkets that you’ll want to make room for, such as a set of four coasters in white, black or walnut veneer ($16), a matte marble wine stopper ($6) and a modern, monochromatic alarm clock, available in white, tangerine, blue or yellow ($15).
All stores are on Boulevard Saint-Laurent.
m0851No. 3526; 514-849-9759; m0851.com
Kilo FripeNo. 3800; 438-878-8234; kilofripe.com
Kitsch’n SwellNo. 3972; 514-358-6336; facebook.com/boutiquekitschnswell
IbikiNo. 4357; 514-509-1675; ibiki.co
SchreterNo. 4358; 514-845-4231; schreter.com
EQ3No. 4428; 514-982-9992; eq3.com
- *All prices are in USD.
- NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
- Published: May 2016