It’s been a time of great change in Canada lately. Marijuana was legalized nationwide this week, the Raptors have just embarked on their Kawhi Leonard era, and in the biggest development yet — to us, at least — one of Toronto’s dopest menswear stores has just moved. After 27 years on the gilded streets of Yorkville, revered boutique Uncle Otis has migrated to a considerably less bougie neighbourhood: Chinatown. That’s right — not second-coolest-street-in-the-world-according-to-Vogue West Queen West, and not even 39th-coolest-hood-in-the-world-according-to-Time Out Dufferin Grove. So what gives, and is Spadina the next street to be fetishized by a foreign publication?
“We felt that we outgrew what Yorkville was doing,” says Donnell Enns, who’s been running the shop since 2000. The contemporary men’s clothing store was initially opened in 1991 by keyboardist Roger O’Donnell of iconic British band/emo OGs The Cure. “We wanted to go to an area that had young fresh energy. I feel Chinatown’s changing quite a bit and is better suited to our vibe and our clientele’s vibe. More bars, more restaurants. A lot more tech companies. More of a scene here.”
In other words, yes: Toronto’s Chinatown is about to blow the eff up. (Peep the recently-opened Stussy shop just down the street.)
As for Uncle Otis, Enns says you can expect the store — known for its exclusive, limited-edition collabs with brands like Universal Works, Oliver Spencer, and Canada Goose — to reflect its new, younger neighbourhood by carrying “more streetwear, but of a higher tier.” Example: look for more pieces from London streetwear label Maharishi, known for its camo-heavy threads, intricate embroidery detail, and this rad military-and-kimono-themed jacket I couldn’t stop staring at when I visited the shop.
Among the hot trends Uncle Otis has observed this fall: “We’ve seen lots of red and lots on black this season,” says Vince Lai, the shop’s e-commerce manager and buyer. “A lot of brands have been using red in their jackets, shirts, scarves, and accessories. It’s very loud.” And in terms of materials? “This season’s fabric is definitely corduroy. Corduroy’s everywhere. We’re seeing brands doing cord trousers, cord jackets, cord button-downs.”
Looking for ways to incorporate street style pieces into your everyday, classic tailoring-inclined wardrobe? No sweat. “Just have fun with patterns and fabrics,” recommends Lai. “You can wear a suit with solid navy trousers and a solid navy blazer, but just have that fun little button-up with a touch of colour or a pattern. And instead of just always going for a nice, cotton flannel, try another material.” Like corduroy!
So friends, hypebeasts, countrymen, lend us your ears: next time you’re looking to cop the latest drop, head on over to Uncle Otis’ brand new spot. Then cop some of the city’s finest dumplings next door.