The most interesting stores are those with a concept or a theme that houses different brands cohesively. Items are brought in based on a particular style that follows the signature of the store and its owners. You can even observe this style in the store’s interior design. They concentrate their concept into a smaller space that you get a gist of once you’ve walked in. Sometimes, you can immediately sense whether you like the store’s products or not, just from its overall appearance.
The online counterparts of these eclectic yet focused shops have developed unique concepts that anyone with Internet access can browse. I invite you to explore notjustalabel.com, garmentory.com, fancy.com, and district8.com.
Not Just A Label is an online shop that has become an important platform for emerging designers. Even though it’s only four years young, it’s been successful in its aim to provide these designers (from all over the world, I might add) with exposure and potential customers with buying opportunities, by making studio pieces directly available to its online browsers. You’ll discover brands and designers that you’ve never heard of before and revel in the work born of their imagination, ingenuity, and talent.
You’ll discover BLANKBLANK’s printed shirts (Latvia), Olgajeanne’s woven necklaces (France), Rachel Entwistle’s alchemical accessories (London, U.K.), Mario Salvucci’s oxidised earrings (Italy), Louve de Nordneg’s scarves (London, U.K.), Ahlvar’s blouses (Stockholm, Sweden), Harem Royal’s weaponized jewelry (Belgrade, Serbia), and Tesler+Mendelovitch’s wooden clutches (Tel-Aviv, Israel). I particularly fell in love with Petra Ptackova’s printed window dress, Ayaka Nishi’s spider pearl ring, and The New Present’s standard triangle bag.
Garmentory is a bidding site run by Adele Tetangco, Maggie Chok, and Sunil Gowda. Pieces hosted by boutique stores are offered up for bidding like in an auction. Most of these boutiques are in Vancouver, but here you can shop without catching the ferry! Garmentory has a simple four-step model for beginners: 1 — See something you like? Make an offer on it. 2 — The boutique you made an offer to will accept or reject your offer. 3 — If accepted, your item will ship directly from that boutique. 4 — If rejected … try again!
Fancy.com is fancy, in product and price. However, the site doesn’t just offer clothes or accessories, it also offers crafts, gadgets, home decor, and even vacations. It’s like Pinterest, but you can make purchases directly off the site’s catalog, which is described as “curated by our global community with one thing in common: exceptional taste.”
The most unique thing about Fancy is the “Fancy Box.” You can buy a monthly subscription to a Fancy Box with contents selected from whichever merchants you choose, like Coco Rocha. There’s even a Fancy Food Box! Monthly selections of fancy food delivered to your door? Yes, please.
Finally, District 8 basically lets you shop in Sydney, London, and New York (soon to include Paris and Hong Kong), as though you were travelling in those cities. The site aggregates stores and boutiques (offline and online) from each city that you can add to your district. By doing so, you keep yourself updated on news and sales of those stores. The best part is that you can put the huge selection through different filters—the most useful being the option at the top left corner of the webpage that filters for those stores that deliver to you. For deliveries to Canada, there are 619 stores! It’s wanderlust without the wandering.
These online shops are essentially amalgamations of little bits of everything, but with a more interesting retail avenue. They don’t only combine the works of different designers, but also combine fashion and technology, therefore enhancing the shopping experience and allowing you to discover new brands and styles from the comfort of your home. As much as I love physically visiting shops, a busy schedule makes me grateful for the innovation.