Every time I travel to major cities around the world I’m constantly reminded of just how good we’ve got it here in Toronto when it comes to vintage shopping. Not only do we have amazing shops and boutiques with incredible selection at great prices, but we’ve also got access to a wide spectrum when it comes to the vintage shopping ‘experience’ you’re looking for. You can dig through bins and piles of clothing to find gems for a few bucks, or you can sift through highly catered racks of second hand runway pieces. Not only is vintage shopping a sustainable way to update your wardrobe, but here in Toronto most of the businesses that sell vintage are independently owned. This is what I love about Vintage Crawl Toronto and their dedication to not only getting people excited about shopping vintage, but highlighting great local businesses and bringing a community together, twice a year. The next event is taking place on October 24th, which is why I wanted to highlight its co-founder (and vintage enthusiast) Odessa Paloma Parker.
Business Name: Vintage Crawl Toronto
Name & Title: Odessa Paloma Parker, co-founder and event director
Education: Honours BA from U of T, Publishing certificate from Centennial College
Edit Seven: Tell us about Vintage Crawl Toronto, what’s it all about?
Odessa Paloma Parker: VCTO is a late-night shopping event that encourages people to embrace a passion for previously loved garments, accessories and home décor.
E7: Why did you start the Crawl? What inspired you to start?
OPP: I started the Crawl seven years ago because I knew so many cool people who had vintage and consignment stores in Toronto, and I wanted to nurture their community. I was partially inspired by the now-defunct ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ events that were thrown by Vogue and other major fashion industry players, but also by my own personal love of buying and collecting vintage; I’ve been shopping vintage since high school and about 90% of my closet is previously loved pieces.
E7: What makes the bi-annual event special?
OPP: VCTO is special because it brings together local brick-and-mortar retail and online vendors doing pop-ups; there’s such an array of styles and eras represented – there’s truly something for everyone!
E7: What motivates you to keep the Crawl going each year, even as a side hustle?
OPP: I think shopping vintage is a real opportunity for people to let their personal style shine through; sure, there’s a lot you can mine from vintage if you want to look trendy or contemporary, but there’s also so much unique stuff out there. It’s fun to mix it all up for a really personalized aesthetic. I think it’s also more important than ever to be thinking more about where your clothing comes from, and where it goes when you’ve stopped wearing it…
E7: How has the event expanded over the years?
OPP: We’ve seen a lot of interest from people selling vintage online or through social media platforms; this season we have a pop-up from Vera Park Vintage happening at the Anansi Bookshop on Sterling Rd., and the multi-vendor Hippie Market is happening at 9 Ossington Ave. again.
E7: Have you seen a rise in interest in supporting local businesses as well as vintage and more sustainable shopping over the years?
OPP: Yes, definitely. People are enthusiastic about shopping sustainably, and putting more effort and consideration into where they spend their dollars. I feel like VCTO was a pioneering event that has now become an important way of life for consumers.
E7: How do you select the businesses that take part in the Crawl?
OPP: All kinds of vendors are welcome, as long as they can find a space to pop-up in or have an existing shop; that said, the Crawl primarily takes place between Spadina/Queen/Lansdowne/Dundas. I’m always thinking about ways to expand and grow each season though…
E7: What can people expect when they attend the Crawl?
OPP: Deals, snacks, DJs and more! Each store does their own thing to make the night special. And there’s a real sense of camaraderie with fellow shoppers encouraging purchases, and just setting a really nice tone to the vibe.
E7: Is there anything new to this year’s Crawl that we should know about?
OPP: In addition to our pop-ups and awesome list of local retailers (many of whom have been participating since the start!), we’re hoping to shine a light on some brands that are doing amazing things with upcycled textiles… will be announcing soon!
E7: What are some of your top tips for how to shop vintage for beginners?
OPP: Make sure to try pieces on; do a bit of research on what shops/vendors are participating so you get a sense of what to expect from their selection; wear a bodysuit under your clothing if you want to try things on quickly and don’t want to wait for a change room.
E7: What shops would be your top recommendations for someone new to vintage shopping in Toronto?
OPP: Mama Loves You has a great assortment of pieces from many decades, and is even selling some vintage clothing patterns for those who like making their own clothes or want to try that out. Kensington Market is always a fun place during the Crawl. And I love VSP for more current/contemporary consignment items – lots of treasures to be found!
For more information on Vintage Crawl Toronto’s upcoming event and the full list of participating retailers, please visit VintageCrawlToronto.com
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)