First opened in Vancouver, Bang-On T-Shirts' shops have spread over the past decade to dot the globe. No matter which continent they call home, the custom-printing stores emphasize a retro style, filling their binders with hundreds of images inspired by fashion, pop culture, and music. Patrons flip through the binder of in-store designs, selecting ones to customize or print as is. Creative types bring their own photos or illustrations of the monster living under their house in for pressing. Once customers lay out their T-shirts and tank-top patterns, staffers emblazon the cotton tops right in front of them.
Dedicated to outfitting women of all shapes and sizes in alluring underthings, Elizabeth Schulz—owner of both The Cat's Pyjamas and Commitments Lingerie—carefully curates a varied inventory of apparel from brands including Spanx, Prima Donna, and Felina. An Arianne zebra pink zoo bustier and matching thong ($41) celebrates nature’s flashy patterns and enables wearers to successfully infiltrate Serengeti birthday parties. The delicate detailing surrounding a lace chemise by Private Alerts ($50) facilitates flirtatious layering, and a pair of Hanky Panky lace boy shorts ($44) marries a masculine style with graceful fabric. Customers can also leap into a pair of Grenier control briefs ($44–$49) whose curve-streamlining confines whittle down silhouettes without the hassles of tricking a shadow into running laps.
Showcasing globally flavoured designs by scores of up-and-coming Canadian designers and artists, Eleven : Eleven invites socially responsible fashionistas to slip on styles crafted from sustainably sourced textiles, surplus materials, and authentic saris and silks purchased from India at fair-trade prices. Pass through the rustic red exterior into a boutique beaming with sun-soaked fabrics, flowing skirts, and India-inspired pieces.
As a professional dancer, Jonathan Kane consistently turned to tea when he needed help summoning stamina for his routines. These days, he channels that same passion into his shop, The Naked Leaf. Here, he dispenses a range of organic teas that are imported from around the world and free of preservatives and artificial flavours, and he even keeps free samples on hand for visitors to taste test. He also encourages his customers to decorate their tea canisters with customized labels crafted from their own art, photos, and text.
When he's not espousing the benefits of tea, Jonathan dedicates his time to supporting the creativity of his community. Each canister of tea he sells is plastered with a limited-edition label that showcases artwork from locals, whose pieces adorn the shop. The Naked Leaf also stocks handmade tea ware from local artisans, locally made chocolates, and tea leaves harvested from local caffeine trees.
Box Paper Scissors stocks its colourful storefront with aesthetically appealing paper, greeting cards, and gifts for an array of worthy occasions. Pay homage to anniversaries with a card ($3.50–$8.95 on average) or make undervalued grocery lists scream with poetic power inside an Eccolo journal (most are $13.95–$29.95). The "Counts as a Vegetable" magnet ($6.19) reminds tomatoes and cucumbers of their misunderstood space in society, and a vast stock of stationery provides the parchment for thank-you notes, birthday wishes, and restraining-order requests.