Story by Caitlin Agnew
Photo by Brendan Adam Zwelling
When I arrived at Ruins for the opening party a few weeks ago, I was instructed by a hand-written sign in the window to “Go to the back alley”. Once there, I found myself in another world, one that felt about a million miles away from the Queen Street I’d just left. What seemed like hundreds of the city’s young and stylish were casually chatting, laughing, smoking. Beer was being served from a folding table and a DJ was in the corner, lit by a giant spotlight.
During regular business hours, shoppers, friends, and the curious are welcome to use the front door to visit Ruins. After months of preparation, owners Mikey Apples and Josh Reichmann, both veterans of the Toronto music scene, opened the store together in August – something they both had always wanted to do. Starting from the ground up, the pair did it all themselves, from buying in Paris and New York to dry walling the space. Hard work? “You think it’s glamorous, and it is…but it isn’t,” says Reichmann, clearly exhausted, yet happy.
They’ve succeeded in creating a space unique to the usual Queen Street strip. A plethora of one-of-a-kind details, from the chapel doorway to the goat foot in the display case, are indicative of the individuality that Ruins will bring to Toronto’s fashion scene.
“It’s not about just carrying certain lines. They have to fit with our look,” says Reichmann after taking me on a guided tour of their star attractions: Opening Ceremony, Assembly New York, and Patrik Ervell to name a few. “We want to curate a look that stays true to our vision.”
And curate they have.
Primarily stocking menswear (for now) there’s still plenty for the ladies, like a Pendleton for Opening Ceremony skirt or a reversible (you can wear it upside-down) winter jacket by Thomas. Rounding out the stylish offerings are items like unisex perfumes by CB I Hate Perfume (try it in “Burning Leaves”; perfect for fall), socks, shoes, jewellery, and a few choice vintage pieces.
Feeling artsy? Peruse works by Andre Ethier, Andrew Harwood, Jay Isaac, and Derek Mainella. Musically inclined? Pick up a CD by local bands like Actual Water, Little Girls, or maybe some classic vinyl cuts. For magazine-philes, Ruins also stocks the likes of Purple and Hunter and Cook.
Shopping aside, my favourite part of the store is the serene mini-barbershop in the back, through the archway. During my visit I was treated to an impromptu hair-curl by resident stylist Laura Bolton and left the store feeling like I’d just walked off the set of Gossip Girl. Open by appointment only, Bolton also provides hot razor shaves for men.
It’s clear that Ruins is full of potential. The idea is to keep evolving, changing, growing into whatever suits the mood and the brand. While I’m hoping for an immediate doubling (tripling?) of the women’s section, Apples and Reichmann have distant plans to launch their own clothing line – modern takes on vintage pieces. In the meantime, rest assured that there will always be something new and unique awaiting you at Ruins.
Visit Ruins at 960 Queen Street West, Toronto.