Some of Canada’s funkiest eyewear boutiques
BY SUZANNE SENDEL
In covering Canadian optical practices and visiting a variety of shops and boutiques, I am always in awe of a funky find.
Whether high-end luxury or a trip down memory lane, opticians get to paint their vision by design.
With so many creative destinations, personalized style and great vibes, our country offers many wondrous windows into the soul of eyecare that I couldn’t help but share.
I’m not sure if many of you know this, but back in the ’90s, I sold a TV show to WGBH/PBS in Boston. The premise was that of an eccentric, passionate interior decorator and his Hungarian sidekick who would tour the nation, critiquing, and co-critiquing, various destinations with a biting edge.
No matter how lavish or simple, we would base our destinations not only on the decor, but the people who have created a great space. Coming from an architectural and interior design background, I’ve always enjoyed how colour, space planning and originality have infused businesses. I only wish I had entered the optical world sooner, as I would have loved to feature some of these spaces I have found to be worthy of sharing.
Here are a few of our country’s best kept secrets, gems and destinations of optical shops that I have visited and have made me want to return.
Ahn Ton had a vision of creating an “open kitchen” concept, featuring a central workshop, when she opened Voskin’s in Griffintown in 2013.
Embellished with antiques and keepsakes from roadshows and fairs, walking into Voskin’s is like a trip down memory lane. So much to entice and engage the eye, while cool independent collections are spaced generously, throughout the displays. Craftsmanship, aesthetics and identity are where Voskin’s engages us,
through history, older objects—each telling their own story while delighting us in sharing the experience. The selection of collections is vast and yet based on a simple philosophy, one of true craftsmanship.
In 2016, Voskin’s opened their second location in Montreal’s hipster district, Le Plateau. With its crafty space and sunlight, a visit to either Voskin’s location is a warm and memorable experience.
WATERLOO’S EYES ON KING
When I first visited this boutique several years ago, what I found most interesting was how a simple narrow space was reshaped by inverted displays of rich wood, neutral colour with a feature back wall with a splash of blue, featuring a bright painting that epitomizes eyewear. Upon entering this shop, you are immediately drawn in by the warmth and splash of colour and simplicity by design. The expression “simple sells” is what comes to mind and
in the selection of the most highly sought-after collections, Marcus has created a warm space in the heart of Waterloo, for all to embrace.
MONCTON’S OFF THE WALL EMPORIUM
“Not your ordinary eyewear shop!” With over 25 years of experience, Steve and Jennifer have created a space that not only features independent and handmade eyewear, but accessories and various local business offerings as well.
Philanthropy is a big part of this boutique and when you enter this spacious shop, you are not overwhelmed. Instead, you are embraced by various independent and original collections, all placed by designer, with momentos that grace the groupings, as each designer has its own personality.
Much time and effort were put into this great find and what makes this shop so exciting is not only the layout and unique collections, but the people. There is a strong sense of family and community at “Off the Wall” and this is what keeps this shop on the top of my destination list.
TORONTO’S HOLLY EYEWEARStyle is everywhere and Holly knows her demographic well. Located in the heart of the trendy Yorkville district, Holly Eyewear is where passion meets fashion. With exceptional detail, this boutique draws you in by its simplicity and elegance. Its clean, sleek design is heightened luxury and yet understated.
Many celebrities shop at Holly’s Eyewear, you never know who you’re going to meet, and the limitless collections that adorn the store are provocative and exciting. It’s all about being original and keeping within the philosophy of uniqueness, while not overwhelming the customer. A great destination served
with a side of stellar service and cutting edge style.
GATINEAU’S PHILÉMON MAISON D’OPTIQUE
Hand-tailored to perfection, this destination is filled with rich wood, masterfully crafted presentation