With the concept of vintage flipped on it’s head, don’t expect any grime from this brand new Dundas West boutique.
Photographer / Jess Arnold
Wedged in between the late-night favourite, the Lakeview, and a TD Bank sits a small glass storefront. For years the spot was home to a ladies’ wear store called Vero Moda, with an aging italic handwritten sign. It was easy to miss until a fresh coat of white paint and three young women took it under new ownership and direction.
While Vero Moda catered to an older crowd, the past isn’t all that bad according to the three ladies behind Bridge + Bardot – Dundas West’s trendy new clothing shop.
Unlike the multitude of vintage shops in Toronto, sisters Gurjeet Bassi and Gagan Bassi, accompanied by Rose Broadbent, handpick every piece then spend over a week re-working them: washing them up to three times, chopping then re-sewing to ensure each piece fits the style they want in their store.
“We really promote the idea of not smelling like a vintage shop, not feeling like a vintage shop,” said Broadbent, who sat down with me of behalf of B+B. “We curate each piece.”
With all this effort, the girls still promote the idea of affordability first and foremost.
“Our main mission is to promote this really affordable vintage line, then pair it with a local designer that is perhaps not so cheap but a beautiful pairing.”
The store itself was an evolution. Bridge + Bardot once existed solely on the premise of pop-up shops. The success of these shops eventually encouraged them to make this a full-time gig, opening the store in July.
The pop-up shops meant a manic month spent picking, altering, promoting and event planning, said Broadbent. The shows were then hosted at Gurjeet and Broadbent’s new media studio The New Beat (faithful creators and modifiers of our site), which they continue to work at in conjunction with the store.
“It was condensed into a month of insanity and then we’d have a few months off. Now, this is full time. It’s my life now.”
Their new reality is trying to “find [their] lives within this store,” said Broadbent, all part of their next chapter in fashion.
Its clear Broadbent breathes fashion as she stands in her store, gripping a coffee in head-to-toe original vintage designs.
“It’s how we dress. All of us dress in vintage with really unique local designer pieces.”
When you walk into their one-room space it is like you’ve walked into a swanky boutique. The groovy lounge tunes pound delicately in the background. The right wall highlights individual accessories, gold buckled belts and retro short heels. Then there are the clothes, positioned by colour and style, on the opposing wall. A hanger full of hand tie-died tanks and the current popular item – loose, almost gaucho-like patterned pants, hang on the left wall.
“I think that’s unique because you can find a $30 dress and a $100 necklace and you look amazing.”
The store evolved from hand drawn sketches done by Gurjeet, Gagan and Broadbent. Although Rose herself is an artist, she admits interior design is not her area of expertise. But with the help of the sisters’ brother, contractor Harpal Bassi, they transformed their often muddled ideas, drawing inspiration from stores in New York and Ottawa, into exactly what they wanted in two weeks flat.
As they try to grab hold of their own footing and routine they are still eager to expand. In the hour or so of conversation, Broadbent mentioned the store becoming part art gallery, involving more local designers, creating original designs and expanding to Los Angeles as just ideas dancing around.
“Even if we were to start our own line, it would be using vintage fabrics,” said Broadbent.
“We’re eager to expand, get more designers in,” she adds.
Even in the last moments of conversation, Rose jumped in to add that the store will hopefully start a personal shopping element. For a small but affordable fee, the girls will hunt for specific items for customers – say, that much needed dress for an upcoming wedding or that perfect fringed suede fall jacket. To top it off, they will of course add their own alterations to ensure the piece fits the individual perfectly.
It’s just another element for them in their weekly hunt for vintage finds. Customers trying to shop on a Monday will find the doors closed as the girls head to massive vintage warehouses in Toronto to do “the picking,” as Broadbent calls it.
“It’ll take a good week before that item is on the floor,” she adds.
There is a definite sense of passion in Broadbent’s voice that she’s not only doing this for her love of fashion but the enjoyment she gets out of helping customers.
“If we’ve missed a button or something we’ll sew it right there on the spot. We want to make sure they’re happy when they leave.”
Regardless of the time or effort spent reconstructing the piece, it’s rare she even holds onto her favourites anymore. The items that stand out are gone, she says.