Toronto's "King of Vintage" on where to discover the best second-hand finds.

By Alexander-Julian Gibbson
November 01, 2019
Rogerio De Douza
Credit: Courtesy of Flashback Vintage

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. My shoulders were draped with a buttery caramel leather coat that fit so snugly it was like it was custom-made. I stroked its chestnut-hued fur collar, feeling like a bird with exotic plumage, and knew in that moment that I wouldn’t be leaving without it.

I was in Toronto at Flashback Vintage, one of the city’s top second-hand stores, being personally styled by owner and local style icon, Rogerio De Souza. Roger, as he is known by his friends, has amassed one of the greatest collections of pre-owned styles in the city, earning him the moniker of Toronto’s so-called “King of Vintage.” Feeling like a boss in this slick leather number that Roger had hand-picked for me, I could see where he got the reputation.

Flashback Vintage Toronto
Credit: Alexander-Julian Gibbson

Last year, Roger consolidated his vast collection — which was previously spread among three different stores, the first of which opened in Kensington Market in 1997— into Flashback Vintage. The Queen Street West shop specializes in styles predating the 1980s— everything from flapper dresses from the 20s to bomber jackets from the 50s. It was expertly curated, so much so that it whetted my appetite for even more vintage shopping. Luckily, Roger had a treasure trove of ideas for where I could get my fix. Below, his recommendations on Toronto’s best second-hand shopping. Happy hunting!

Mama Loves You

Mama loves you Toronto
Credit: Alexander-Julian Gibbson

This mother-daughter-owned shop has all the sartorial staples you’d expect to find in a quality vintage spot (band tees, old Levi’s, floral printed shirts), with plenty of more daring styles—silk Japanese robes, bolero jackets— thrown into the mix. The store stocks men's styles, but the focus is primarily on women's.

Public Butter

Public Butter Toronto
Credit: Alexander-Julian Gibbson

While the sheer vastness of Public Butter’s inventory can be enough to intimidate even the most veteran of vintage shoppers, their selection justifies the search. And if the mere thought of hidden treasure isn’t enough to get your blood rushing, the affordable price point will. Everything in the store is $20 or less; the impeccably stitched patchwork quilted trousers I found cost less than my order at Shake Shack.

Gadabout Vintage

Gadabout Vintage Toronto
Credit: Alexander-Julian Gibbson

Although a bit removed for the nexus of Toronto’s vintage scene, centered around Kensington Market, Gadabout Vintage, on Queen Street East, is worth the trek. The shop is packed to the gills with amazing finds — specifically eclectic antiques and small trinkets (vintage lighters, pocket watches) — all housed inside handsome oak wardrobes. Not surprisingly, the store has provided wares for popular films and television series, such as The Shape of Water, Umbrella Academy, and Handmaid’s Tale. Owner Victoria Dinnick is always ready to search through her endless supply to locate exactly what you’re looking for.

Courage My Love

Courage my love Toronto
Credit: Alexander-Julian Gibbson

A clear choice for accessory lovers, Courage My Love has spent the past 25 years building up their trove of jewelry, fastenings, and other accessories. From custom turquoise jewelry from Mexico to authentic bear claw necklaces and 1950s cufflinks turned signet rings, they’ve got all kinds of pieces that you’re sure to not find anywhere else.