Story by Justine Iaboni. Photography by Brendan Adam Zwelling.
Independent Designers Outlet (1418 Dundas St. W., 416-238-7045, shop-ido.com)
The term “outlet shopping” usually conjures up images of frenzied women coming home from Buffalo, wearing five layers of Rodarte for Target dresses in an attempt to evade those tenacious Canadian customs officers. Back in Toronto, Lara Stephenson has, thankfully, given a whole new meaning to the word “outlet.”
The designer of Revolve Clothing, Stephenson is also the owner of the Independent Designer’s Outlet (IDO), which offers customers chic, reduced-price items from a wide range of local designers. And, although the clothes are overstock from last year’s collections, Stephenson selects only classic items that are easily re-invented, like the timeless LBD or a silk, patterned tunic from Dagg and Stacey. It’s a win-win: Shoppers get sweet deals on high-quality, non-outlet pieces and independent designers finally have a space into which their closets can overspill.
When people hear the word “outlet”, most of them think about rummaging through racks of ripped clothing—the word carries negative connotations. IDO is a totally different experience. Why did you choose to call it an outlet?
“I always wanted ‘outlet’ to be in the name of the store, but my intentions for IDO were different from what the term makes people think of. I think the main difference is quality. I wanted IDO to be a place where designers could sell their overstock, but at the same time, all the brands we stock make really high quality stuff—and we won’t have a gazillion XXS’s or one sample size of something. We usually get in a full range of sizes from our staple brands like Juma.”
What’s the hidden gem that’s in-store right now?