The buzzy retail scene in Vancouver’s Chinatown embodies perpetual change of the I Ching. A handful of creative, stylish boutiques recently opened doors alongside the rich array of traditional shops. When you head out to the Chinese New Year festivities this weekend, make sure and check out the evolving shopping experience in one of North America’s largest Chinatowns. With options ranging from recycled leather handbags to artfully curated, minimalist menswear, you won’t want to miss out on the fresh talent.
I’ve listed five Chinatown boutiques for the modern style-seeker below. I’ve also recapped Chinatown’s already established retail faves.
Five Chinatown Boutiques for the Modern Style-Seeker
1) Board of Trade Co. (227 Union)
Board of Trade Co., which opened doors August 2011, is a concept clothing boutique focusing on tasteful, minimalist options for the everyday male. Board prioritizes up-and-coming creatives, carrying their clothes and sharing their stories with shoppers. Their credo: design is personal and a brand needs a face.
2) Charlie & Lee (223 Union)
Charlie & Lee is an edgy boutique for the style-savvy, concentrating on the owners’ favorite international labels from New York, Los Angeles, France, New Zealand, and Australia. Charlie & Lee also carries select apothecary products, candles and anything else they fancy. Doors opened April 2011.
3) Spencer Interiors (708 Main)
With 80 feet of exposed storefront and a stunning interior design by AA Robins Architect, Spencer Interiors curates an impressive array modern furniture and lighting from Italy, Spain, Germany and Sweden. Doors opened October 2011.
4) Blim (115 East Pender)
Founded in 2003, Blim is an independent arts and crafts facility in the heart of Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown that does everything from screen-printing and button-making to audio and film. Blim builds community with creativity. Work by Blim artists is available at Blim’s gift shop and seasonal markets.
5) Erin Templeton Handmade Leather Accessories (511 Carrall)
Yes, Templeton opened way back in 2002. The designer makes the list because she was among the first of the young creatives to move to historic Chinatown. Templeton showcases one-of-a-kind, new and recycled leather bags alongside hand-picked vintage goods. Her studio is onsite, so if you’re lucky, you may glimpse her at her craft—making bags, of course!
Chinatown’s newest boutiques are getting a lot of attention. Read WE’s Q&A with boutique owners on the changing face of Chinatown here.
Chinatown’s Traditional Retail Favourites
The Vancouver Chinatown BIA Society celebrates Chinatown’s old school cultural institutions and exciting newbie hotspots, promising visitors: “everything you love about traditional Chinese culture and the modern new establishments that excite you.”
Some of the most-visited shopping spots in Vancouver’s Chinatown that have withstood the test of time include: The Chinese Tea Shop (tea-lover boutique with exquisite blends and accessories), Bamboo Village (most comprehensive array Chinese-imports), Chinese Art Crafts (calligraphy supply shop), Bombast Furniture (Canadian-made, modern decor) and the seasonal Chinatown Night Market.
What’s your favourite shopping destination in Chinatown? Add by commenting.