Ah, streetwear! Deconstructed tees, cotton frocks, handpainted items, and kitschy jewels, I knew thee well! I may have grown out of my streetwear phase, but I'm still fond of the DIY ethos of streetwear designers. Kensington Market's The Rage is one place where they can show their wares: the tiny store--located at 13 Kensington Avenue--showcases the work of over 40 local artists, with offerings ranging from the classic deconstruct-o-wear to a surprise or two.
Emblazoned on the wall is "Stylegirl: a female surpassing standards in fashion." Owner Sarah Campbell--who is often on-hand, greeting everyone with a big smile--caters to these gals with a wide range of fashions that emphasize originality and outlandishness, and Toronto street style pride. "I'm all about fun!" she laughs. One standout is Mathieu Missiaen's handpainted shoes ($225): you can take your pick between painted-on vintage pumps or bejeweled Keds.
The store stocks a lot of Paper People Clothing ($39-$79), your run-of-the-mill deconstructed line. I'm not really a fan of the standard Frankenstein sweaters (cobbled together out of heinous pullovers of Christmases past?) and the overplayed deconstructed t-shirt, but there are a couple of lovely, unexpected pieces like tweed shorts and corsets made from old denim. (These--and other reconstructed pieces--have the awesome benefit of buying local, and more sustainably.)
There's a handful of separates from other designers here, too, including Adrienne Butikofer skirts, Kingston Brightly jeans (which are printed with various Kingston-related ephemera), and Sui Generis pullovers in wild sixties-style prints ($109). If you're after a frock, there are some simple kitty-adorned cotton shifts from Cathy Peng or an Amie Scott day-dress fashioned out of wacky jungle-print fabric ($69).
And, if you must, the store does stock plenty of deconstructed tees. Try on one emblazoned with a sparkly turquoise tiger-print lightning-bolt from Sweet Shirt ($35), or one of Embody's cute, slim-fitting, hooded, crossed-over v-necks ($45).
My favourite offerings by far in the store are the accessories. One of Campbell's mandates is to "foster pop culture," which she does well over in a well-stocked jewelry section that features plenty of robot imagery and Bill Murray earrings ($12). I squealed over the super-cute "Hello!" totes ($28), which feature collections of things (robots, skulls, penguins), with one merrily calling out via speech-bubble (duh), "Hello!"
Epidemic's hand-screened images like grenades and fighting skeletons spice up vintage ties ($24), while vintage purses from Playin' Jane get the artiste treatment, courtesy of spraypainted retro-looking ladies ($20-$25).
Old objects get new life as jewelry--Vling makes cool necklaces and earrings out of old vinyl, producing blue swallow danglies ($19) and angry white robot pendants ($19). Thank You Red takes sad-ass plates and uses the best-looking bits as pendants--choose from a variety of blooms, whether it be the brown outline of a daisy or a Victorian-looking pink blossom ($25-$40).
I myself may have moved on from streetwear for now, but the spunk behind The Rage's style makes me smile.