Posted on November 27th, 2012 by .

Walk around the narrow alleyways of Old Montreal and you could get the impression that this place is old school. But our fair city’s original site is also home to the most cutting-edge fashion…

Our Shop Hop guides are designed to help you scope out the most fashionable finds in town by suggesting easy-to-walk excursions through the city’s nicest neighbourhoods. Not only will you get a feel for Montreal as locals experience it, you’ll also come away with souvenirs that’ll remind you of your magical trip to la belle ville every time you wear them. After our hunt for designer ware in Outremont, get a load of the great men’s wear offerings in Old Montreal.

Surrounded by the classic grandeur of Old Montreal, abounding with European charm and ye olde quaintness, it’s natural to feel like you should be wearing your Sunday best. And as luck may have it, the city’s best designer stores have flocked to the area like as many golden-egg geese, ready to chic you up. The city’s founding neighbourhood is a hotbed of hot men’s wear.

Start on the corner of Saint-Laurent and Saint-Paul, one of the area’s main east-west shopping drags, with the Marché Bonsecours at your back, and head westward. Among the first shops you’ll encounter is the two-storey boutique of one of Quebec’s most famous designers, Denis Gagnon, who only recently started offering men’s wear to his clients. His looks are dark and dense and as edgy as the boutique’s modernist angular design, predicated structural shapes and on layering of different textures in basics hues (mostly black). He is a master leatherworker, which he contrasts with wools so soft you could melt into them.

U&I, across the street, used to sell his wares before he had a boutique of his own, but now counts among its international brands Moncler, Ralph Lauren and Mackage. They flirt with edginess in their selections but carry lots of great basics, from shoes to shirts to outer wear like wax jackets and puffer coats (both Quebec essentials). Reborn is a boutique that caters as much to the young and avant-garde as to the working man, depending on your level of daring. It carries fantastic brands like Acne Men (everything from denim to tees), Kin (the sharpest parkas) and Fleet Ilya (who make one mean looking basketball sling).

Time for a lunch break? Perfect coincidence, you happen to be in from of Bocata, the little sister of the next-door Barroco. The stars on the recently launched seasonal menu include an insane lobster dish with chestnut lasagna and anis-pumpkin purée, which you’ll enjoy sitting in a leather booth so silky soft you’ll think you’re still pawing one of Denis Gagnon’s jackets. Make sure to pair your plates with some of the private import vintages the restaurant is renowned for.

Espace Pépin awaits the refreshed you few doors westward; the grand shop owned by Lysanne Pépin mixes furniture with accessories for the home with jewelry, shoes and clothing. It’s a great place to pick up a rugged carpetbag or distressed leather chukkas. Michel Brisson’s eponymous boutique a bit further is much more streamlined, both in concept and style: the glass-tiled boutique itself offers perfect rows of clothing that are the utmost in gentlemen’s wear (he carries Dries Van Noten, Filippa K, Zegna and James Perse, among others). This is the place to go to pick up that flawless suit, luxurious wool overcoat or thick leather porte-documents by Montreal brand WANT les essentiels de la vie.

Okay, time for a little detour, but before – need a coffee? Pick up the neighbourhood’s best latte – and a sandwich for the hotel room later, why not? – at Olives et Gourmando. Turn right and head first to Quai 417, a boutique dedicated to independent designers where among the leather goods and high top sneakers you’ll find the most unique looks under one roof, including those conceived by local fashion makers Philippe Dubuc (otherwise known as the perfect suit man) and UNTLTD (a pair of up-and-comers you should know).

A little further northward on Notre-Dame there’s Rooney, home to colourful basics like two-toned canvas hand luggage by Heritage Leather Co., chambray shirts by Our Legacy or quilted jackets by Barbour. Finally, for the last stop you’ll be turning on McGill avenue, which runs at right angles with Notre-Dame: Stones Splash may not be a stylish high-design store like those on Saint-Paul, but it’s your stop for great rugged basics like thick wool sweaters, plaid shirts and chunky brown lace-ups – just the kind of thing you need to traipse around cobblestoned alleyways.

Boutique Denis Gagnon, 170B St-Paul West, (514) 935-6360
U&I, 215 St-Paul West, (514) 508-7704
Reborn, 231 St-Paul West, (514) 499-8549
Bocata, 310 St-Paul West, (514) 507-8727
Espace Pépin, 350 St-Paul West, (514) 844-0114
Michel Brisson, 384 St-Paul West, (514) 285-1012
Olives et Gourmando, 351 Rue Saint Paul West, (514) 350-1083
Quai 417, 417 St-Pierre, (514) 419-3848
Rooney, 395 Notre-Dame West Nº 101, (514) 543-6234
Stones Splash, 46 rue McGill, (514) 288-5827

Photo Credit Denis Gagnon: Sebastien Roy

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