The revivial of rue St-Joseph in Saint-Roch has been one of the most important developments of the past few years. The area was abandoned by businesses that opted for the malls of the late 1950s, but new customers and retailers are now emerging in the area. Filled with young, modern stores and independent boutiques, it has given the city a much-needed boost of cool.
Tucked down a quiet side street in Saint-Roch, Boutique Lucia F. (422 rue Caron, 418/648-9785; Wed.-Fri. 11am-6pm, Sat. 11am-5pm) is a vintage store carrying everything from old 45s to women’s pumps. Owned by a young graduate of design, there is an easy feel to how the whole place has been put together; bags line the windowsills, hats are pegged on the exposed brick wall, and old mismatched sitting room chairs are placed throughout the store. Styles for men and women are carried, and the majority of prices are $10-20. And if you like that magazine rack currently holding scarves, well, you can likely buy that too.
Located in a former bank, women’s boutique Esther P (873 rue St-Jean, 418/704-7774; Mon.-Wed. and Sat. 10am-6pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sun. 11am-5pm) is one of the most stunningly designed stores on St-Jean. The store carries labels that are typically hard to find in Québec City—James Perse, French Connection, Ella Moss, Graham & Spencer. Owner Esther Pichette’s aim is to dress women of all ages. The boutique has an open-concept feel with high ceilings that show off the original moldings, blonde-wood floors, punches of red, and lots of windows and glass to keep things modern.
Fans of manga and cosplay congregate at Fanamanga (383 rue du Pont, 418/614-5052; Tues.-Wed. 10:30am-5:30pm, Thurs. 10:30am-10pm, Fri. 10:30am-11:30pm, Sat. 11am-11:30pm), a store turned hangout that brings a touch of Tokyo to Québec. It’s filled with Gothic Lolita outfits, cosplay accessories, manga, magazines, Japanese treats like Okonomiyaki chips, curry-flavored sweets, and any number of trinkets, dolls, and ephemera associated with the culture. The stools at the bar are usually filled with fans in cosplay, sipping their bubble-tea and bobbing their heads to the Visual Kei videos playing on the TVs above. They also have a karaoke box you can rent by the hour that has songs in Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
As the name suggests, Flirt (525 rue St-Joseph E., 418/529-5221; Mon.-Wed. 9:30am-5:30pm, Thurs.-Fri. 9:30am-9pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-5pm) is a brightly colored boutique is all about clothes that bring out your inner tease, specializing in lingerie for both men and women. The walls are lined with intimate apparel hanging tantalizingly in rows. The store prides itself not only on the many hard-to-find European brands they import, like Eva Racheline and Parah, but also on the fact that they carry hard-to- find sizes, including the line Empreinte, for the fuller-busted woman. Those looking for swimwear can pick from lines here like Cristina and Canadian company Shan. They also offer made-to-measure, but you must make an appointment first.
Jupon Pressé (790 rue St-Jean, 418/704-7114; Mon.-Wed. 10am-6pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-6pm) is an inviting women’s boutique on St-Jean is dedicated to emerging designers from Québec City, Montréal, and beyond. Brightly decorated with purple walls, flashes of yellow, bright floral wallpaper, and an inflatable moose head, the shop has an especially clean layout with pieces from designers like Eve Gravel, Supayana, and Valérie Dumaine. Nicely hung and spaced, nothing looks too crowded. T-shirts are perfectly piled on Formica tables, while accessories are laid out deliciously on cake plates; jewelry is displayed like art, framed and hung on the wall, though always easily accessible. Along with things for you to wear, they also carry cute, kitschy finds for the home.
Hit up Kitsch (425 rue St-Joseph, 418/528-2222; Mon.-Wed. 10am-5:30pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sat. 10am-5pm, Sun. 11am-5pm) if you’re a young woman who is always on trend, faithfully follows Queen Bey, and wishes Nasty Gal was your own personal closet. Carrying everything from Cheap Monday jeans to silky, floral bomber jackets and Ain’t Laurent (without Yves) T-shirts, this store caters to the coolest looks and latest pieces. Owned by two super stylish and savvy mavens, this is their second location (the first Kitsch is located in Sherbrooke) and can be found on the über-hip St-Joseph, just a few doors down from that dictator of cool, Urban Outfitters. Curved, white furniture, like the kind you’d find in an 8-year-old’s bedroom is used as display cases, while the rest of the space is open and airy. The shop’s staff is eternally youthful, but also extremely helpful and competent, so don’t be shy.
Fans of vintage will get a kick out of Lobo Lavida (511 rue St-Jean, 418/521-3397; summer Mon.-Wed. and Sat. 11am-7pm, Thurs.-Fri. 11am-9pm, Sun. noon-6pm; winter Mon.-Wed. noon-5:30pm, Thurs.-Fri. 11am-8pm, Sat. 11am-5:30pm), a high-ceilinged store, filled to the gills with vintage and consignment pieces. From a pair of barely worn knee-high boots to hats from the 1930s and authentic RayBan aviators, this store has it all. Situated in what was once an old house, the entire first floor has been taken over with display cases full of costume jewelry and purses, with clothes lining the walls and on carousels in the center of the room. The prices are reasonable, and those usually put off by secondhand goods should know that everything here has been cleaned, ironed, and hung according to color.
The Québec City boutique of Montréal-based designer Philippe Dubuc (537 rue St-Joseph E., 418/614-5761; Tues.-Wed. 10:30am-5:30pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10:30am-9pm, Sat. 10:30am-5pm, Sun. noon-5pm) couldn’t be sleeker. The long, narrow store is like a mirrored corridor with all-white floors, ceilings, and walls giving it an extra modern kick. Distinctly masculine clothes are represented in the store, made all the more cool by its location in the Saint-Roch neighborhood. Though Dubuc is primarily a menswear designer, fashion-forward women shouldn’t think twice about trying on a piece or two in this fabulous hall of mirrors.
Casual shoes for men and women can be found at Schüz ( 748 rue St-Jean, 418/523-4560; mid-June-mid-Oct. Mon.-Sat. 10am-9pm, Sun. 11am-7pm; mid-Oct.-mid-June Mon.-Wed. and Sat. 10am-6pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sun. 11am-5:30pm), a relaxed boutique on St-Jean. Steve Madden, Tsubo, and Chinese Laundry are available for women, while men’s brands include Asics, Onitsuka Tiger, and Camper for both sexes. Though there is definitely more of a choice for women, men looking for something unfussy, masculine, and modern, or just a new pair of everyday sneakers, are sure to find it here. The decor is minimal with the shoes displayed on the wall and the center of the room taken up with seating and seasonal displays. Winter boots are one of their specialties, so they always have a range of styles for both sexes come autumn.
Signatures Québéçoises (560 rue St-Joseph E., 418/648-9976; Mon.-Wed. 10am-5:30pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-5pm) is a relatively new shop in Saint-Roch dedicated to local designers. If you’re interested in a snapshot of Québécois fashion as it’s made here, then this shop is a must. Taking over the semi-basement of a church, the space has been completely refurbished and modernized, so much so that you’d never realize you were in a church basement. Open and sprawling, the space features the work of a number of different designers and different styles and price ranges. Expect everything from street-wear brands like Lady Dutch and Kärv to specialty brands Yoga Jeans and Blank and higher-end designers like Stacey Zhang, Harricana, and Tavan & Mitto. The clothes and accessories suit just about any age and style, though there’s much less choice for men.
Proof that Saint-Roch is indeed the fastest (and coolest) growing neighborhood in the city, style savvy womenswear boutique Swell & Ginger (765A rue St-Joseph E., 581/742-7080; Mon.-Wed. 10am-6pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sat. 10am-5pm, Sun. 11am-5pm) put down roots here in mid-2013. Modern, open, and sparsely decorated with heavy wood tables and steel fixtures, the boutique would fit right in in New York’s East Village or London’s Portobello Road. Labels include Rich and Skinny Jeans, Tiger of Sweden, and House of Harlow. Don’t let the label love mislead you, however. Prices are surprisingly reasonable.
Though Tohu Bohu (775 rue St-Joseph E., 418/522-1118; Mon.-Wed. 10am-5:30pm, Thurs.-Fri. 10am-9pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-5pm) specializes in upscale footwear and carries lines like Emilio Pucci, Kate Spade, and Marc by Marc Jacobs, it’s not just a shoe store—they also do pedicures. With a name that means “confusion” and “hubbub,” Tohu Bohu may surprise you. The store’s dynamic streamlined design—plush gray banquettes mixed with high-gloss, red-and-black shelving and illuminated cubbies—puts the emphasis on the shoes and bags. Come to browse or come just for a pedicure or manicure, which you can enjoy while you eat; their pedi-sushi deal allows you to chow down on dinner from Yuzu while you get your toes prepped for those new peep-toes.