Two Vancouver neighborhoods--the Gastown district and South Main--are emerging as hubs for boutiques with reworked vintage clothing. "Designers for our shop use fabrics like curtains and crocheted afghans and create new items out of them," says Wendy de Kruyff, owner of Dream, in Gastown (311 W. Cordova St., 604/683-7326). Most of those designers are locals like Kim Brower, whose labels read 100 PERCENT RECYCLED--TRY IT! She took a green tank and enhanced it with embroidered flowers and denim detailing along the hemline and sides ($50). Dream's accessories are given the recycled treatment, too: Suzanne Cowan makes photo albums from old LPs ($61); Mishi Perugini uses candy wrappers to create wallets ($19).
Two miles southeast of Gastown, in up-and-coming South Main, a number of chic boutiques line Main Street. Chief among them is Eugene Choo, with its sleek SoHo sensibility (3683 Main St., 604/873-8874). The store specializes in pieces that don't try to hide their roots: An A-line trenchcoat dress by Toronto designer Preloved prominently displays the original London Fog and Pierre Cardin labels ($127), and Vancouver designer Erin Templeton reconfigures leather miniskirts into purses ($174). Regular menswear selections include navy-and-white blazers made out of old sweatshirts, and gray jackets constructed from chinos ($100-$122).
With pop-art rugs and graphic print wallpaper, South Main's Mod to Modern has the groovy vibe of a '60s rec room (3712 Main St., 604/874-2144). Sadly, the store's fabulous '60s and '70s lamps aren't for sale. "As you can imagine, the supply of good furniture is pretty limited around here," says owner Michelle Bergeron-Mok. "But how about that dress?" She's pointing to a piece from her own line, a stretchy halter dress adapted from clothing picked up at thrift stores ($85). Her latest designs also include remade sweaters, using hand-cut wool in earth tones ($95-$145). Mod to Modern sells repurposed accessories, too, such as zippered wallets made out of thin inner tubes ($19) and necklaces mixing both old and new beads ($30).
At Barefoot Contessa, tea towels and silky slips--and the white picket fence used as decoration--create a '50s feel (3715 Main St., 604/879-1137). Pastel sundresses made from recycled cotton fabrics couldn't be more girly ($130). The shop also carries jewelry, in the back, underneath an antique refrigerator door. Aspiring Doris Days will fall for flower brooches fashioned, naturally, from vintage fabrics ($23).
Vintage for real
At DeLuxe Junk Co. in the Gastown district, period accessories are paired with vintage duds--a faux-Prada purse in green vinyl ($30) and ropes of bright plastic and glass beads ($7) add flash to a strapless black gown ($26) with a bow-tie front (310 W. Cordova St., 604/685-4871). For guys, there are wool trousers, silk ties, and the occasional conversation piece, like a 1970s leather fish-scale jacket ($59). Front & Company, the 13-year-old anchor of the South Main strip, has a reliably massive selection of clothing, accessories, and housewares (3742, 3746, and 3772 Main St., 604/879-8431).