Common Sort

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

If you're the type that gets utter satisfaction from purging and restocking your closet with a new wardrobe every season then you're likely well-acquainted with Toronto's many recycled fashion stores. Having been on the east side for nearly eight years (and five at a second location in Parkdale), Common Sort is a fashion fixture in the city's second-hand game and a regular stop for shoppers along Queen East.

A walk through the Riverside shop reveals a trove of gently used clothing and accessories. Hangers display designer denim and racks of crisp shirts and comfy sweaters invite you into the shop, while jewelry, shoes and purses neatly line the walls of the space.

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

"We like to think all our items are gems, but we're mostly looking for the items our customers come looking for and want the most," says Common Sort's Nicole Babin. "Brands like Wilfred, All Saints and Club Monaco are what sell best but we also look for higher-end brands like Burberry, Theory, any many others depending on style. Current styles sell better than vintage but we wouldn't pass up on the perfect wearable vintage dress."

Common Sort carries some new products as well including stylish umbrellas, $10 sunglasses, nail polish, and a line of basics — leggings, bandeaus, tights, socks, scarves, camisoles and slips.

"Pretty much anything you need to finish off your outfit or layer under sheer clothing," she says. "Everything except underwear, but we're working on that."

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

Unlike typical consignment, Common Sort's Nicole Babin says her shop buys and trades directly with its customers, many of which have become obsessively loyal, so stock is constantly changing, on-trend and appropriate to the season.

"Common Sort buys clothing directly from the public and we don't do consignment which means we're going to be a little more selective with our choices as we are giving out cash and store credit daily for those items," she says. "If it's in the store it's because one of our fashionable buyers thought it was a great piece — we don't put filler in the store."

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

Babin says the shop's staff love being in-the-know on fashion, current trends and what's to come so, along with classic timeless pieces, customers can often find fashion a little ahead of its time in the shop.

"We definitely focus on good brand-name clothing, but we will still buy a lower-end item from H&M if its style is current," she says. "We prefer to take those fast-fashion pieces and extend their lives a little longer. Vintage tends to break down in the shop as they are much older and zippers break and seems pop, and it just doesn't sell as well as contemporary pieces."

  Photo:   Matt Forsythe

After moving last year into a larger space at the corner of Queen and Boulton, Common Sort now shares a physical connection to its former spot next door — now Token gift shop and Tiny Record Store — so customers can easily move between the shops. They also regularly host in-store performances in conjuction with Tiny Record Shop, so you might luck out with scoring a deal on a one-of-a-kind item and a free concert all in the same store.

800 Queen St. E