[W]alk into Paige Boersma’s Queen Street West boutique, Bicyclette, and you might start to feel like you’re dreaming.
Near the entrance hangs a small chandelier. Further in, accessories are neatly arranged on a delicate white vanity table. Throughout, bright clothing appears kaleidoscopic against the dreamy white walls and floor. Some pieces rest on sparkly hangers.
Boersma, a graduate of Ryerson’s Fashion Communication program, opened the store less than a year ago, but has already begun to build a successful brand. One, she explains, that relies heavily on the concept of juxtaposition.
“It’s kind of like street-style meets fairy tale,” Boersma says. “It’s a downtown vibe, it’s easy to wear, but it’s definitely got a whimsical thread to it.”
Boersma started Bicyclette as an online store in her final year at Ryerson. In 2010, as the brand grew more popular, she set up two pop-up shops: one in Kensington Market, and one further west on Queen. They were successful, so Boersma opened Bicyclette in its current location in March of 2011.
The store carries pieces made by local and international designers alike, and while some brands–like the L.A. brand, Wild Fox –are familiar to vintage fashion appreciators, others are more obscure.
From graphic t-shirts, to lace dresses, to animal-printed one-piece bathing suits, Bicyclette offers a diverse range of merchandise. What unite all the pieces are their unique details. Each item in Bicyclette is carefully picked by Boersma, and she prides herself on choosing special ones.
“I always look for items that have a story,” she says. “Whether it’s a story about how they were made or where they come from or even if they just evoke a story in their design.”
Boersma says she also tries to reflect the Toronto’s style as a city in the selection of her pieces, noting that the Queen West neighbourhood is particularly inspiring.
“Toronto has a very interesting style because it’s a mix of a lot of different things,” She explains.
“It’s European style and it’s L.A. style, and it’s New York. You really see that variety come out, especially in this part of the city.”
Pieces sold at Bicyclette range in price from $12 for some accessories, to up to $200 for some clothing. Stock is kept small, with only one or two items in each size available for purchase.
The name “Bicyclette” was inspired Boersma’s memories of traveling, and is meant to reflect the brand itself.
“Whenever I’ve been in Europe there’s always these fantastically dressed women, dressed from head to toe perfectly and they all ride around on their bicycles,” she says.
“Even in Toronto… biking is a functional thing but it’s also got its own style in a way. The store name kind of represents that.”
Boersma handles nearly every aspect of the business herself, with the help of only one other full-time employee. Her deep involvement in all areas of her work allows her to feel connected to her business. This renders her slightly hesitant to expand, she says, as doing so would mean she would have to gradually become less involved in some areas.
According to Boersma, Bicyclette does have some expansion plans for the next year, but what they are exactly, she will not say.
For the time being, these plans remain “top secret.”
Photography by Shanene Lau