Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring Preview 2011 @ Sporting Life, Toronto

I am decidedly not a sporty dresser. I’m actually not even a casual dresser. I literally flip flop between hot mess housewife and fancy girl. Don’t ask to see a pic of the former -- you will not get any evidence that I spend any time not looking fabulous from head to toe. My strong sense of personal style keeps me out of stores that I assume won’t carry pieces I’d wear and Sporting Life was on that list. Things changed when I took a tour with Robyn Shimada, Softgoods Divisional Merchandise Manager at Sporting Life, and was blown away by the stylish sporty pieces I was shown and the unexpected number of hard to find brands they carry.

I started my tour in more ‘typical’ fare. The stuff I expected to see inside Sporting Life’s flagship Yonge & Eglinton store. Tons of functional spring rain wear, fully waterproof, some sort of cute, some not so much. Brands like North Face and Columbia took over this section as well as their own house label. I was also surprised to see a huge collection of fluffy Canada Goose jackets and learned Sporting Life is actually one of the only stores locally that stocks them all year and they actually sell ALL year. If you have a style you keep missing out on each winter, come shop for it in the summertime and you may fair a little better.

From there we head off to the beach. Not literally of course, but the assortment of bikinis, one-pieces and cover ups left me dreaming of a vacation. Swimwear ranges from $60 - $500 at Sporting Life so it’s likely you can find a suit you love within your budget, but there are some cases in which a splurge might be necessary. I was completely in love when Robyn showed me this one-shouldered Spanx suit with a ruffle neckline. YES, SPANX! In other words I don’t have to work out like a maniac in order to rock a sassy suit. Hallelujah!

Towards the back of the store, where I probably never would’ve ventured if I had visited on my own, lies the fashionable mecca of Sporting Life. I screamed a little when I saw huge collections of L.A.M.B, J Brand, and Free People - labels I haven’t seen in big assortments really anywhere in the city. FYI - last year when those J Brand skinny cargos where impossible to find, Sporting Life was one of the only spots in the city to still have them. Of course, more recognizable brands like Polo, Ralph Lauren X, Michael Kors, Espirit, and Adidas by Stella McCartney can be found and there were also some great pieces from brands I hadn’t seen before like True Grit, Twisted Heart and Y3.

Throughout the the visit we did take a peak at more traditional territory too. Sporting Life carries a huge assortment of fashionable gear for golf, tennis, yachting (didn’t actually know that was considered a sport), and running. I must admit I was ready to take up any one of these activities in exchange for a brand new outfit. The shoe section held some surprises as well. Running shoes still bore me but who knew Birkenstocks are still sold in some very cute colours and Hunter ballet flats are now in existence for those who balk at wearing boots.

Sporting Life carries lifestyle apparel, equipment and accessories for men, women and children in its Toronto locations at Yonge & Eglinton and Sherway Gardens so bring your guy or shop for a little one while on shopping safari for yourself. It might just be my new spot to score a designer something that’s a little unique. I'll probably "dress it up" but hey, we've gotta be true to who we are, right?

Sporting Life, Toronto

--Tamika Auwai is a fashion junkie, splurge-a-holic and the Founder of Shop Socials

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