Vancouver’s Shopping Gems
Jeweler Leah Alexandra may have won the following of Hollywood A-listers, but her style is pure Vancouver. Here’s her guide to the best heritage shops, avant-garde looks, and curated home design stores in the fashion-forward city—plus where to eat along the way.
Leah Alexandra’s passion for jewelry stems from an obsession with gems. “Putting on a pair of gemstone earrings is like wearing an amazing lipstick,” she says. “It brings light to the face in a beautiful way.” While in school for fashion communications in Toronto, she sold experimental pieces to friends and classmates before moving to Vancouver and launching her own studio. Her work is unmistakable: gold, layered and sparkling, the delicate, stackable rings and necklaces are beloved by celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Rosewood Mayakoba Curator Jessica Alba—not to mention legions of Instagram followers. Alexandra’s personal style, like her jewelry, is easygoing and effortless. “I’m very inspired by French street style. I wear a lot of neutrals, which are in a way a canvas for the jewels to steal the show.”
With a studio and showroom located in one of the oldest heritage buildings in the buzzy Gastown district, Alexandra has easy access to some of the city’s best shopping. But her favorite stores span more than one neighborhood. “Vancouver’s shopping scene is so special because it’s a reflection of how the city is laid out. The stores in each neighborhood give insight into what makes that area unique, with its own personality.”
Here, she shares Rosewood Conversations her favorite places for retail therapy,
Hill’s Dry Goods
This local women’s boutique from a third-generation Vancouver retailing family “has a heritage vibe, while still feeling fresh and new,” says Alexandra, who shops here for brands that range from James Perse to Rachel Comey. She also recommends the “amazing jewelry selection” from more than 30 designers.
Vancouver’s stylish set has headed to this Gastown shop for nearly two decades, browsing its curated collection from local and international designers. “It carries some of my favorite brands,” says Alexandra, who goes there for flowy tops from Ulla Johnson, clean looks from Sweden-based Filippa K, and shoes from New York’s Loeffler Randall.
The Cross Decor & Design
Home goods from around the world line the shelves, tables and stands of The Cross. Alexandra fell in love with the sprawling, 8,500-square-foot Yaletown store more than a decade ago, when she first moved to Vancouver. “It’s such a beautiful space,” says Alexandra, and its products—including lace bedding, hand-dipped candles and stools covered in Tibetan lamb’s wool—give her “inspiration for all things design.”
One of a Few
This Gastown boutique carries distinctive clothing, footwear and bags from emerging and established designers like Jesse Kamm and Style Mafia. “The selection is so curated,” says Alexandra, “and each piece is something special. I love popping by after work to see what’s new and say hi to their super-cool staff.”
Away from downtown, nestled among the single-story restaurants and bars of Main Street, Vincent Park “has a great selection” of fashion-forward accessories, shoes and apothecary items from independent brands. Vincent Park also has a photo booth to provide “an extremely cute keepsake” from your shopping expedition, says Alexandra.
Neighbour / Woman
Neighbour started as a men’s store in Gastown before owner Saager Dilawri opened a sister boutique a few doors down. Like its sibling, Neighbour / Woman mostly sells European brands such as Acne and Lemaire in an airy, minimalist space. “Have a browse and grab a coffee and snack next door at Birds and the Beets,” suggests Alexandra.
WHERE TO FUEL UP
Never shop hungry. Here’s where Alexandra recommends taking a much-needed food break.
Ask for Luigi
A five-minute walk from her studio, Ask for Luigi is “Vancouver’s worst-kept secret,” says Alexandra. “You have to show up right when they open to get a table—but it’s worth it. The pasta is to die for and it has such an intimate feel.”
Mr. Red Cafe
“This is my go-to for authentic and fresh Vietnamese fare,” Alexandra says of this no-frills restaurant in Hastings-Sunset. “Especially a bowl of pho on a rainy day, with a generous heap of fresh herbs.”
There tends to be a line at this outdoor stall on Fisherman’s Wharf near Granville Island, so Alexandra saves it for “a sunny day when I’m enjoying a leisurely afternoon.” She recommends the halibut and chips or the fish tacos.
Leah Alexandra: 3-229 Carrall St.; 778-320-3390
Hill’s Dry Goods Kitsilano: 2081 West 4th Ave.; 778-320-3390
The Block: 350 W Cordova St.; 604-685-8885
The Cross Decor & Design: 1198 Homer St. 604-689-2900
One of a Few: 354 Water St.; 604-605-0685
Vincent Park: 4278 Main St.; 604-879-6665
Neighbour: 45 Powell St.; 778-379-1409
Mr. Red Cafe: 2131 E Hastings St.; 604-710-9515
Ask for Luigi: 305 Alexander St.; 604-428-2544
Go Fish: 1505 W 1st Ave.; 604-730-5040
Featured image courtesy of Kat Willson