Located on Boulevard Saint-Laurent at the intersection of Rue Marie-Anne Ouest, ibiki houses a carefully curated mix of clothing, accessories, and art magazines. The boutique embraces an array of international influences, and brings a penchant for minimalist style to the heart of the Plateau.
The wide, immaculately clear glass windows enclosing ibiki are adorned with black framing, giving the exterior a polished appearance. Upon stepping into the boutique, shoppers are greeted by staff members who are warm, knowledgeable, and above all, effortlessly cool. It becomes evident that the space is not solely a place for purchasing the latest designer garments—though an ideal location for clothes shopping, the store boasts a more extensive collection of goods.
Designs by Commes des Garcons, Helmut Lang, and Cheap Monday all occupy their own corners of the store. A display of the latest Nikes graces the back wall. The affordability of the clothing and the locations where designs are sourced from vary; but products high quality and mesh with the store’s aesthetic.
It is clear upon first glance that the store embraces a clean and simplistic aesthetic. Modular white shelves carefully showcase design, fashion, and architecture magazines from varying corners of the globe. The walls of the store are all a pristine white. Sculptural installations comprised of hangers meticulously pinned against one another decorate blank spaces in the store. They are arranged by the owner, Jonah Leslie, giving a glimpse of the hands-on attitude he has towards his work.
Leslie set up shop in 2011, after outgrowing his first shop of similar concept, Oldgold. A veteran of the fashion and design world, Leslie approached the inception of ibiki with a similar attitude to his previous endeavours.
“[I want to put] creativity at the forefront, while connecting Montreal to independent designers from around the world,” Leslie wrote in an email to the Tribune.
With this aim in mind, the project is right on target.
According to Leslie, the literal meaning of ibiki is ‘snoring’ in Japanese; however, the word takes on another level of complexity as it has meaning in many languages, designating different things in each. It thus can be interpreted in a myriad of ways by its audience.
“Functionality, wearability, comfort and accessibility are the main criterias in my buys […] amassing a worldly collection of east meets west destined for people here,” Leslie explained.
This worldly influence evident within the store is rooted in Leslie’s affinity for travel and exploration.
“Since I live here and come from here, it’s certain Montreal influences my subconscious,” Leslie said. “But I tend to take references from elsewhere, and expose myself probably more to culture when I travel. It’s not that I don’t [immerse myself in culture] here, I do. But I ingest more elsewhere, and [distribute] locally.” Although not limited geographically, much of this inspiration comes from Scandinavia, Korea, and Japan.
The boutique’s forays into differing aspects of design and fashion are ever-expanding. With the addition of stationary and perfume last year, and the print section the year before, it is exciting to consider what will come next.
“The development of the shop is ever-present because it’s a grassroots project started with nothing really, so room for expansion is limitless,” Leslie said. “At least that’s how I look at it.”
For what comes next, customers can look forward to a print section that brings together works from artists, both international and local, launching this season, and an in-house line the next. Constantly innovating and expanding its collection, ibiki proves to be anything but tired.
Ibiki is located at 4357 Boulevard Saint-Laurent. You can also find them online at http://ibiki.co.