Uncle Otis: A Curator of Timeless Streetwear

by Ozman Omar
photos by @norrstudio

If you’re looking for that everlasting style in men’s fashion, look no further than Uncle Otis, a menswear boutique located at 26 Bellair Street.

The store, which first opened in 1991, has musical roots. The original owner is English keyboardist and former member of the rock band The Cure, Roger O’Donnell, who named the store after American singer Otis Redding.

The current owner, Donnell Enns, worked as a sales clerk before he bought the business back in 2000. He describes the collection as non-trendy, but timeless. “I’d like to say our theme is streetwear mixed with a modern-contemporary look,” said Enns.

Uncle Otis collaborates with household brands like Canada Goose and Levis. Enns attends trade shows in New York and Paris, twice a year, to select brands he feels are appealing to the Toronto market and offer upper-tier streetwear.

“We work with major brands, but still look for niche products within those brands”

Oliver Spencer is one of their bestselling brands which provides a refined workwear design for the modern man.

Uncle Otis was the first streetwear store, in the area, to carry brands such as Stussy, Supreme, Noah, Silas, Burton Mark 13 and Maharishi. Other popular brands include, Universal Works, Norse Projects and orSlow.

Collections are carefully curated from under 30 brands; they aim to combine amazing fabrics and exceptional construction for a timeless look.

“The original thought was to be different, to stick out, to be the rebel of the neighbourhood,” said store manager Vince Lai.

Product popularity varies throughout the year, and there is a constant demand for all their brands.

“All of our brands do very well off the top.  Our item popularity changes season to season, but brand loyalty remains consistent,” he added.

When entering the store, at first glance, you get the sense Uncle Otis appeals to a young crowd, but Enns said they attract a wide range of customers.

“Most of our customers are in the 25 to 45 year range, but we attract shoppers of all ages,” he said. “For example, there is a retired professor who’s a regular at the store and loves our products.”

Most customers, who walk into the store, know exactly what they’re looking for. But for those who are uncertain, the staff will provide insight and help customers find something suitably comfortable.

Enns said ensuring the customer is comfortable with what they’re wearing is a priority. They are always making sure the customer likes the product, giving a great sense of pride to their slogan, ‘The Pursuit of Personal Style.’ Drop by the 25 Bellair Street location, or visit Uncle Otis online at uncleotis.com.