Today, Kealan Sullivan will officially close 69 Vintage, and while she promises to host colourful pop-ups in the future and move her eclectic, well-chosen stock of vintage fashion online, her presence on Queen West will be dearly missed. Losing 69 Vintage and Kealan’s spirited street presence is a loss for Toronto fashion, one that our whole neighbourhood will feel.

69 Vintage was different than any other boutique in Toronto. Beyond the (hands down) best-dressed mannequins in the city, and racks upon racks of FUN fashion, watching and interacting with Kealan was always an act of pleasure in itself. Within seconds, she’d make you feel welcome, disarming you with a candid personal anecdote or an honest rundown of the daily drama. While so many in the fashion biz put on a front, or ping-pong airy chit-chat that goes on and on until it lands nowhere (sorry, but it’s true), conversing with Kealan was energizing, full of texture, and above all genuine and REAL. A trip to 69 Vintage was part therapy and part theatre: I always exited with more than I walked in with, even if I didn’t buy anything. If I did purchase a pair of cowboy boots, floral nightie or denim overalls, they had a rich history. (If Kealan didn’t know it, she’d invent it.)

Seeing 69 Vintage leave the neighbourhood makes me sad, it’s yet another indication that independent boutiques – the ones that are bursting with flavour, the ones that give our city a heartbeat and personality – cannot compete against fashion or cheap clothes factored in Asia. (YOU HAVE A CHOICE.)

Today, Queen West lost a beauty. While Kealan will continue to add spark to anything she touches or attends (parties are better when she’s there), our streets will become a little more boring.

Kealan, I bow down to you. You’ve kept me inspired for twelve years; your joie de vivre is palpable, your imagination contagious. Nothing will ever replace what you gave our neighbourhood. Not even close. Keep those pop-ups popping up, girl; you bring life to the materialistic and brighten our sidewalks, be it your wild sense of style or inviting warm smile.

Photos from 69 Vintage Closing Party. Click on any image to view as gallery.