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New Activewear Boutique in Toronto Celebrates the Many Shades of Skin

PERMISSION, a new activewear boutique on Toronto's eclectic Ossington Avenue, is a small space with a big heart. In 930-square-feet, sisters Amanda and Laura Santino, who live in an apartment above the shop, have created an inclusive showroom for womxn of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. In conceiving the space, they eschewed size 2 mannequins and posters with pencil-thin models. Instead, the two opted for simple clothing displays dotted along a minimal arcade. The arcade's arches are a celebration of curved forms, as are the two circular changing rooms with their suspended circular halo-lights. From the street-front windows, each arch appears rendered in a cool, neutral grey. "The grey is a blank slate, open to everyone," says architect Trevor Wallace, principal of Reflect Architecture. But as customers walk through the arcade and look back, there is a welcome surprise: the flip side of each arch is finished in a warm gradient of pinks and browns, a wonderful celebration of diverse, beautiful skin tones. 

The arches are plywood, finished on one side with textured grey plaster and on the other with a pigmented laminate, and articulated in the middle with a strip of LED lighting. Photography by Jeremie Warshafsky. 
The displays and shelving are custom. Photography by Jeremie Warshafsky. 
White river rocks line the clothing displays, complementing the aggregate in the white and gray terrazzo floor tile. Photography by Jeremie Warshafsky. 
The grey street-view of PERMISSION. Photography by Jeremie Warshafsky. 
Trevor Wallace custom-designed the mirror in the changing room, adding hooks to accommodate the many layers of clothing needed to keep warm in the Canadian winters. Photography by Jeremie Warshafsky. 

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