Toronto is full of talented queers. Some of them shine under a spotlight, some shine behind the scenes and screens of the city and some run a business. TKVO is one of those and Tate Sameshima is the owner. It's a shop on Dundas west that carries their own clothing lines, as some other select queer items of extreme interest.
We're such big fans of their style, aesthetic and vibe we asked them a few questions. Visit Tate and Rowan and tell them we said hi. Here's what they had to say for themselves.
Why do you exist?
I’ve always been the lone artist amidst an entirely medical family, but they have attended every exhibition and have proudly stood by my side. TKVO is a medical acronym that stands for “to keep vein open.” TKVO is my lifestyle shop, named in honour of my family and the field they’ve dedicated their lives to. I suppose it’s my attempt to keep them close. For me, TKVO is a reminder of how to tackle each and every day: stay open, stay positive, stay hopeful.
Why should people come in from the street to visit you?
We’re just awesome. Aside from our cheeky marquee messages, TKVO is a safe space. Everyone is welcome to visit us, give any piece of clothing or accessory a try (free of judgement) and have a chat. We never assume an individual’s identity. Pronouns are very important to us, but we never take ourselves too seriously. Besides, we carry some cool shit. We offer a tightly curated collection of both local and international brands, most of which you can’t find anywhere else in Canada. You can only find miniature figurines fucking queerly in a geode here, folks.
What makes you stand out amongst other queer-owned businesses in Toronto?
I’m an out and proud trans man and my TKVO partner in crime is a transcendent trans woman. We really understand the daily struggles gender non-conforming people face, from finding a safe public washroom, to being pointed in the direction of a gendered change room. No one will ever experience those challenges in our store. The only challenge you may encounter is our (overly) enthusiastic shop dog, Riggins, who is quite free with his affection. Truth is, we’re honoured to be in the company of other queer-owned businesses in Toronto - there should be even more of us.
Name three of your favourite things you carry in-store.
LGBTQ+, Feminist, sex positive goods made by Halifax’s Anna Taylor. A ‘hold me dearly, fuck me queerly’ hand embroidered hoop? Yes, please. LA based Otherwild’s iconic ‘The Future is Female’ apparel. TKVO’s very own Super Series apparel: Super Queer, Super Fem, Super Butch, Super Trans, Super Ally, Super Human. (Spoiler: more to come.)
What’s your in-store playlist usually?
Honestly, it’s Google Play’s ‘Mom Jean Jams.’ Can you resist a playlist with Dolly, Cher, Shania and Etta James? I know I can’t.
What queer parties or bars are you fans of?
The first date I had with my partner was at (the new) Glad Day Bookshop, so that’s a winner. And I never miss Fish Fingers. My dear friend, Justin Gray, (a.k.a Fisher Price) hosts this fabulous drag show monthly at the Beaver. The Steady is also a favourite!
Thanks Tate! See you soon <3
TKVO is at 1450 Dundas st. W. All photos by May Truong