It’s no secret that men are taking more of an interest in fashion. According to the Business of Fashion, menswear has been outpacing women’s clothing in growth for five years running now. Anecdotally, any retail-savvy Torontonian could tell you that the variety for gentlemen of style has exploded over that time period, with new menswear boutiques popping up in all of the city’s chicest neighbourhoods and malls. But what has brought about this sudden popularity?
As with many issues, the answer is complex. The rise of social media and menswear bloggers has allowed for men to become aware of more styles, some of which may better reflect their aesthetic. Furthermore, in a society undergoing rapid socio-political demographic shifts, interest in fashion is becoming increasingly less gendered. Beyond even that, gender itself seems to matter less and less. Mainstream British department store Selfridges is going gender-neutral in March, and androgynous clothing is allowing men to further stretch the limits of how they can express themselves sartorially.
When asked why he thinks menswear has grown in popularity recently, Toronto designer Benji WZW tells us, “I think globally, people are becoming more interested in exploring their individual identity — and that includes men and their gender identity. Clothing is the closest thing to our bodies, and a very direct reflection of who we are as people. Men are also looking for more unique pieces from emerging brands to express the different facets of their personality.”
All of that to say it’s never been better to be a stylish guy. One of the best perks of being a menswear aficionado in this city though has to be Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*).
The eighth menswear-focused fashion week in the world, TOM* follows in the footsteps of historic style capitals Paris, Florence, and London. Launched in August 2014, the show has relocated from the Royal York Hotel to College Park on Yonge for its sophomore run. “We are thrilled to announce TOM* returning for a second season,” says executive director Jeff Rustia. “From our venue choice to the designer lineup, TOM* is always about being one step ahead, fashion forward, innovative, and unique. We aim to build on the incredible success of season one, showcasing industry-leading designers and presenting to the world the next generation of Canadian talent. TOM* is going to take the city of Toronto by storm.”
We chatted with Danyl Geneciran, editor-in-chief of TOM Magazine (the fashion week’s own publication) about what excites him about Toronto’s fashion scene: “It’s new and changeable. And with enough support, I think this is the best time to shape it and eventually grow to a more established industry.” His editor’s picks of the best talent includes: “Benji WZW is my favourite Canadian designer right now, but I look forward to Rani Kim and Andrew Coimbra’s shows.”
While we love to see established menswear designers like Christopher Bates and HD Homme hit the catwalk, what really excites us is the heavy emphasis on emerging designers. The forward-facing, fearless creativity of young Canadian designers like RANK by Rani Kim and Diodati by Luca Galardo has us feeling hopeful about the future of the country’s style direction. We lose so much talent to America and Europe, it is refreshing to see designers who are trained at Canadian fashion schools who actually want to stay in Canada. How about that, eh?
Who are you most excited to see at Toronto Men’s Fashion Week this season? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.