toronto fashion week
Image: Facebook/Toronto Fashion Week

So, how many Canadian fashion designers do you know? How many items do you buy are made by a Canadian? Do you seek Canadian designers? These age old questions are still being asked and answered. But what we have seen in the past few years is a shift.

The world wearing more Canada is becoming a thing. And Canadians right here at home are taking notice and buying as well.

Over the years, there have been various mechanism to market works from Canadian designers, with the most obvious being fashion shows.

Coming up this week in Toronto are two offerings that are gaining attention. Presented over the same days, Toronto Fashion Week (TFW) and RE\SET™ 002 (produced by THE COLLECTIONS™) will aim to create impactful platforms for the designers showing while inspiring the public to celebrate the world of fashion.

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Will they attract different audiences? Does Toronto have a deep enough fashion appetite to support two happenings at the same time?

The general hope is that they inspire a groundswell of activity and attention that will lead to vibrancy for both. And most importantly, continuing to put Canadian fashion on the map for the world and Canadians to take notice.

We had the opportunity to hear from the principals from both. What follows are their thoughts and aspirations for what this week will bring.

First up was Suzanne Cohon, Fashion, Arts and Culture Ambassador for TFW.

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The event has been titled, Toronto Fashion Week® Reimagined. What are some things you wanted to do differently?

SC: Introducing the event on a global scale, including curating international programming together with top Canadian fashion talent.

Various international fashion personalities are part of this. Why that decision?

SC: Because fashion is a global conversation and in fashion weeks across the globe, designers beyond the host location show and we wanted to bring that to Toronto Fashion Week in a new and inventive way. 

There will be fashion inspired art and film programming too. Tell us more.

SC: We will debut for the first time in North America, a world class art and fashion exhibition around surrealist master Salvador Dali’s transcendent influence on the world of fashion. It will showcase Dalí’s iconic sculptures together, as well as select couture pieces that have been influenced by his work. We are also thrilled to screen the documentary Franca: Chaos and Creation as it seeks to show how individuals can have such a profound influence and impact that fashion industry in a positive way as the late Franca Sozzani did in Italy.

There is a curated group of Canadian designers showing. What do they all have in common?

SC: They are some of the best and brightest talent in the country.

What are three reasons why fashion fans of all walks should attend?

SC: Fans should attend as this is a fun, engaging and fresh event and something Toronto has never seen.

Designer Sid Neigum’s VR show (Image: Tony Cicero Photography)

We then had the opportunity to hear from Mel Ashcroft, Marketing Director and Co-founder, THE COLLECTIONS™, and Dwayne Kennedy, Fashion Director and Co-founder of THE COLLECTIONS™.

How does the RE\SET™ 002 theme inspire the designers you chose to work with?

MA: The theme is championing the pioneering fashion design talent in Canada. Over two days, we will feature 26 brands with diverse representation from coast-to-coast; Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and international Canadian talent in Los Angeles and Milan.

The designers participating are open to our ideas and excited about unique approaches aimed at disrupting traditional formats. RE\SET™ promises to deliver an innovative fashion series alongside sales opportunities for a leading group of talent.

Sid Neigum is presenting their show via virtual reality (VR). First ever we here in Canada? Why this direction?

DK: We support our clients’ individual objectives while focusing on innovation and expanding the reach of RE\SET™ to benefit the designers. With Sid Neigum’s first-ever virtual reality (VR) presentation, our guests will be transported to another location through Samsung VR Gear to unveil his Spring/Summer 2018 collection, and he will present his Fall/Winter 2017 collection, available on Net-A-Porter.

What is your wish for these shows? For the designers? Consumers?

As a fashion production agency, our focus is on supporting our clients, year-round. RE\SET™ was created to provide a platform to the roster of talent we work with and offer brand partnership opportunities through fashion initiatives and activations.

Having two fashion show series at the same time. Is this the best idea moving forward?

It’s the right time for Toronto to have multiple platforms and different opportunities for designers to choose from. These opportunities exist in other markets like New York and London, so why not Toronto? Toronto’s fashion scene is undergoing an evolution, and we should embrace the change and celebrate our accomplishments together as an industry.

What is next for The Collections?

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RE\SET™ 003.

Designer Pedram Karimi at RE\SET 002 (Image: Tony Cicero Photography)

So, when the lights dim, and those last shows come to an end, what will success look like? Hopefully, both of these offerings will see audiences come out in high numbers, media attention from around the world, and discoveries of designers. Ultimately, it’s about Canadians and the world believing that the fashion world here at home is vibrant, relevant and exciting. “Canada is a fashion destination,” is a sentence more and more people will say with confidence. And bluntly, all of these sentiments need to lead to more and more sales of Canadian designers.

It’s clear that the producers of both of these offerings are putting forth immense effort to create unique memorable experiences and for that, they should be applauded. We need to celebrate and support these types of efforts. This is not easy stuff. Sure, there will be ways to improve in future years, and the hope is that they will be open to suggestions. But for now, it’s time for everyone to do all they can to shine a light on Canadian fashion through these exciting happenings through positive narratives, showing up, and buying Canadian often and always.

TFW runs September 5th to 7th. The full schedule is here.

RE\SET™ 002 runs September 5th to 6th. The full schedule is here.

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How do you think the two events will affect Canada’s fashion scene? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe