toronto fashion week
VANDAL at TFW (Image: Instagram/@TFW)
VANDAL at TFW (Image: Instagram/@TFW)

After 13 years of hard work and dedication, Toronto fashion week is coming to an end. Vv Magazine’s Amanda Phuong reflects on fashion weeks’ past and speaks with 10 industry professionals to get their thoughts on the topic. 

The year I attended my first fashion week, was the year I fell in love with my job. The semi-annual event, held at David Pecaut Square, was like nothing I had ever seen before. Imagine attendees in extravagant outfits, clinking champagne glasses while cameras flashed, a slew of well-thought out runway shows and a private industry area catered by the Ritz-Carlton, with unlimited food and drinks.

In years to come, big sponsors like L’Oreal and World MasterCard would pull funding. As budgets started shrinking, so did the media cadre that was supposed to be there to provide designers with exposure. Toronto Fashion Week became less about the talent it was meant to showcase and more about who was attending and what they were wearing. Often, the crowd outside the tents waiting to be photographed was larger than the crowd inside watching the actual runway shows.

Fast forward to present day and IMG has pulled the plug on Toronto Fashion Week. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Catherine Bennett, the senior vice-president and managing director of IMG Fashion Events & Properties, stated that the event wasn’t generating enough commercial funding to produce the event to the highest standard, something the industry and designers deserved. But was pulling the plug on Canada’s largest fashion week the right move? How will the hundreds of individuals involved, including the designers, the models, the media and the teams behind it all, be affected? Some say the end was inevitable, while others are hopeful for something bigger to come.

We spoke to 10 industry professionals to get their opinion on the end of Toronto Fashion Week. Here’s what they had to say:

Fashion weeks around the world are a dying breed. With that said, I’m not sad or surprised to see ours come to an end. Toronto Fashion Week, though great in concept, has never lived up to its moniker for as long as I’ve been attending. As such, rather then focusing on what we’ve “lost”, I strongly feel as a city we have a unique opportunity to realize and reinvent the institution into what our industry truly needs. I personally think it couldn’t have happened at a better time, at a time when this city is bursting with so much creativity and talent. I’m certain we’ll come back with something that will truly be worthy of the world stage.” – Sharad Mohan, marketing professional and stylist.  

I think at first glance, it is very telling of the overall state of fashion in Toronto – it’s been struggling to gain any traction with anyone outside of the immediate fashion industry. And it’s never a good sign that the staple fashion week in Canada has to shut down. However, in the end, I believe the most creative forces are made from tough times and that Toronto Fashion will come out stronger.” – Mauricio Calero, photographer. 

toronto fashion week
Outside the Tents at TFW (Image: Instagram/@mauriciojcalero)

It’s disappointing that Toronto Fashion Week has been cancelled. It was our largest platform to showcase talented designers and have fashion enthusiasts congregate. Having said that, it’s not all doom & gloom, perhaps it presents the space to reinvent and customize the event into something that will work even better to serve the needs of the Canadian fashion industry. Smaller venues, shorter week, high production.” – Afiya Francisco, television and fashion personality.

I’m disappointed that TFW has been cancelled. TFW really helped me raise my brand profile in Canada and beyond. I’d sincerely like to thank everyone at TFW, FDCC, and IMG for their support over the years.” – Christopher Bates, designer. 

Christopher Bates backstage at WMCFW FW14 (Image: Facebook/Christopher Bates)
Christopher Bates backstage at WMCFW FW14 (Image: Facebook/Christopher Bates)

The exit of Toronto Fashion Week is truly shocking, not only for myself but my peers in the industry. This is a platform for so many creative designers to showcase their works and who knows what will happen now. I can only hope that we as a fashion community can come back bigger and better from this.” – Vedika Solecki, public relations specialist.

It’s such a shame that IMG Canada pulled fashion week. Out of all the fashion weeks in Canada, Toronto Fashion Week was the most prominent and successful. It was the leader of the pack here in Canada and to see it go down like this is very saddening. What people need to realize is that this has a real domino effect where one, we now don’t have a platform to showcase Canadian talent, two, we don’t have a facility where all fashion journalists, influencers, bloggers, designers, stylists, and enthusiasts can all be under one roof to connect and three, IMG Canada won’t be supporting the Mercedes-Benz Start Up program, so this is a loss for the emerging designers. I’m very surprised by the decision, especially when globally, I think Canada has been creating more fashion buzz. From an old article that I read, I know that designers throw down a couple of 10k to have the shows. It’s not like IMG Canada let the designers have their shows for free. They make money off of all the brand activations within the tent so it’s really too bad that IMG Canada could not create the proper backbone. It makes me wonder what kind of profit margin they were hoping to make… If they weren’t meeting their financial goals from ticket sales, etc. I wish they would have condensed the shows down to a more manageable scale and found a solution to make more profit instead of completely shutting it down. It’s really disappointing for the fashion community… sad day.” – Joanne Jin, stylist. 

toronto fashion week
Sid Neigum models pose backstage at TFW (Image: Instagram/@Stylist_Jo)

The fact that Toronto Fashion Week has ended is a sad moment for the industry in the country, especially at a time when Canada has become a major world influence.” – Karine Delage, public relations specialist.

The cancellation of Toronto Fashion Week is both disappointing and a wake-up call. It is personally disappointing in the sense that the event was where I launched my career as a blogger. It’s also disappointing that brands and companies couldn’t see being a sponsor of the event important as an investment or something to help the arts industry grow. It’s also a wake-up call for everyone in the creative industry to actually come out and support our local artists and designers, and create dialogue on why our community needs the support of brands, business, and consumers.” – Syed Saud Sohail, blogger. 

toronto fashion week
Syed Saud Sohail outside the tents at TFW (Image: Instagram/@ThePrepGuy)

To be honest, I’m pretty okay with this. Toronto designers badly need recognition and a buying public that’s willing to pay up, but TFW itself didn’t really do that much to get them there. It basically amounted to an industry tradeshow, with a lot of big, bombastic sponsorship everywhere, and then you’d get into the runway, and 80% of the shows would be half-empty. (The defeated look on at least one designer’s face when they came out for their bow to see all those empty seats…oof). Toronto (and the rest of Canada) has yet to properly give its attention and cash to the design talent in its midst – blame our perpetual inferiority complex, I guess. I don’t know what the better way is to get people to take notice, but maybe now that this is gone, there will be room for some incredible new thing to take its place – run by folks with a real, vested interest in seeing those designers succeed.” – Natalia Manzocco, writer.

From a work perspective, I’m sad to see Toronto Fashion Week go. Modeling in Toronto is a tough industry to break into. For new models, it provided an opportunity to gain exposure in the fashion world, giving them experience and a chance to grow their network, in turn, helping secure jobs and clients. I met a lot of great designers and people through fashion week and I hope bigger opportunities will come of this.” – Mackenzie Jackson, model.

toronto fashion week
Mackenzie Jackson walks a Bustle show at TFW (Image: Instagram/@macjackson890)

RELATED LINK: World MasterCard Fashion Week SS15

What are your thoughts on Toronto Fashion Week coming to an end? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us at @ViewTheVibe