The Canadian fashion industry sounded a chorus of “Noooooooo!”s yesterday when it was announced that Toronto Fashion Week was no more. It’s rumoured that event sponsor IMG yanked funding due to a lack of additional corporate pennies, leaving the country’s biggest city sans a large-scale sartorial celebration for the first time in almost two decades. We polled industry members closest to the action for their hot take on what went wrong—and the kind of fashion week we really need.
Evan Biddell, designer
“Fashion Week was a bit sterile. The corporate sponsorships got out of hand at times, taking away from the real draw: the clothes. People showing up to the event were generally dressed like they shop at the mall. More attitude than necessary coming from wannabe socialites. Bloggers thinking they’re The Man Repeller and street photographers thinking they’re Bill Cunningham. Girls wearing borrowed Canadian designer dresses and guys wearing way too much makeup. Canadians don’t buy Canadian-made clothing, especially not once you hit designer prices. Canadians would rather have Gucci on their back if they are gonna spend the money. Also, being six months ‘ahead’ doesn’t work. The internet exists now and fashion weeks haven’t caught up. It’s really stupid. I’m showing a fall collection in October because I know people want to buy what they are seeing on the spot, not six months later. Someone is going to step up. It’s going to start small, and, hopefully, doesn’t outgrow itself again. Canadian fashion is a small industry and our fashion week should reflect that.”
Nicholas Mellamphy, former Vice-President and Buying Director at The Room and Personal Shopping at Hudson’s Bay
“I always felt like I was going to a nightclub: it never felt serious, it never felt like a place of or for business. It became a chore to attend rather than a celebration of our talent. I wasn’t surprised about the cancellation, but I’m disappointed that IMG would turn away from this challenge after such a short time in control. I have found that the last few seasons of Toronto Fashion Week have been floundering, presenting weeks that lacked focus and energy, and becoming increasingly logistically ineffective. There were challenges in programming a consistently strong full week, maintaining and encouraging a roster of top-level talent, and a lack of ability to develop a buyers market and attract the attendance of international buyers, plus—let’s face it—logistically navigating that tent was a nightmare. It wasn’t fun anymore! The week needs to to be shortened to two to three days, and engage more retailers and become more retail-friendly—less social. People tend to forget that business has to be done to build and sustain a strong industry.