Does Torontos fashion community need to act more like a community?

Montreal has always been a few steps ahead of Toronto when it comes to fashion. Not only do the people.


Montreal has always been a few steps ahead of Toronto when it comes to fashion. Not only do the people appreciate (and wear) the industrys more creative offerings, but Quebec is Canadas only province to provide grants to designers.

But even their fashion scene has fallen on hard times. Montreal Fashion Week was axed a few seasons ago, and fast fashion is doing what it does best: destroying everything in its path.

In an effort to stop the bleeding and regain some footing on the world stage, the citys designers, manufacturers and retailers recently announced mmode, a new industrial cluster that aims to increase their bargaining power with the government and ability to promote themselves as a unit.

Our competition isnt really with fellow designers in the Canadian industry our competition is with the world. We cannot work alone any more. Its urgent that we come together, speak together and improve our industry as a group, designer and mmode member Philippe Dubuc tells me over the phone.

Some of Canadas largest fashion companies, like Aldo and La Vie en Rose, have leadership roles at mmode, and the provincial and municipal governments have already pledged $200,000 in startup funding.

As an independent designer, I want to be a part of decisions the government makes. There is some support and funding, but its never enough. Theres support when you start your business, but none after that. I want to be the Robin Hood of designers, laughs Dubuc.

Torontos fashion industry faces similar, if not worse, problems thanks to a lack of much-needed dollars. Yet theres been no real movement to unite under one banner.

The next closest thing is the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC), which struggled to find broad support amongst designers before all but disappearing after the sale of Toronto Fashion Week to IMG. The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA) hopes to take on a larger industry role beyond its glitzy annual gala, but the org is still very much in its infancy.

Several other local organizations, like the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI), Fashion Group International (FGI) and The Collective (actually an agency, not a non-profit), do excellent work individually, and yet its never enough. Torontos fashion industry needs something more, and perhaps that thing is one another.

Dubuc, for one, is certain that Canadian designers with big dreams cant go it alone: I want to become the next John Varvatos, but to do that I need the industry right behind me. Actually, beside me. Thats how it happens in Europe, and thats why theyre so -successful.

sabrinam@nowtoronto.com | @sabrinamaddeaux

Leave your opinion for the editor...We read everything!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *