Seven finalists have been named in the Mercedes-Benz Start Up program. Now in its third year, the initiative seeks to offer a nationwide platform to discover and support up-and-coming design talents who've been in business less than five years.
A cross-Canada search for emerging designers consisted of stops in Calgary, Winnipeg, Laval, Que., and Kitchener, Ont., with semi-final runway shows held in each of the four cities.
The current contingent of finalists includes a trio of designers who made it to the runway finale last year: P.E.I. sibling duo Hilary and Louanna Murphy of Dreamboat Lucy and Edmonton-based designer Malorie Urbanovitch.
Cecile Raizonville of Montreal-based label Matiere Noire, Iranian-born, Montreal-based Pedram Karimi, Eliza Faulkner of Vancouver Island, Toronto's Hussein Dhalla of HD Homme and Jonathan Shimoni of Toronto-based lifestyles brand Faded round out the list of contenders.
Judges will select one additional designer at the end of the month for a wild card spot to complete the group of eight finalists who will show their collections at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week this fall.
In the coming months, the finalists will receive mentoring from industry professionals as they get ready to showcase their spring-summer 2014 collections at the finale group runway show set to take place during Fashion Week in October.
The winning label will return to the Toronto runway next March to stage their own fully produced solo show, in addition to landing an editorial feature in Fashion Magazine and receiving continued mentoring from industry experts.
The winning labels from the two previous Mercedes-Benz Start Up contests are both Montreal-based.
In 2011, married design duo Danielle Martin and Pao Lim of Martin Lim took home top honours in the inaugural competition showcasing a series of fluid and feminine colour-blocked creations.
Duy Nguyen of ready-to-wear label DUY landed the top prize last year with a richly hued collection inspired by the 1980s. He returned to the Toronto runway in March to present his Canadian winter-inspired fall line.