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Men, Live up to Your Fashion Potential

10/28/2013 05:16 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Written by Christopher Turner for AmongMen.com

Toronto's fashion week is growing. It's time for the boys to recognize their sartorial potential.

World MasterCard Fashion Week marked its 29th official season last week. The biggest takeaway after Toronto's five-day celebration of fashion wrapped up on Friday night? Canada has a very strong, but often forgotten menswear presence.

A work in progress

Canada's most prominent fashion week has come a long way since 2000 when it was known simply as Toronto Fashion Week. Formerly run by the Fashion Design Council of Canada, two years ago the event was taken on by IMG Fashion Worldwide, the same organization responsible for the operation of New York City's high-profile fashion week, among others.

Fashion watchers worried that Toronto and its designers would be lost in the mix, but the fashion powerhouse insisted that the goal of their involvement was (and still is) to create an event that met the needs and business goals of all of Toronto's fashion and retail industry.

"We continue to create a unified calendar that makes it easier for the media, buyers and guests to have a more productive week," says Jarrad Clark, IMG's director of global production. "While it is still a work in progress, we now have an event with numerous emerging designers, industry panels, off-site events, collaborations such as those with The Collections and the Toronto Fashion Incubator, and of course everyone's favorite established brands and retailers."

Let's hear it for the boys

This season was a game-changer... especially for the men. Thirty-eight designers showed throughout the week with half of them showing menswear. According to Clark, this season Toronto has one of the stronger showings of men's collections.

"We love the diversity that this creates on our runway, and for the men's brands it makes perfect sense to be able to capitalize off of the media attention that is currently on Toronto."

A perfect example of menswear making its presence known? At the third annual Mercedes-Benz StartUp, a national competition to discover and mentor up-and-coming Canadian fashion designers, four of the competing eight designers showed men's (and unisex) designs. Strong showings at the competition from Faded Lifestyle, HD Homme, Hip and Bone and Pedram Karimi were just the beginning of what would soon become a clear trend.

Menswear designers in Canada have just as much potential to thrive as womenswear designers. Perhaps more.

In the tents, seasoned labels like Joe Fresh, Bustle, Mackage, Soia & Kyo and Rudsak offered accessible, buttoned-down men's looks that will shape the menswear scene next spring. While newer menswear designers like Travis Taddeo, Triarchy, Christopher Bates, Klaxon Howl and Thomas Balint impressed the crowds of journalists and buyers with fresh looks, some which challenged the monotonous shirt and tie (or boring jeans and tee) mentality of conventional Canadian menswear.

"Menswear, as everyone knows is becoming a hotter and hotter commodity around the world," said Toronto-based designer Christopher Bates whose collection was inspired by the nautical lifestyle of the Riviera. "As typical with Canada it can take us a little bit longer to catch up with the trends, but Toronto is becoming a more fashionable market."

Montreal-based designer Travis Taddeo, whose eponymous line focused on boxier cuts accessible for men or women, agrees with the peaked interest. "We're getting there. I like to think that we are beginning to push the boundaries and are getting guys in the right cuts."

The future is ours

What does the shift in interest from the general public and the increased presence of menswear at World MasterCard Fashion Week mean? Well, while soft shades and utilitarian details ruled the runway and will set the tone for Canada's menswear scene next spring, fashion watchers are hopefully left contemplating a much bigger trend. As Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week gets more ambitions and bigger, the designers dressing the boys will deserve more recognition for helping increase Canada's place in the international fashion arena.

We'll see what happens next season.

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