In a switch from its traditional Monday start, Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week is kicking off early presentations of spring-summer 2014 collections with hometown designer Mikhael Kale showcasing his luxe leather looks and more at an off-site show on Friday.
Eight days later, Fashion Saturday is slated to make its debut. While Fashion Week presentations are typically geared toward buyers and media scouting out the latest trends for the warmer months ahead, the daylong event set for Oct. 26 is aimed at the public.
Fashion Saturday is to feature a designer pop-up market showcasing pieces created by Canadian talents, and access to the fashion environment featuring live DJs, hair and makeup installations and trials and refreshments, with ticket packages at $75 and $150 apiece.
Jarrad Clark, global creative director of IMG Fashion Events & Properties — whose organization spearheads Fashion Weeks in New York, Moscow, Berlin, Mumbai and Tokyo — said the consumer element has long been identified as a signature trait of the Toronto event, which they also oversee.
"There seems to be a genuine appetite up there with the Canadian consumers and Canadian designers. And just evolving that into now having its own day, to really experience the full cycle of what happens at the tents during the week of the event felt right," Clark said in a recent phone interview from New York.
"We're looking forward to seeing how they engage with not only the designers but the supporters of Fashion Week in that market."
A centrepiece of Fashion Saturday will be the spring 2014 runway trends presentation which will encompass outfits highlighting notable looks for the season ahead, Clark said.
"We've done these shows in various markets around the world, and they're really a nice piece of 'fashion-tainment' for everyone to get a snapshot of what took place during the week."
Members of the public can purchase tickets for select runway shows during the week which will once again be held under temporary tents erected at David Pecaut Square, steps from Toronto's thriving theatre district in the heart of downtown.
Fashion fans from near and far will be able to catch a glimpse of the new lines through dedicated social channels, with highlight reels from each show set to be updated daily on YouTube (www.youtube.com/user/WMCFashionWeek).
Clark said they continue to look at streaming capabilities in all of their markets, with some experiments conducted in Canada. It's something he said they'll be seeking to do more of in future, aware of the eagerness among style-savvy social media users to have instant access to fresh content and looks from the runway.
"They're much more engaged with what's going on via the online community now with our social media landscape, with our Twitter and our Instagrams," Clark said. "Eventually we'd love to see live broadcasts of our shows from the tents down at David Pecaut Square going out to a wider Canadian audience. That's definitely in the cards."
Sisters Chloe and Parris Gordon — who have rebranded their contemporary womenswear and accessories brand Chloe comme Parris — are set to open shows inside the tents on Monday under their new moniker, Beaufille. They'll be followed by a pair of established homegrown womenswear designers: Pink Tartan helmed by Kimberley Newport-Mimran, and David Dixon showcasing his eponymous collection.
While Montreal staged its Fashion Week in early September, designers and labels based in the style capital will be well represented in Toronto with Mackage, Melissa Nepton, Rudsak, Soia & Kyo and Travis Taddeo slated to present collections. On the affordable apparel front, Joe Fresh and new-to-Canada retailer Target are set to unveil their new lines.
Joining them on the runway with fresh presentations are other homegrown designers and labels, including Caitlin Power, Lacerda, Matthew Gallagher, Hilary MacMillan, Klaxon Howl and Tatsuaki.
Emerging designers from across Canada will be squaring off for a shot at style stardom — and a significant prize — in the Mercedes-Benz Start Up National Final. The winner will get the chance to stage a fully produced solo show next year in addition to an editorial feature in Fashion Magazine and continued mentoring from industry experts.
Finalists include Montreal-based labels Hip and Bone, Pedram Karimi and Cecile Raizonville of Matiere Noire; P.E.I. sibling duo Hilary and Louanna Murphy of Dreamboat Lucy; Edmonton-based designer Malorie Urbanovitch; Toronto's Hussein Dhalla of HD Homme and Jonathan Shimoni of lifestyles brand Faded; and Vancouver Island's Eliza Faulkner.
Toronto's semi-annual style showcase arrives far later on the already crowded fashion calendar than many of its high-profile predecessors, with similar events staged in New York, Paris, London and Milan which have long come and gone.
Clark said the subject of "fashion fatigue" is one that was raised last season, but he doesn't regard the placement of the Canadian event later in the year as a negative.
"This timing really allows local designers the chance to have their moment in time," he said.
"Now, if we were going to come up and be competitive with a lot of the major Fashion Weeks around the world, a lot of the major editors and a lot of the major buyers aren't in town when we're doing it — so it's not necessarily a worthwhile investment.
"The business of fashion has changed somewhat, so not all the designers wait to sell their collections for the time that they appear on the runway. Some of them are already dealing with retailers on an ongoing basis, with seasonal buyers and such, and it's a constant communication. So this really just provides the best opportunity for designers to get the best outcomes of what comes from the event."
Clark sees a different focus for the Toronto showcase: helping local designers establish foundations for their businesses with the grander goal of eventually broadening beyond their own borders.
"We're talking on an ongoing basis to the Canadian designers now. As their businesses start to grow and as they look at their business objectives from market to market, what opportunities exist for them? Which markets can they come participate with us in other Fashion Weeks, in other fashion platforms?
"We're just trying to understand better their goals and objectives beyond just (those) two moments in time in Toronto."