Toronto Fashion Week is no more.
Organizers are pulling the plug on the semi-annual event, citing a lack of local support.
IMG Canada had operated Toronto Fashion Week in collaboration with IMG Fashion since 2012. They took the reins of the style showcase from the Fashion Design Council of Canada, a non-profit organization that had previously owned and produced Toronto Fashion Week for 13 years.
"As we continue to evolve our portfolio of fashion events around the world, we've made the decision to no longer produce Toronto Fashion Week,'' Catherine Bennett, senior vice-president and managing director of IMG Fashion Events & Properties, said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"We are constantly evaluating our fashion properties to make sure that they best meet the needs of designers and the industry — both locally and internationally — and we felt like the time had come to make a change in Toronto.
"We really felt that our Canadian fashion footprint was not generating the local commercial funding that we really required in order for us to continue producing the event to the highest standard that, really, the industry deserves and the designers in Toronto deserve,'' she added.
"We're sad to be moving on, but think it's the right decision and the right time to make it.''
Bennett said IMG will no longer be involved with the Mercedes-Benz Start Up program for emerging designers, which had a grand-prize package that included a $30,000 bursary and a fully produced runway show in Toronto for the winners.
Toronto Fashion Week was part of a sizable roster of other international fashion weeks owned or commercially represented by IMG, including those staged in New York, London, Berlin, Sydney and Tokyo.
Fashion week events are held in Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax. But the absence of Canada's biggest style showcase in Toronto leaves a sizable void on the style calendar, when some of the leading emerging and established labels would unveil collections to buyers, media and consumers.
The end of Toronto's marquee showcase comes three years after Montreal had its semi-annual event retooled. In 2013, organizers announced plans to merge the winter edition of Montreal Fashion Week with the city's summer Fashion and Design Festival.
The Toronto event had undergone a mini-makeover earlier this year following the end of a six-season deal with World MasterCard as the title sponsor. It was rebranded with a new website and social media handles prior to the unveiling of fall-winter collections in March.
At the time, organizers had said that while they hoped to find additional sponsor support, they didn't foresee any impact on staging the Toronto event.
Ultimately, the shortfall proved too much to overcome.
"Partnership and sponsorship plays a really important role in it, and I think in the market in Toronto we just weren't seeing the local support for the industry that we do see in some other markets,'' said Bennett.
She hopes local designers will look to participate in other IMG programs such as DHL Exported. It offers fully produced runway shows for two consecutive seasons, as well as covering the logistics costs of producing the collection and shipping the finished garments to the runway.
Bennett also expressed hope that another group will stage a fashion showcase in Toronto.
"There is so much great talent, and we hope that the local industry will ultimately decide to continue to put on an event and to continue to organize shows.''
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