Big Changes Ahead for Toronto Fashion Week

Hannah Yakobi is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist. Throughout her career, she has written for the National Post, OK! Magazine, the Ottawa Citizen, Canwest newspaper network and dozens of publications around the world. Currently, she is the Editor-in-Chief of FAJO Magazine, a Canadian publication with staff in Canada, U.S. and U.K.

The fashion industry in Canada is changing.

Last week, we saw the official announcement that Toronto Fashion Week, which has been owned and operated by the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC) since 1999, is switching hands and will be taken over by IMG Canada (part of the worldwide giant IMG).

On the day of the announcement, I interviewed some of our country’s top industry individuals and it was interesting to see what they thought about this big development. Subsequently, I read a lot of other articles on this topic and it was great to learn the variety of reactions to this news. Overall, it seemed people were hopeful and very positive. However, a few were highly critical and negative.

As a journalist, I like to assess all perspectives and sides before making my own decision about something. But do you know what my first reaction was when I read this media announcement? Surprise, shock and excitement. I’ve heard many people say that this change was going to happen, but I didn’t think it would happen two and half months before Toronto Fashion Week and also less than a month from New York Fashion Week (which is also operated by IMG). It seems the new organizers have had a lot on their plate and it will be a very busy season for them.

So what are my personal thoughts on this subject? I think that this is a great development and our industry will greatly benefit from it. Robin Kay (founder of TFW) has built and advanced the fashion week immensely over the last 14 years. In fact, it has become the second largest fashion week in North America and that is something Kay and her team can truly be proud of. As with any major event of this magnitude, there will always be supporters and critics alike. I’ve had my fair share of remarkable experiences at TFW but I have also had some quite negative ones. It is a huge event after all, so expecting everything to be perfect would be foolish. There are also much fewer resources in our country for anything fashion or arts-related (you may recall this column I wrote recently), so the fact that we have such a successful fashion week is, in itself, a great achievement. And having been to many fashion weeks around the world and seen the shows of the likes of Dior, Givenchy and Christian Lacroix, I can still say that TFW remains my favourite – and that is because it is done at home, for Canadians.

Many of my friends are fashion designers who have taken part in TFW before and I love seeing their work on the runway. I hope that this new change in the organization’s structure will bring more resources to the event and also build on its strengths further. Some people have voiced their concern that we may lose our “Canadianism” if a major organization like IMG takes over. But I think that we live in the world of globalization, and most of the renowned events in our era are truly international in their scope.

As the owner of a fashion magazine that has a mandate to support Canadian talent at home and abroad, I strongly believe that, ultimately, the preference at the fashion week must be given to Canadian talent first and foremost. At the same time, however, I am certain that bringing designers from abroad is also important, as it will add a great international flavour.

On that note, I join the rest of the industry in our anticipation of what we will see at the next season of the Toronto Fashion Week that kicks off on October 22, 2012.

Photo by Kareen Mallon, FAJO Magazine