The MAGIC marketplace spotlighted a new region abroad during its four-day run in Las Vegas, as UBM Fashion partnered with Mmode, the Montréal Metropolitan Fashion Cluster, bringing more than 60 Montréal fashion industry companies and brands to the trade show giant’s largest platform in North America.
The February show, which wrapped on Wednesday, marked the first time that UBM and the three-year-old organization have partnered in order to showcase Canada’s top fashion city, which is also one of the three North American leaders in clothing manufacturing, alongside Los Angeles and New York.
“We work with a lot of different international groups to try to help them achieve their goals. There are groups all over the world that are trying to help their brands reach the U.S. market, and Montreal is actually the number-three fashion center of North America after New York and L.A. It’s always had a strong presence at MAGIC,” said Mike Alic, managing director of UBM Fashion.
Explaining how the partnership came about, Tom Nastos, president of UBM Fashion, said, “In October, we went up there and had a big meeting with a bunch of the players in the Montreal fashion industry and said, ‘OK, what can we do to take what is already good, and make it even better and higher profile?’ We’ve had a significant increase in the number of Montreal-based brands exhibiting at the show.”
That manifested in the Montréal Style Gallery, a 1,200-square-foot display situated on the Project show floor at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, which highlighted the city’s fashion, while Québec-based brands spanning women’s wear, men’s wear, footwear, furs, outerwear, denim, activewear, children’s and accessories were sprinkled throughout the more than 4,000 exhibitors at the shows. Noteworthy names included AJG Apparel, Alfred Cloutier, Alphi Apparel, Au Noir, FDJ French Dressing, Gorski Group, Lolë, Mitchie’s Matchings, Pajar, Projek Raw, Raffinalla, U Group and Yoga Jeans.
“Our goal in being here is to work in partnership with firms that normally exhibit here, and help them elevate the brand of Montreal as a fashion center, and show not only that Montreal companies are great producers and sellers to America, but also big customers — Canadians are about 30 percent of the buyers here — so the trade is kind of natural in our cultures,” said Leonard Gorski, president and chief executive officer of luxury outerwear and fur brand Gorski Group and a board member of Mmode.
Gorski and Eric Wazana, president of Yoga Jeans, the largest denim manufacturer in Canada, were coleading the Montréal fashion industry mission, “MontréalStyle,” to the MAGIC marketplace, and even unveiled a strategic partnership there to codesign and produce a collection of trendy fur-trimmed denim jackets for fall 2018. Gorski Group is also expanding its cross-border strategic collaboration with its many New York-based suppliers.
The fashion industry in Québec generates annual sales of eight billion Canadian dollars, or $6.38 billion, in manufactured goods and in wholesaler-distributor sales. With more than 1,850 players, including manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and creators, it is a strategic pillar of the region’s economy, generating more than 83,000 jobs. Forty-eight percent of the apparel-related jobs in Canada are in Québec.
Mmode is unique in that it combines private companies as well as those in the public sector — including the Montréal Metropolitan Community, the Government of Québec and the Government of Canada — in acting as the fashion ecosystem’s main platform for exchange and collaboration.
“It’s a small group but it’s 200 companies that were originally competitors, really, but that are working together in Quebec to make sure that we are stronger internationally, more competitive. And that we are prosperous, and we have an industry in 10, 20 years,” said Debbie Zakaib, executive director of Mmode. “It’s sharing good business practices, making sure that the start-ups, the small companies have the information, the accompaniment, the sharing of the bigger companies that have experience, like Gorski or Yoga Jeans. For them it’s very precious just to talk to a buyer.”
Beyond apparel, Mmode’s mandate is to create business and innovation synergies across industries and it also has partnerships with 15 organizations outside of the fashion industry, such as Tourism Montreal; Richter, a major accounting firm, and Montreal International, a company involved in attracting investment in Québec.
Involved in and observing every step of the way was Dominique Anglade, Québec deputy premier and minister of the economy, science and innovation, as well as the minister responsible for digital strategy.
“The economy of Québec is going really well, but one of the reasons that we distinguish ourselves, is our ability to work hand-in-hand private and public sectors,” the official said. “I was here two weeks ago for the Consumer Electronics Show, because it’s key that we get all the companies working together and having a real impact together abroad. So this is exactly the model that we’re using, where we make sure that we support key clusters, like Mmode.”