North America’s second-largest fashion week collapsed after IMG Canada pulled the plug on its financial support.
“When IMG canceled Toronto Fashion Week, we knew that we just couldn’t stand by and let an important platform for women’s wear not happen,” said Jeff Rustia, executive director and founder of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, known as TOM, and its female counterpart.
According to Rustia, “Many key members of our fashion community approached TOM to consider launching a platform for women’s wear.”
In late August, TOM organizers revealed plans to introduce Toronto Women’s Fashion Week, which would run concurrently to the men’s event Rustia launched in August 2014. Other details were not released at that time but are now being unveiled.
“We strongly believe in providing Canadian women’s wear designers an international platform and in nurturing talent from coast to coast,” Rustia said.
To that end, the new Toronto Women’s Fashion Week will take place in February and August, when the actual buying season hits — not afterward as in previous years, Rustia explained.
The event will also feature showroom buyers’ days and lectures, as well as panel discussions.
“Everything that we are doing will revolve around showcasing Canadian talent from runway presentations, networking opportunities and meet-and-greets, to launching designer showrooms to help build businesses and clientele,” Rustia said. “We are delivering the right content at the right time to truly represent the current fashion landscape in Canada.”
That approach is good news to Toronto’s city councilors.
“When IMG first made its announcement to discontinue its financial support for Toronto Fashion Week it surprised a lot of people, including our councilors,” said Laurie Belzak, a sector development officer of fashion and design, economic development and culture, and business growth services for the City of Toronto.
According to Belzak, the city created its fashion week in 1992 as a supporting sponsor and then worked with organizers over the years as the event evolved.
IMG’s decision to stop its support concerned city councilors, who have since requested a report be filed in spring 2017 on best practices and next steps pertaining to the matter, she explained.
“This evolution that is now happening may bring changes. But I have been impressed by TOM’s ability to bring a number of key players together to grow this event in a short time,” she said.
That sentiment is shared by Susan Langdon, the executive director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator.
“Jeff is great at generating buzz. We need this, particularly if we want to attract more international attention to Canada’s design talent,” said Langdon, who has been a TOM adviser since its inception.