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IMG buys Toronto Fashion Week

- August 9th, 2012

Early this morning Canadian fashion icon Jeanne Beker scooped FDCC and fashion week PR by announcing on Twitter that World MasterCard Fashion Week (aka Toronto Fashion Week) has been sold to IMG Canada and that Robin Kay was stepping down as president of the FDCC.

Robin Kay

Robin Kay, president of the Fashion Design Council of Canada, in front of a poster that shows World Mastercard Fashion Week’s new logo in January 2012. (Kate Kennedy/QMI AGENCY)

“In business, timing is everything, and I am confident that the time is right for IMG to take World MasterCard Fashion Week to the next level,” said Kay in a press release.

IMG Canada will now produce the week in conjunction with IMG Fashion, which generates impressive parades in London, Berlin, Milan, and others. Perhaps most notable week IMG Fashion puts on is Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Interestingly, the auto company sponsored a design competition in Toronto that ran over the past two seasons and will continue in the fall.

What will sale of fashion week mean for Canada? The possibility of more press, for starters. Could there be incentives for industry and media to attend both New York and Toronto weeks? Could weeks be scheduled successively? Synergy can no doubt be a watchword for the giant sports and media company.

The change could also prompt reform when it comes to Toronto’s scheduling. Right now there’s one main runway and a smaller studio – which has become the hip place to show – but no shows overlap. This is great for journalists in a way, because they can theoretically see every show. In truth, however, they aren’t always inclined or able to leave the office in time for a 2 p.m. show.

In the earlier years of fashion week, when there were fewer designers and labels with the funds and capability to hold shows, a linear schedule made sense.

For the past few years, however, there’s been so much talent interested in showcasing their work – but not necessarily interested in partnering with the FDCC – that it’s created a spillover called “rogue fashion week,” which has itself spilled over into the weeks before and after fashion week proper.

A look from the Joe Fresh fall/winter 2012-2013 collection during World Mastercard Toronto Fashion Week, March 14, 2012.  (Jack Boland/QMI Agency)

A look from the Joe Fresh fall/winter 2012-2013 collection during World Mastercard Toronto Fashion Week, March 14, 2012. (Jack Boland/QMI Agency)

 

Consecutive shows mean there are only a handful of peak time slots – 8 p.m. and onwards – when industry, buyers, media, even celebrities – are much more likely to attend. And who gets them? Until today that decision has been up to the FDCC.

While no doubt several factors go into their decision (like which brands are most established and sell the most merchandise), one that’s rumoured to have soured designers in the past are the friendly connections between certain labels and the FDCC. There’s no doubt Joe Fresh – which gets top billing each season -  is an admirable growing brand, but the fact that creative director Joe Mimran is the chairman of the FDCC has not gone unnoticed by other talent.

If IMG introduced simultaneous showings, perhaps it could entice some “rogue” designers back into the fold. By the same token, however, concurrent showings could mean smaller labels may get less coverage, for the simple fact that many journalists (and I bet those in the fashion industry) are juggling one than one job right now.

Does this mean Canadians may rely more on blogger content for news on burgeoning labels? It’s been a slow build toward that for the past several seasons, and frankly, many of them are quite talented and well-informed. More shows could also mean more opportunities for freelancer writers – always a good thing.

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More importantly, at least from a designer’s perspective, a U.S.-based leader could mean more American and international buyers in the front row to view – and hopefully order – our tremendously talented Canadian design.

One hang-up fashion lovers may have over the switch is the fact our week will no longer be run by a Canadian non-profit, but quite the opposite: A giant New York-based company.

Will they make room for up-and-coming Canadian designers? Or is there a chance we’ll get New York cast-offs? Will themes like “Canada Cool” and “Canadian Catwalk” appear again, or will our focus become more international? There’s a lot of questions surrounding the switch which we’re hoping will be answered in October with the spring collections.

As the FDCC president, Kay has grown the once-fledgling Toronto Fashion Week to North America’s second largest, showcasing world-class Canadian talent for labels like Pink Tartan, Bustle, David Dixon, and Arthur Mendonça.

“I have no plans to disappear and I will remain committed to helping and nurturing Canadian designers shine on the catwalk,” said Kay. As president of the FDCC, Kay oversaw 13 years and 26 seasons of Canadian design. Many congratulations to her the FDCC for their years of hard work.

Follow me on Twitter: @KaterKen

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