Inside Parkshow 2015, Edmonton’s annual scenester fashion show

parkshow yeg 2015
Photography by Sean Trayner

Turning a spectacular corporate failure into a spectacular win for independent designers, Alberta’s nonprofit fashion organization, PARK, hosted its 10th PARKSHOW at the abandoned Target space at West Edmonton Mall on Saturday night.

If you’ve forgotten about Canada’s dramatic break-up with the American retailer, here’s a refresher: In 2013, Target opened 133 locations across Canada (replacing Zellers) to much excitement. But like the heart-thumping thrill of many new relationships, expectations stumbled within the first six months and traffic dropped considerably; prices were higher than across the border and the product selection turned out to be a bunch of empty promises. Less than two years later, Target Canada announced that it was shutting down, a move that cost billions of dollars and left 17,000 people jobless.

For the last nine months, the 126,000 square foot space at West Edmonton Mall has been sitting empty, deserted, looming red walls also symbolic of the thousands of layoffs Albertans are currently experiencing due to the low price of oil.

So, it was time for a rebirth, even if it was a little bit cheeky, and it was a production unlike any other in Edmonton, Alberta, or, says PARK president Kara Chomistek, across the nation. “[This year’s PARKSHOW] featured Canada’s first large-scale circular runway,” she said, which centered on a leafy ceiling installation by local artist Cory Christopher.

Chomistek and her team of volunteers aspire to one day produce the kind of fashion shows seen at Chanel, “Because, why can’t we?”

The Ghost of Target and the presenting sponsor, Simons which has continually shown its support for the local industry since it opened at West Edmonton Mall in 2012), provided a blank canvas and endless possibilities for eight young designers from Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto to showcase their in-season collections: Barclay Clothing, Kazz Clothing, Lennard Taylor, LUXX Ready to Wear, Anneke Forbes, SUKA Clothing, S.P. BADU, and WORKHALL.

Three hundred and fifty guests arrived in style to show their support, sipping craft cocktails from Edmonton favourite North 53, listening to tracks by GirlsClub DJ’s, and shopping the local designer goods at the vendor booths before and after the show.

What’s more, West Edmonton Mall is hosting PARKSHOP, an indie Christmas market in the mall for local designers and artists from December 10th to 13th. In the darkness of hard economic times, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the hustling young fashion designer—and it isn’t just the holiday spirit.