Why you shouldn’t cry over the end of Toronto Fashion Week

The news that IMG has pulled the plug on Toronto Fashion Week might be shocking. But it shouldn’t be upsetting.

Canadian designers, and the local Toronto industry more specifically, have certainly been in crisis mode before.

The once popular Festival of Canadian Fashion, which launched in 1985 and won a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for largest fashion show (Alfred Sung, 8,000 guests), fell apart after the City of Toronto purchased it in 1989. Then something called the Toronto Ready-to-wear Collections was born, with low key shows over a couple of days in hotel ballrooms. That limped along until Fashion Design Council of Canada president Robin Kay started building tents and ramping up sponsorships.

Most recently, IMG purchased Toronto Fashion Week in 2012, commercializing the event even further. But in a world of belt-tightening pretty much everywhere, a title sponsor proved tough to secure for the shows last March. This season, the decision was made to kill the event.

So Toronto might not have an official fashion week. But should we really be shedding tears? There were complaints that TFW was too long and that a shorter tighter “week” could actually result in a more compelling event. There were also questions about whether what’s shown at the tents is a true reflection of the pulse around the country (the recent international success of brands like Vejas and Beaufille highlights this further).

A group known as The Collections led by Dwayne Kennedy, Mel Ashcroft and Brian A. Richards has built a reputation for showing high quality work by respected designers in a fun, but professional setting. Sounds like a great starting point for a new fashion week that could grow, and hopefully, flourish. Finally.