Why young designers show at Toronto Fashion Week
Sure, it has the biggest tents in town, but how much does Toronto Fashion Week have to offer its designers, particularly the newbies? I spoke to some of this season's brightest young things about the experience, and if in the end, it's all worth it. Meet Adrian Wu, Sid Neigum, and the sisters behind Chloe Comme Parris.
Also check out photo slideshows of these designers' Fall 2012 collections on the blogTO Facebook Page:
What do you hope to achieve by participating in Fashion Week?
Adrian Wu: "My goal has always been to work for Dior. I went into this to develop my dream, and maybe one day I can do that. Just a job there, that's all I want-- I don't want to be a famous designer."
Sid Neigum: "It all really comes down to making enough money to survive as a business, that's number one. Recognition, I think, is number two. It's nice, but it's secondary to running the company."
Chloe Gordon: ""To get our stuff out there, to get girls wearing it, and having more options in the stores."
Why do you choose to show at the official Toronto Fashion Week rather than independently?
Adrian Wu: "Because I understand the idea that there's a system in society that's already been set up, and it's the same thing with the Canadian fashion industry. I understand that you have to play the game of life. Robin Kay's great; I value that woman because she's been able to do what she's done. You know, at least she did it rather than people complaining... how about they come up with a solution? I'm all about coming up with solutions, not problems."
Sid Neigum: "To be frank, I think the shows on site get a lot more press because you're part of a larger group of designers. I know a lot of magazines hire people to cover for the day, and you get grouped in with the other designers, which is good. It's also easier organization-wise, and cheaper too."
Chloe Gordon: "We've got a great response with Toronto Fashion Week and it's been a great event to be a part of. It's nice for media and for spectators to have it all in one place instead of running around all over town."
Parris Gordon: "And our team, The Fashion Collective, we work very closely with them and they help us with our shows. I don't think we could do it without them, so it's very important that we have a strong team where we're showing, and that means here."
As young designers, do you find it difficult to finance your participation at Fashion Week?
Adrian Wu: "I will say it's difficult; there's a reason there's so few designers that can do it. I'm fortunate to do what I do. I'm self-funded, I've been lucky."
Sid Neigum: "Yes, definitely. It would be optimal to have more sponsorship dollars. I mean, obviously, the sponsors are paying for the entire setup right now, but there's still a lot of costs involved with models, paying for the time slot, and the collection itself is the biggest cost of all.
Chloe Gordon: "For where it gets us, I think it equals out. I don't think we'd have gotten the response or press we have if we weren't a part of it, so it really evens out."
Other than the press coverage, do you see any business benefits from showing at Fashion Week?
Adrian Wu: "Of course, that's one of the major criticisms, but business is what you should be concerned about."
Sid Neigum: "At first I didn't think so, but now it's been my third season and buyers are starting to respond. Before they didn't care, and now I'm meeting with Holt Renfrew tomorrow and Rac Boutique later this week. I don't know if it's being part of Fashion Week, or if the collections have just been getting better... probably a combination of both."
Parris Gordon: "In terms of sales, our current retailers come, but we don't usually get new sales from the event-- just great press."
At the end of the day, is participating in Fashion Week worth it?
Adrian Wu: "Yes. It's the people, the people that I've met. It's the models, the bloggers, the people that you meet."
Sid Neigum: "I'm not breaking even yet, but it's worth it. It's fun and it's what I love to do."
Chloe and Parris: "Yes, definitely!"
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