fashion week toronto

Toronto Fashion Week S/S 2015 preview

Toronto Fashion Week is back at the tents at David Pecaut Square for the spring/summer 2015 season. As designers make a mad dash to perfect their collections before sending them out the door, and countless volunteers pull on their black T-shirts and pick out stylish-yet-practical shoes, the Canadian fashion media debates how much the spectacle of the shows does for our homegrown talent (even Jeanne Beker herself recently weighed in).

Still, even as buyers trickle out of the fashion week shows, journalists and industry members trickle in, preserving fashion week's value as a platform for exposure and keeping all eyes - at least for one week - firmly on Canadian talent. Where should your eyes go this week?

I've rounded up some of the new and returning designers to watch - as well as a few potential curveballs - on the spring/summer 2015 runway.

Brand-new faces
The tents tend to be pretty empty during the early-afternoon shows, but you may want to turn up early - there's a lot of new talent hitting the catwalk this year. Som Kong, a clear audience fave at TOM's emerging designers competition, wlll be showing as part of the Threshold showcase. Luxurious-Canadiana line Elan + Castor, after popping up at industry showcases around WMCFW, are finally hitting the runway, along with Rudybois, a Montreal line already known for dressing Quebecois luminaries like Marie-Mai, and the neon-brites of Aussie-bred designer Hayley Elsaesser.

Rising talent
Yeah, Mackage, Pink Tartan and Joe Fresh are always going to pack the house - but some of the most exciting names on the schedule are newbies who made killer first impressions on last season's runway. Brit Wacher, coming off a season that saw St. Vincent wear one of her pieces on SNL, has imagined an alternate Earth for her spring 2015 collection. Malorie Urbanovich, who tied for top honours at last year's MBSU competition, is back for her first proper runway show. And Hilary MacMillan, after two strong initial collections, is back for another go - I can't wait to see what she shows next.

Major luxury
Scrappier, streetwear-oriented brands (Travis Taddeo) and denim lines (Triarchy) are taking a season off, but glamorous collections for men and women - Narces, Stephan Caras, Christopher Bates, Mikael D, and Matthew Gallagher, to name a few - are staying strong. Expect Caitlin Power and the Beyonce-approved Mikhael Kale to add some edge.

A fashion-design battle-royale
Hometown young'uns Beaufille and Sid Neigum, year after year, make for two of WMCFW's most riveting shows; this year, they're competing - along with fellow Fashion Week veteran Laura Siegel - for the Mercedes-Benz Start Up award, usually the domain of brand-new faces at Fashion Week. Also in the running: Eliza Faulkner, BLAK.I and VAIKEN. At stake is a $30,000 bursary and an industry mentorship; I'm willing to bet one of the three veterans will take the crown, but anything can happen.

Splashy surprises (maybe)
The upstart designers will be the ones bringing excitement to the collections, but WMCFW's mega-retailers tend to bring the showmanship elsewhere. Joe Fresh flew in Heather Marks last season, while Target threw around some of those marketing dollars and brought in bonafide supermodel Erin Wasson for their first show. Interestingly, Joe's skipping the runway this year to focus on throwing a big promotional opening-night party instead - but we bet it'll be one to remember.

More info on the official World MasterCard Fashion Week site.

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