Toronto's Fashion Week to preview new cool-weather styles for fall and winter

While many winter-weary Canadians are more than ready to ditch their parkas, tuques and boots, at least one segment of the population isn't quite ready to give chilly-weather styles the cold shoulder.

Canadian designers will unveil fresh fashions for fall and winter at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week beginning on Monday. The semi-annual showcase will offer a fashionable flash-forward to styles set to land in stores later this year.

Day 1 will feature some of the most buzz-worthy labels on the homegrown scene with Mikhael Kale, VAWK by Sunny Fong, sibling design duo Chloe and Parris Gordon of Beaufille, John Muscat and Jennifer Wells of Line Knitwear and Alberta-born, Toronto-based Sid Neigum.

And not unlike the emergence of new fashions, the calendar is undergoing a facelift with up-and-coming talents and other new additions poised to present their latest lines.

Longtime Toronto-based designer Farley Chatto and Dutch-bred retailer gsus sindustries are returning to the Fashion Week fold after several seasons away from the Toronto runway. Montreal-based designers Claudette Floyd, Helmer Joseph and Brit Wacher, Vancouver-based ready-to-wear label Madame Moje and Toronto-based emerging menswear label Outclass are among those set to unveil collections.

Returning Fashion Week fixtures include womenswear labels Stephan Caras, David Dixon, Melissa Nepton and Pink Tartan, men's sportswear label Bustle, leather goods retailer Rudsak and affordable apparel brand Joe Fresh.

"It's always important to have a good mix because the established brands help bring more attention to the event and the emerging designers help to bring a look at what is the future," said Jarrad Clark, global creative director of IMG Fashion Events & Properties, whose organization spearheads World MasterCard Fashion Week.

Fashion Week events are particularly pivotal for emerging talents in allowing them to experiment not only with who they are as designers, but to help identify their customers, Clark noted, adding that the showcase provides them with the opportunity to "really get their product right."

The Toronto event arrives toward the end of yet another long season featuring fall-winter collections unveiled in major style hubs like New York, London and Paris. But there has been a sizable gap on the homegrown calendar with the absence of Montreal Fashion Week, which has been a prominent platform for designers in the province.

Organizers of the event announced last November that they had "temporarily put a hold" on the winter edition, opting to focus on merging with Montreal's summer Fashion and Design Festival.

There are several other style showcases that are staged across the country, including those held in Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver, as well as Atlantic Fashion Week in Halifax and Western Canada Fashion Week in Edmonton.

Laura deCarufel, fashion features director at Elle Canada, said she was disappointed to hear that Montreal Fashion Week wasn't going ahead this season, adding that it's "lovely" to have regional showcases for designers.

While having a singular national Fashion Week may be most beneficial in terms of offering wider exposure to national retailers, media and bloggers, deCarufel acknowledged the costs that come with staging a large-scale show may present a potential challenge to some designers.


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