Come Autumn 21 the “new normal” should be established and consumers should once again be living lives that involve social engagements, working from the office (even if only part-time) and other basic freedoms that were taken for granted pre-pandemic.
Since the first lockdowns gripped the UK and the rest of the world last spring, retailers frantically pivoted their offers towards athleisure and loungewear to suit an on and off locked-down lifestyle.
But key to fashion and retail’s revival post-pandemic will be introducing consumers to new product that will not only blend with new lifestyles but will get consumers excited about shopping again. And, furthermore, differentiate retailers’ offers from their rivals.
During London Fashion Week this month (which is taking place entirely online) a joint initiative – from The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom, in collaboration with the Toronto Fashion Incubator, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canadian Apparel Federation – provides buyers with the perfect opportunity to discover (and buy directly from) established talent that is not yet widely stocked in the UK.
An expert line-up of UK-based fashion experts has worked with Toronto Fashion Incubator to select a line-up of designers to participate in “Showroom Canada”, a showcase of the best Canadian fashion talent, which is being staged on the JOOR B2B wholesale platform, allowing buyers to both browse and buy during the event.
The panel comprises fashion consultant Alison J Lowe, stylist Rebekah Roy and Moira Niu, managing director at the Crescent Fashion Agency. They selected the designers not only for their innovative designs and use of sustainable materials (key for the new, more conscious post-pandemic consumer) but for their track-record in successfully wholesaling their brands enabling retailers to buy with confidence.
The Showroom Canada line-up includes: FREED, FURB UPCYCLED, FURIOUS FUR, JOEFFER CAOC, KATE AUSTIN, KUWALLA TEE, MAISON MARIE SAINT PIERRE, SHELLI OH, SID NEIGUM, SULLY & SON CO., TORI.XO, UNTTLD and WUXLEY. The collections encompass vegan fashion, upcycled outerwear, faux fur, luxury womenswear, directional jewellery and more. Read the profiles of each designer below.
Typically Showroom Canada takes place in live event form at Canada House on London’s Trafalgar Square but due to the pandemic, it is taking place digitally, along with all London Fashion Week shows this season. The UK market remains strategically important to Canadian designers, so the Showroom Canada team was determined the show would go on.
“We are delighted to partner once again with the Toronto Fashion Incubator for our highly anticipated biannual celebration of Canadian fashion. Showroom Canada brings top-class Canadian designs to the United Kingdom, in an all-new innovative digital way.
“The participating designers feature all that Canada’s fashion industry has to offer, including our vibrant diversity, commitment to the environment, innovation and so much more,” said Her Excellency Mrs Janice Charette, High Commissioner for Canada to the United Kingdom.
“The United Kingdom is an important market for Canadians as it’s our third-largest destination of merchandise exports. Plus, the new Canada-UK TCA trade agreement that began January 1, 2021 eliminates 98% of tariffs on Canadian exports to the UK. Since Canada has banned international travel at this time, creating a digital showroom where our brands can connect with UK and global retailers was a logical decision,” said Susan Langdon, Executive Director, Toronto Fashion Incubator. “Showroom Canada will allow our designers to maintain a global presence.”
The Showroom Canada Line-up
For 100 years and four generations, Freed & Freed International Ltd. has been a full-service garment manufacturer that designs and develops products, both domestically and internationally. FREED, its new apparel line, is proudly made in Canada using ethical and sustainable practices, vegan fabrics and recycled materials whenever possible. FREED is committed to creating accessible fashion that is always luxurious, fun and functional.
FURB UPCYCLED creates handcrafted sustainable pieces by repurposing garments and discarded materials into refined luxury fashion and accessories. Backed by a team of highly experienced craftspeople, the company upcycles valuable and sustainable fabric in the spirit of shaping a thoughtful, ethical future.
FURIOUS FUR is a socially conscious brand launched in 2017 by mother-daughter duo Philippa and Samantha Madigan. Although their closets were filled with vintage fur coats that they cherished, they set out to create products made from faux fur that had the same luxurious and glamorous quality of real fur. FURIOUS FUR combines classic vintage styles with a modern edge.
Established in 2005, JOEFFER CAOC has become synonymous with enduring style. Designer Joeffer Caoc, the three-time winner of the Canadian Designer of the Year award, is a skilled technician, pairing a seemingly minimal aesthetic with meticulous construction. The fluid lines and classic tailoring of his womenswear are balanced by unconventional features and engineered draping, creating the JOEFFER CAOC signature. Using the finest European fabrics, it is proudly manufactured in Canada to ensure uncompromised quality.
KATE AUSTIN is a sustainable lifestyle brand of print-focused casual clothing and accessories for women. KATE AUSTIN values diversity, transparency and environmental responsibility. The brand’s original print designs are hand-blocked on organic cotton, silk, linen and wool. The colourful clothing and accessories are made in both Toronto and India by World Fair Trade Organization certified artisans.
KUWALLA TEE creates ready-to-wear basics for men and women who refuse to compromise comfort for style. As a North American leader in the world of premium streetwear brands, its Beyond Label Essentials ready-to-wear is created with the environment in mind, minimizing waste wherever it can. Using high-quality fabrics, KUWALLA TEE designs “essential” items that are timeless and easy-to-wear.
With 30 years of tradition and excellence, MAISON MARIE SAINT PIERRE, redefines modern, luxury womenswear. Designer Marie Saint Pierre has won numerous awards and is a leader in Canada’s fashion industry. Her brand is not only known for its use of innovative fabrics, but also for its elegant balance between power dressing and sculptural art.
The SHELLI OH collections for women and men infuse a refreshing vitality and vision into high-end clothing, with a signature focus on distinctive details, unique textures and stylish charm. The womenswear collections are defined by ethereal femininity and enhanced by hand-sewn detailing that creates elaborate tactile landscapes. The menswear collections are characterized by traditional tailoring with a whimsical twist and an art-house dandy air.
Multi-award winning designer SID NEIGUM aims to challenge convention and question tradition. He uses a mathematical approach, infusing geometry and precision into his innovative, modern womenswear looks. Known for experimenting with pleats, shapes, movement and origami, the Alberta-born designer has shown in Toronto, London, New York, Paris and Dubai.
Sully & Son Co. is a premium accessory brand that represents modern minimalism and sophistication. With a well-balanced mix of smart design, craftsmanship and quality materials, S&S delivers superior lifestyle products for beings that seek innovation in their everyday.
TORI•XO jewellery has gained international momentum since its debut in 2008. Stylists have dubbed the brand “effortlessly elegant” and “truly one-of-a-kind”. The brand’s distinctive feature is a technique developed by founder Tori Poynton. Handmade vintage French lace is pressed onto silver; no two pieces are ever exactly the same. The award-winning brand has been worn by musicians such as Jill Barber and Taylor Swift.
Since its inception in 2011, UNTTLD has won several awards for design excellence. The brand is devoted to materializing a sense of power, drama and glamour, where the historic, the exotic and the poetic transcend to create timeless elegance. Through sensual tailoring, rich materials, and impeccable fit, creative directors José St-Jacques and Simon Bélanger handcraft high-quality, elegant designs with a distinct point of view.
Wuxlry Movement is a Canadian apparel brand founded on the philosophy that we can be kinder to our planet. Through the unique combination of innovative, sustainable and animal-free materials Wuxly Movement designs quality outerwear to help people #LiveWarm. Their mission is to inspire their community to live warm in their coats but also in their everyday life.
Showroom Canada runs online from 16 February.
Retailers and buyers wishing to attend can visit the site here.
The Toronto Fashion Incubator is an innovative, award-winning, and highly acclaimed non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and nurturing Canadian fashion entrepreneurs. Through the development of its programs, events, social enterprise and mentoring, TFI’s work benefits the local and national economies by stimulating business retention and job creation.
The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom is Canada’s diplomatic mission to the UK, and works to enrich the Canada-UK bilateral relationship across a range of portfolios, including the cultural and creative industries. Through a variety of activities, including “Canada Goes Digital”, a digital campaign showcasing Canadian culture across the country, and the work of the Trade Commissioner Service, the High Commission of Canada supports Canadian creators, businesses, and investors, by facilitating the commercial expansion of Canada’s creative entrepreneurs.
The Department of Canadian Heritage, Canadian Heritage and its portfolio organizations play a vital role in the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians. Arts, culture and heritage represent more than $53 billion in the Canadian economy and close to 666,500 jobs in sectors such as film and video, broadcasting, music, publishing, archives, performing arts, heritage institutions, festivals and celebrations. Through the Creative Export Strategy, Canadian Heritage supports creative industries, including the fashion and design sector, in achieving international business objectives and positioning themselves for export and sales in foreign markets.
The Canadian Apparel Federation (CAF) is the national industry association for the apparel supply chain in Canada. CAF is the advocate for the industry in various policy areas, supporting efforts to manage domestic regulations impacting the industry, expand exports to new markets, and develop training and professional development to benefit the industry. CAF members include firms from small suppliers to national brands and vertically integrated retailers.
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