Check out the work of 25 Canadian designers through an expanded digital presence from October 15-26.
“There are more and more boundaries to overcome,” says Vanja Vasic, founder and managing director of the now 15-year-old Fashion Art Toronto event. After hosting several livestream shows last spring (when the IRL FAT was supposed to be happening as part of its regular schedule), the multi-day avant-garde initiative continues its commitment to being a showcase for the world’s most eclectic talent by sharing its virtual Version introduces Fashion Week calendar. As always, Vasic and her team have thought about how to uniquely express creativity in this highly unusual time.
“They look outside and have the city landscape as a runway,” she says of how the brainstorming process for the redesigned event began after it became clear that a typical FAT festival is taking place, which attracts thousands of participants every year – Will not be possible due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In line with FAT’s mission to showcase cross-border ideas for design – whether in terms of gender norms, sustainable fabrication or technology – Vasic said they used various locations in Toronto as the backdrop for the runway presentations. “We give every designer a unique backdrop for their show,” she says of the venues, which include the Ontario Science Center and Ontario Place. “We curated each location especially for them. You will learn a history of Toronto as you browse their collections. [And] No two shows will have the same background, which is very exciting. “
That which makes something extraordinary – be it a city, an item of clothing or a person, as it was the case when FAT became the launch pad for the mega-model (and current FASHION cover girl) Winnie Harlow a few years ago – is a signature of Vasic’s and a skill she continued to improve as she directed FAT over the years. “It’s not a typical fashion week,” she notes. “We give a voice and a platform to people who don’t necessarily feel part of the mainstream or belong to it. We have always been a place to research and gender norms [feature] different body types and cultural backgrounds; For me, that’s basically what motivates me. “
Just like the ethos of FAT was to promote the power and beauty of difference, upcoming runway shows will feature brands like the upcycling House of Mannon, U3, Gervacy, Eight (i) Three and Pasquiat, plus an a finale Selecting the work of Ryerson University graduates will also leverage a bold spirit. “It’s a bit rebellious in a way,” she says. “We are taking over the city and the streets and doing so in the face of the restrictions.”
Following the success of the first Instagram Live / YouTube streams that FAT presented in April, Vasic said it was logical to build on that dynamic – one that would capture the excitement of live entertainment (and the comforting nostalgia that everyone gets from a particular Age group) uses the giant escalators of the Science Center). “We’re still doing a live show to keep that element of spontaneity and performance,” she says. For those who can’t tune in live, edited versions of the shows will be released later. A couple of fashion films will also be included in the program.
Of course, there are other good reasons to highlight the remarkable Toronto landscape other than the fact that we can’t really enjoy it right now. There’s also the notion that FAT is uniquely Torontonic – and that’s something to celebrate. “Ultimately, we try to showcase Canadian and Toronto-specific fashion,” says Vasic. “It’s important to be proud of the city and where we’re from. I think that as Toronto nationals, it is sometimes difficult for us to be proud of our identity in a sense. Especially in the fashion world; We are not Milan, New York or London. However, she says the ability to run FAT virtually also opens up the possibility of globalization, noting that designers from the US and Peru should also be part of the week’s agenda.
These inclusions speak for the seasonal (and highly predictive) theme of FAT as it was decided before COVID: “We’re all together”. and to encourage this community-minded feeling, is the request that guests of FAT not buy tickets this year and instead give them to the Toronto-based organization FoodShare.
“Access to food is a basic need,” says Vasic when asked why FAT decided to direct donations there. “A lot of people are struggling right now – it’s not just now, it’s always been a problem, but especially now. [FoodShare] works with marginalized communities – people with disabilities and people of the same color. We just want to be part of a bigger community and support something that matters. It’s about creating equality. It’s something we do as a festival, giving a voice to people who are usually not recognized. In that sense, it’s also relevant. “
Speaking of relevant, the shift the fashion industry has made in recent years to create a more inclusive landscape cannot be lost for Vasic, who is a pioneer of this thinking. While it is stated that the diversity celebrated by FAT is both an asset and a detriment – “[It’s] What FAT does not consider to be known and recognized in a way ”- she says she is inspired by what she has seen over the past few months, how people think, both inside and outside of the fashion industry.
“When you are in a crisis like this, it wakes you up to what is important,” she says. “For me there was a lot of fear – as a creative person myself, but I also have all these other creative people who depend on me. It was just about taking action and doing something. That was the thing that got me out of fear of fear, fear and what was to come next. To reevaluate and swim…. Now that I’ve been able to provide this space for people, I feel energized because the creatives are energized and excited to be back. They would put everything on hold and now that energy is driving them. It’s a nice feeling to be able to do your thing. “Those close to FAT, either as participants or as spectators, wouldn’t want it any other way.