While most fashion shows only have apparel designers displaying their work, the Startup Fashion Week (SFW) runway show included, for the first time this year, accessory designers.
SFW began in 2014 with the purpose of creating a platform for up-and-coming businesses to meet people in their field and showcase their labels. The week-long event is jam-packed with networking events, conferences and forums – leading up to the highly-anticipated runway show to close it off.
“We’re all about trying to give visibility to those who really need it,” said Jodi Goodfellow, the executive producer and creator of SFW. “We thought that [showing an accessory line] was an area that has been overlooked in other fashion weeks, so we wanted to do something about it.”
Goodfellow said that in the past, a significant number of accessory designers applied to collaborate with SFW. This year, she decided to include them on the runway.
Montreal-based accessories designer Bianca Cordileone had the opportunity to be a vendor at the event and present her collection during the runway show. Cordileone said she was amazed that having accessories lines walk the runway was even an option.
Goodfellow hosted a networking event for SFW in Montreal where she met Cordileone and offered her an opportunity to showcase and sell her collection at this year’s SFW in Toronto after seeing her work.
“For an accessories designer to have a platform like a wardrobe designer was truly an amazing experience, eye-opening even,” said Cordileone. “I definitely will never forget something like this. It was truly and honestly, an amazing idea to allow us accessory designers to come on and walk the runway.”
Cordileone’s brand, EMY Armor, offers a unique approach in spicing up an outfit with meticulously-made chain pieces that drape elegantly around the body. Helen Oro Designs creates an impact by putting a twist on regular accessories like sunglasses and chokers by infusing traditional Indigenous beadwork.
“I realized about five years ago, that for girls, we’re limited to accessorizing an outfit with either a necklace, a bracelet or earrings and that’s it,” Cordileone said. “So what I decided to do is come up with a concept that I feel is going to be a staple – like a handbag and a necklace. An armour is gonna be a staple.”
A throng of eager and talented designers from Montreal, including Cordileone, all vie for a chance to participate in SFW each year.
“We do get applicants and even guests from Montreal,” said Goodfellow. “I guess because [Montreal] fashion week shut down a few years ago, there really isn’t much happening to create a community in Montreal fashion.”
Initially, Goodfellow’s plan was to attract businesses from Montreal to Toronto. However, it ended up working differently.
“My intent was to create more awareness and to bring more people to Toronto,” said Goodfellow. “But what I realized when went to Montreal last year, is that what they’re really looking for is a platform in Montreal where they can start making connections like what we offer them at our networking event because they were saying that there was nothing happening out there.”
Goodfellow believes that this new expansion to Montreal is ideal for Toronto designers who are looking for ways to build a network and find opportunities for growth.
Since there is a high failure rate for businesses in Canada, Goodfellow said her paramount objective with SFW is to provide a space and opportunity for startup designers, to see that rate of failure decrease.
“We really want to emphasize growth and visibility by creating opportunities in key places across Canada.”
SFW will be coming to Montreal in Spring 2018.
(featured image by Mike Sukhram)