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Fashion events must rethink business models to better serve designers

Friday, August 21, 2020 @ 11:09 AM | By Vanessa Kiraly

Vanessa Kiraly %>
Vanessa Kiraly
The Canadian fashion industry has hit a point where it must reconsider whether value still exists in the traditional fashion week model. In my experience, the reason why fashion event companies don’t survive is due to the nature of their business models.

Fashion events in Canada have operated based on prioritizing short-term profit, not necessarily from a mindset that the event is a service helping to create long-term business for designers.

Unaffordable costs to showcase, audiences lacking buyers and little post-show public support lead to a high designer turnover rate. In other words, events are setting themselves up for failure because designers come to realize that paying large sums of money to showcase is no longer beneficial nor feasible, especially when collections can be launched via social media, an in-store event, or virtual runway shows.

Fashion events need to take the burden off designers financially and would benefit from long-needed government funding. The Toronto Fashion Academy’s International Fashion Encounter shows are moving in the right direction. Among several other independent designers, I was able to showcase my spring/summer 2020 collection at no cost. This company generates funds through sponsorships, affordable ticket sales and the students taught at their academy who gain experience by working for their shows. Forgoing expensive showcasing fees, finding alternative sources of funding and attracting buyers will be crucial for Canadian fashion events to remain relevant to designers in the future.

Educating future generations of designers on the business of fashion and the value of legal protection is only the first step the Canadian fashion community will have to take to see progress in Canadian fashion.

It is the responsibility of lawyers practising fashion law to advocate for improved IP protection for fashion brands and to increase affordable access to justice for designers whose works have been compromised by fast fashion companies. On the other hand, if Canadians wish to have a thriving fashion economy, consumers have the responsibility to support “slow” fashion brands — independent designers that focus on ethical and sustainable garment creation.

This is part two of a two-part series. Part one: Insider’s look at legal, business issues faced by Canadian fashion industry.

Since designing her first collection at the age of 16, Vanessa Lisa Kiraly has worked as a designer, fashion event co-ordinator, creative director, photograph retoucher and photographer. She graduated from U of T with an honours bachelor of science and is attending Ryerson Law in the fall. She is the recipient of the Gardiner Roberts LLP scholarship for female law students with a business focus and hopes to continue contributing to the fashion industry as a lawyer, among other future practice areas of interest. Learn more at her LinkedIn profile.

Photo credit / mi_007 ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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