putting menswear on the map

Sons of Ódin / Photography  Che Rosales

Sons of Ódin / Photography Left Arthur Von Tyrpa, centre and right Che Rosales

Until this month, there were seven men’s fashion weeks around the world. Now there are eight, with the addition of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week – lovingly nicknamed TOM*. From the 12th to 14th of August, over 20 designers and brands revealed SS15 collections on the catwalk, industry experts were brought together for panel discussions and an award was created for emerging designers.

Well, nothing remarkable there, but what makes TOM* exceptional is that none of the designers were charged a cent to participate and the event even managed to raise money for charity. A combination of ticket sales and an impressively long list of sponsors, including Audi and Cutler and Gross, funded the proceedings, allowing the designers to concentrate on investing in their collections rather than the cost of the catwalk.

Paulo Succar / Photography   Che Rosales

Paulo Succar / Photography Che Rosales

The designers showing at TOM* ranged from the emerging to the established and included both local and international names. The hugely popular Canadian Christopher Bates concluded day one with his crisp and clean combination of casual wear and tailoring. Local design duo Sons of Ódin were the highlight of day two, with their eclectic take on ready-to-wear featuring leather, quilting, zip detailing and even a wearable parachute. On day three, we were enamoured by Paulo Succar from Mexico, who put nature under a microscope to produce exquisite prints inspired by beetles and bees.

One of the most enjoyable events was the MEN’S FASHION FOR HOPE show, where local celebrities, from television personalities to Olympic medallists, braved the runway in aid of the Kol Hope Foundation, a charity for children with disabilities. Also extremely popular was debonair model Paul Mason, who demonstrated that there’s no age limit on style.

Juan Paulo Guedes / Photography Che Rosales

Joao Paulo Guedes / Photography Che Rosales

TOM* concluded with the first Emerging Menswear Designer Award (EMDA). The five young finalists included Andrew Coimbra, Joao Paulo Guedes, Patrick Salonga, Rani Kim and Som Kong, all demonstrating a high standard in both design and execution. The judging panel clearly struggled to pick a winner for the cash prize, but Brazilian born/Toronto based Guedes, with his beautifully cut tailoring in intricate prints and textures, eventually came out on top.

So, why does Toronto need its own men’s fashion week? Well, put simply, there is a huge potential market for designer menswear. The Greater Toronto Area boasts a population of 2.7 million men, 44% of whom are university graduates with over 30% on a household income of $100,000 or more. Nearly half of the male population is single and therefore likely to have disposable income. While it might not bode well for the career woman, it’s a fact that 8 out of 10 of the area’s top 1% of earners (with an average income of nearly a quarter of a million dollars) are male. You do the maths.

It comes as no surprise then that TOM*’s remit is “to increase the profile and image of menswear as its own viable industry, with its own set of buyers, editors and audience”, rather than letting it continue to take a back seat to womenswear.

“The focus has been squarely on menswear,” confirms Christopher Bates. “Toronto is a legitimate men’s market. I do good business here. It’s stylish. It’s robust. Did it deserve or need its own men’s fashion week? I didn’t know the answer to that, but it seems like there is enough support to have that, for it to exist, so it’s been a great experience.”

For more information, visit tomfw.com

Words / Huma Humayun

Schön! travelled to Toronto with Air Canada and stayed at the Shangri-La hotel. Special thanks to Tourism Toronto

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