Business, Events, Fashion

New Start Up Designer Competition

Lauren Bagliore Spring 2011
When IMG sent an invitation to the fashion crowds in Toronto inviting them to attend a “cocktail reception and special announcement” at the Mercedes-Benz dealership, most of us assumed it was a new sponsorship of LG Fashion Week.  After all IMG has steered event management of fashion weeks worldwide and Mercedes-Benz is the title sponsor of many of them (NY, Miami, Berlin). IMG has taken an increasingly active role in Toronto’s shows. Bring on the high-end hot wheels, I thought.
Instead, after the champagne and canapes, they announced a new designer competition called Start Up that will launch this fall at LG Fashion Week’s Spring 2012 event. Only designers in Vancouver and Montreal are invited to compete the first year, though it will expand to other cities in 2012. To be eligible, designers must be in business for less than five years. 
Twenty finalists will make the semi-final round, and four designers will be selected to show their collections at the national final during LG Fashion Week. The winner will enjoy a five month incubation period where they will work with industry mentors to prepare a debut solo show for the Fall 2012 runway.

“The goal is to facilitate a platform for these designers to showcase their talent in a professional setting with access to key mentors from various segments of the industry.”
       – Peter Levy, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of IMG Fashion

Details on application process, judges and industry mentors are forthcoming. What isn’t coming is cash for the winner, sadly. It seems odd to offer a designer competition, a la Project Runway, and not offer cash. Will the industry mentors help raise funds for fabrics and production? What about costs associated with the runway show, does the FDCC absorb that?
If IMG and Mercedes-Benz really wanted to wow us, they would promise the winning designer cash and a slot at an international show. Canada’s proximity and influence from the States makes expansion into the U.S. almost a requirement in business. I’m not positive this will prepare designers for that important step, so for now I’m filing under “wait and see.”
Photo by George Pimentel.