Rogue fashion week: Jeremy Laing & Sid Neigum

This past week was an interesting reflection on Toronto’s fashion reality. While conjecture flew around what to expect at World MasterCard Fashion Week now that IMG Worldwide is our new big fashion daddy, two very different groups set up camp for a series of offsite shows. 

The shOws featured four international designers with a Canadian connection including Tanya Taylor, Jean Pierre Braganza, Antonio Azzuolo and Jeremy Laing. Laing has long been a darling of Canada’s fashion media. Dividing his time between Toronto and New York, he typically eschews a Toronto showcase for presentations in New York. (It’s nothing personal, Toronto. It’s business, baby.) And while I always find Laing’s work interesting, I don’t always relate to it personally. Not this time. Loved loved loved. 

Jeremy Laing spring 2013
Jeremy Laing at the shOws

On the opposite side of town (and on the same days) were The Collections, produced by the Fashion Collective, which featured up and coming designers like Chloe Comme Parris, Klaxon Howl and Sid Neigum. Neigum is the winner of Toronto Fashion Incubator’s 2012 New Labels competition. Having watched him progress over five months while developing his winning fall/winter 2012 collection, it was a treat to see what he’d do with spring 2013.

Sid’s unisex approach to design has always set him apart from his Toronto design peers, and it seems he’s found a beautiful balance of unisex features and feminine fit. (Praise must be given to TFI New Labels for mentoring him to a stronger, better place.) I found this collection incredibly wearable, while still maintaining that unique aesthetic that’s all Sid. Here’s hoping we can find it in stores six months from now. And may you be our next Jeremy Laing.

Sid Neigum spring 2013
Sid Neigum spring 2013
Sid Neigum spring 2013
Sid Neigum at the Burroughes Building

Jean Pierre Braganza shOws off in Toronto

Looking at Jean Pierre Braganza‘s early years, his story is typical of any Canadian designer. Here’s a guy whose family moved to Canada from the UK when he was an infant. He grew up in Montreal and Toronto. Once in university to study fine arts, he realized his fashion dream and enrolled in fashion school in Toronto. Just like so many designers I know.

His story then moves back to London to the famed Central St. Martin’s College and well, that’s where the similarities end. Seeing his spring 2013 collection in Toronto this week, I wondered if other Canadian-based designers secretly swelled with envy.

Jean Pierre Braganza’s line is edgy, sophisticated and, in my opinion, jaw droppingly hot. While his talent is clearly innate, he didn’t jump into his own label fresh out of design school, even though he had a few accolades under his belt by then. Instead he chose to continue his schooling in the real world, working under designers like Roland Mouret. That experience shows in his impeccable tailoring and complex construction. 

As much as I fell in love with Jean Pierre, his look isn’t made for the North American customer. Look at his stockists and there’s only one store on the entire continent – of course, in New York City. But he’s out there, all over in places like the UK, Hong Kong and Saudia Arabia. (Somehow it’s no surprise he had a Canadian upbringing, eh?)

Jean Pierre Braganza wasn’t on my radar prior to the shOws bringing him to Toronto’s rogue fashion week, but he’s one I will watch. I think he sets a great example for young designers on how to succeed in fashion. Get out there after school. Experience life. Work for others. Stay true to yourself. And maybe, just maybe, your hometown will be feting you for the fashion masses one day.