Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation Opens

JCF Fashion Innovators | photo by Joe Fresh

Joe Fresh Centre’s 2016 Fashion Innovators | photo by Joe Fresh

As my regular readers know, I rarely use this blog to promote my own endeavours. In this case it’s unavoidable. Last March Jeanne Beker reported on a $1 million investment by Joe Fresh in Canada’s Fashion Future. Today that investment has been realized, and I’m proud that a team I’ve been working with is officially a part of it.

The new Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation opened last month at Ryerson University, modelled after the highly successful Digital Media Zone (DMZ). Six start-ups were chosen through a nationwide a competitive entry process, juried by top executives from Joe Fresh and the Canadian fashion/tech industry.

During a 18-month program, each business — StyleID, Klothed, Formen, Wear Your Label, Blanc de Noir and Love Winter — enjoys physical workspace in the new Centre, access to Ryerson University’s equipment and facilities, professional guidance and a chance to receive up to $50,000 in funding.

Klothed is where I come in — it’s a mobile styling and shopping app that enables users to quickly and easily create a personalized model that includes a selfie of their face, and a body shape and skin tone that resembles their own. Working with the founders over the past two years, we’re developing something I believe will sit at the forefront of the omnichannel future of retail.

klothed style at your fingertips

The first iteration of klothed caters to men. Users can swipe to virtually try-on clothes, tap to share their outfits with their social networks to get input and advice, buy items and plan what they’re going to wear – all from their mobile device. Check out the quick demo video on our website now. I’ll keep you posted as we move to the next stage of development.

Learn more about our friends and fellow innovators at the Joe Fresh Centre here. They are a fascinating and diverse group of startups. And stay tuned for more from the fashion innovation sector on the F-list — it’s a part of the industry that’s close to my heart.

Decoded Fashion x TWG Toronto Meetup

Travel delays may have derailed Liz Bacelar’s arrival in Toronto, but it couldn’t deny her visit entirely. Bacelar arrived just in time to an event hosted by Decoded Fashion, the fashion tech event series she founded in New York.

The night, sponsored by Fashionotes, began with a networking hour where guests could also experience interactive Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard stations. A fashion tech accessory called Voye shared prototypes of their new clutch. The purse is designed to hold an iPhone with easy access to keypad and camera lens, plus ample room for lipstick and keys. It was stunning work, but these have been on the market for a while, sold by massive brands like Michael Kors (I reported on it here). It’s not yet clear how Voye plans to compete with them.

The session began with an in-depth conversation between The Coveteur and Olivier Van Themsche, Founder of The Cools. That was followed by start-up presentations from John Coombs, Co-Founder CEO of Rove; Bryan Gold, Founder of #paid; and Karn Saroya from Stylekick – great practice for those honing investor pitches.

Finally Liz, fresh from the airport, welcomed the crowd. She has been one to watch since she founded Decoded in 2012. Her enthusiasm for the industry is contagious and everyone wants a piece of her. I had a chance to catch up with Bacelar after the event, here’s what she has to say.

What are your impressions of Toronto’s fashion/tech scene?

I have met an array of founders with solid ideas, strong teams and the smarts on how to scale globally. Canadian startups fit all kinds of success stories – from seed to IPOs. And some are quite inspiring – like Indochino, experimenting with popup customization and Frank and Oak, disrupting the seasons with monthly collections.

The amount of support for fashion/tech related start-ups in NYC is impressive. How did the community rally the support from both brands and the city?

What you see in NY is the openness from brands and retailers to partner with entrepreneurs who can solidly sell a good idea. They recognize that R&D can’t be solely done in-house and the best way to stay ahead is to leverage the ingenuity and the passion from the startup community.

This year Decoded Fashion is an official partner of SXStyle at SXSW. What are you looking forward to most?

SXSW is an ocean of people, talks, places to go. At Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub we want to give startups, brands, retailers and investors interested in the space a home for their worlds to cross – for the delicious SXSW serendipity to take place – while guaranteeing some great networking. These spots will be opened to the general public next week via an application foudn at our official SXSW site.

Venue, The Working Group
Photos by Chris Mudiappahpillai