SID’s Hat Trick at CAFA

Last Saturday’s Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA) proved at least one thing. There is a future for a fashion awards show in Canada.

CAFA hosted its second annual awards show to celebrate and support the Canadian fashion industry by honouring designers, stylists and other fashion influencers. Twelve awards were given out during a gala dinner at the Fairmont Royal York.

NEWSFLASH: Sid Neigum is officially a triple threat. He’s won the TFI New Labels (2012), the Mercedes Benz Start-Up (2014) and now CAFA’s Emerging Talent, Fashion award. Hey Canada, don’t they call that a hat trick in hockey?

Sid Neigum by MJC Photography

Sid Neigum by MJC Photography

Neigum has netted a combined total of $70,000 in cash prizes plus valuable services and mentorship to help push his career forward. All eyes will be on his next move. I think Neigum is perfectly poised to break out of Canada in a serious way.

This year CAFA added a second emerging talent award for Accessories, won by Beaufille. Swarovski sponsored both Emerging Talent categories. Winners each received $10,000 plus time with a six-panel team of mentors. The panel will offer their expertise and services. Vicky Milner, CAFA managing director, explained,

Mentorship is so incredibly important for designers. We approached different individuals who would be able to offer different skill sets and services, helping them save money on things that are normally quite expensive (i.e. PR and digital support) while at the same time providing them honest and valuable advice about  business, finance, marketing , manufacturing, distribution, etc.

Bravo to Tommy Ton who took home two CAFA trophies including the Sephora Image Maker Award and Fashion Blogger of the Year for his (now shuttered) I have mad love and respect for Tommy ever since we spent an afternoon in my closet in the early days of his blog (way, way back). He knew every designer and every season of everything I owned.

In the Closet on

In the Closet on

It is worth noting how many of the gala’s attendees appeared to be non-industry folk – you know, regular people who don’t work in fashion. This is a good thing. More people supporting the industry leads to better resources for designers, more attention from retailers and media and ideally, more success all around.

The list of 2015 CAFA winners includes:

The Womenswear Designer of the Year Award – Mikhael Kale

The Menswear Designer of the Year Award – Philippe Dubuc

The Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, Fashion – Sid Neigum

The Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, Accessories – Beaufille

The Outstanding Achievement Award – Marie Saint-Pierre

The Accessory Designer of the Year Award – Jerome C. Rousseau

The Sephora Image Maker Award – Tommy Ton

The Hudson’s Bay International Canadian Designer of the Year Award – Erdem

The Yorkdale Stylist of the Year Award –  Zeina Esmail

The Model of the Year Award – Anaïs Pouliot

The Fashion Blogger of the Year Award – Tommy Ton

The Vanguard Award – Joe Zee

Photos by the F-List except where noted.

Toronto Fashion Week – Part One

Spring may have announced itself on the calendar this week, but the weather is still pushing its winter agenda, much to the dismay of the fashion crowds. Trust me, we are so over winter. It’s finally time for fashion week in Toronto. We’re both ready for spring and all about fall.

Snow gently falling on the tents

World MasterCard Fashion Week has become a fine mix of our emerging and pro designers. In between the shows we mix in a bit of business, like DHL Express Canada’s fashion industry panel moderated by yours truly. The event featured DHL Canada’s president Greg Hewitt, IMG Fashion Director Jarrad Clark, designers Christopher Bates (Christopher Bates menswear) and Adam Taubenfligel (Triarchy), Roxanne Joyal of Me to We and Mark Zimmerman from MaRs Discovery District. The panelists were a great bunch who offered insight on starting a business, global reach and logistics acumen.

DHL Express Canada fashion industry panel

Toronto Fashion Incubator took over the studio area for two days to present the annual TFI Press & Buyers breakfast event. This showcases up and coming designers in a boutique tradeshow platform.
The organization I head up, Fashion Group International, hosts our speed networking event on Friday.

Opening night included Canadian fashion stalwarts Izzy Camilleri (with a new line Miz), Pink Tartan and Bustle, with up-and-comer label Chloe Comme Parris snuck in-between. I had the pleasure of being asked by Sony Canada to shoot the Bustle show with their new Xperia tablet. Fun! 

My latest accessory, the Sony Xperia tablet
Shot with Sony’s Xperia tablet
Shawn & Ruth of Bustle Clothing

I love how designers support each other — Ruth is wearing Triarchy’s gold denim. The next night featured Mercedes-Benz Start Up winner DUY and last year’s TFI New Labels winner Sid Neigum. Major talent, these boys. But truthfully, would we see their true potential without the help of these design challenges? Likely not. There’s more to come this week, stay tuned.

Sid Neigum
Sid Neigum

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

New Labels Final Showdown

 In the last judging session for TFI’s New Labels, there was a poignant moment where the judges realized how far the finalists had come through the competition. Montreal-based Patrick L’Arrivee already had orders from 57 retail shops for his namesake outerwear collection. That’s right, 57. (Can you even name 57 stores in Canada that sell outerwear?!)

Patrick L’Arrivee’s Fall 2012 collection

An example of what to expect for his runway styling proved that Patrick had literally arrived. “You took everything we said, and appreciated it,” exclaimed Suzanne Rogers. To win over retail is one thing; to win over Suzanne Rogers is another. 

Patrick L’Arrivee’s Fall 2012 collection

The judges agreed ditching the red leather was a good move by Sid Neigum. “I didn’t have the time or money to make it meaningful,” he admitted. It’s important to know where and when to stop when a piece isn’t working. Given how many things Sid has had on his plate over the past five months, it highlighted his focus and strength. Between traveling, finishing both a women’s and men’s collection for Fall 2012, market weeks, store appointments, a fashion show at Toronto Fashion Week, producing and shipping 2012 and researching spring 2013….well, let’s just say there wasn’t a dull moment. “I love that.”

Sid Neigum Fall 2012 womenswear

Jameson Kane had “great hanger appeal” according to judges David Dixon and Arie Assaraf. “Very important.” Hard to believe six months ago the label was just a dream. Designers Genevieve Pearson and Stan Capobianco were unanimous in their enthusiasm. “We are so happy we listened to our hearts. What would have happened if we decided not to go for it? So now we are always listening to what our hearts tell us.”

Jameson Kane Fall 2012

For Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar, the challenge has never been knowing where to go, but the getting there. “Our challenge has been distance and time,” said Diego. “I live in Richmond Hill and he lives in Hamilton. And we both work full-time jobs.” Evidently, distance makes the bond grow stronger, as the boys noted that every step of producing the [blak]-i (pronounced black eye) was shared quite evenly.

[blak] • i Fall 2012 collection
On Thursday it’s all on the line, as Joe Zee says, for these four finalists. Only one can walk away with the big prize. But don’t expect anything bitchy behind the scenes. “You’d expect a group of people competing for $25,000 [cash] to be aggressive, to say the least. This is not the case at all. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of each other and everyone in the running is talented and deserving of the prize,” surmised Sid.

So Canadian, eh?!

Stay tuned to @TheFList on Twitter for updates from TFI25 starting at 6pm.

TFI New Labels Final Four

Let’s catch up on New Labels. Last month, the eco-loving label, Lois Lane, was dropped from TFI’s competition leaving Sid Neigum, [blak]•i, Jameson K and Patrick Larrivee left to battle for a prize package that includes $25,000 cash.
Earlier this month the judges convened at TFI’s headquarters to review each designer’s collection thus far — they had to submit eight outfits and include some runway styling options. The judges – TNT’s Arie Assaraf, Flare magazine’s Lisa Tant, Toronto Star writer Derick Chetty, designer David Dixon and philanthropist Suzanne Rogers – feel pretty well-versed on the collections by now. They are getting to know the designers and have a lot of expectations from them. The remarks come full throttle once the fit models shows up in an outfit.
“Impressive stitching.” “Still has a Sears vibe.” “Could have used some pressing.” “Why do this?”
TFI’s director Susan Langdon admits it’s unusual to see so much outerwear in the New Labels competition, leading me to believe that even though Canada boasts some great outerwear labels, our own designers are not impressed. They feel they can do better.
Susan Langdon presents a few of Sid Neigum’s pieces for review
Checking the construction on a Patrick Larrivee coat
Jameson Kane

Inside TFI New Labels Judging

Last fall the F-list reported on a beefed up prize package for TFI New Labels 2012 designer competition. Each month leading up to the May reveal, we’ll go behind the scenes to document the New Labels judging process. 
At the first judges meeting last month, TFI’s director Susan Langdon presented 36 submissions for review, narrowed down from the overwhelming number of applications received – no doubt a result of this year’s $25,000 cash prize, care of fashion-loving philanthropist Suzanne Rogers. Five semi-finalists were selected to move forward.  
The judging panel of Derick Chetty (Toronto Star), designer David Dixon, TNT boutique’s Arie Assaraf, Flare magazine editor-in-chief Lisa Tant, Suzanne Rogers and Susan regrouped earlier this month to see the designers’ progress.
Storyboard from Lois Lane’s Arctic collection
Each designer had submitted samples to review against their initial storyboards and technical drawings we saw in December. It’s the first chance for the designers to personally impress the judges. They are there in person to help outfit a fit model and meet the judges. Will they show enough promise to continue in the competition?
The judges review a [blak]-i outfit on a fit model
First up is [blak]-i. Designer team Diego Fuchs and Helder Aguiar may have recent press to flaunt, but in this room the only thing that matters is the fit and fabric. The judges start at the seams, literally. The model changes into the cargo pants and jacket. “Fit is great,” someone chirps. “Decent quality.” The hip, contemporary line isn’t selling yet anywhere, but the boys get extra points for a reasonable price point ($95 – $495) and knowing their retail targets.
David and Suzanne discuss the detailing on a Patrick Larrivee coat
Next is Patrick Larrivee, no newcomer to fashion. Many remember his label Fashion Psychology with Beryl Bacchus from 2002. Patrick learned a harsh lesson of fashion design when the sales didn’t match the line’s critical acclaim. As Arie points out, considering he is designing coats in a country that boasts Mackage, Rudsak, Soia & Kyo, he better know what he’s doing. “You know who your competitors are, which is good,” Arie says.  But the collection “has a Sears vibe,” which in these circles, is not a compliment. That generally means it’s not fashion-y enough. “Picture it on a runway, how is it styled?” someone asks. Patrick is selling already – bonus! – but more importantly, he is willing to listen and incorporate the judges design feedback. 
Lois (Elaine) Van Koughnet of Lois Laine had idealistic plans for a second career in fashion – stylish, structural apparel made from organic fabrics. Unfortunately, eco-fabrics don’t hold structure – they are just too flimsy. And as David points out, “Eco is a ‘nice to have’, but it’s not a selling feature.” She’s encouraged to move away from the 100% eco ethos, and mix organic fabrics with natural looking fibers and materials to accomplish her design goals in production. Arie suggests she research what retail and the customer want. (This is the last we’ll see of Elaine. The label is eliminated from competition.)

Jameson Kane has great styling, fit is another matter, says Lisa Tant
Jameson Kane‘s designers Genevieve Pearson and Stan Capobianco are in a pinch with their coat collection. They’ve made the samples themselves, and the result is not good. “The styling is better than the execution.” The judges look past the puckering seams for a moment and insist their price point is too high. “Empires have been built on one thing, look at Smythe!” Chetty remarks, noting that it comes down to excellence. You can do one thing, but do it perfectly. They promise to have it locked up for next time. 
A late plane arrival from NYC nearly derailed Sid Neigum, but he arrived with samples just in time. (As a result of connections he made interning with Yigal Azrouel, Sid’s samples are made in New York.) His unisex collections have appeared in the last two seasons of Toronto Fashion Week. Sid’s customer wants to be different, he claims, she doesn’t like to wear what everyone else is wearing. The judges were easily impressed with his storyboards last month, but the fit is troubling them in person. It’s too 80’s. “It’s all about the fit,” says Arie. But it’s edgy and interesting, so we’ll see him again.
The judges meet again next month, stay tuned for more!