News, InsightsPOSTED October 12, 2016

Talking about the business of fashion

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Last week my colleague Kylee Berencsi and I were invited to attend Startup Fashion Week’s Business of Fashion Conference at BrainStation in the center of Toronto’s Fashion District.

Ran by founder, Jodi Goodfellow, the day brought together various speakers to educate the fashion-thirsty attendees including:

Keynote: Barbara Atkin, former VP of fashion direction at Holt Renfrew

The event started with Atkin who has years of experience in the luxurious world of fashion and a wealth of knowledge to share.


  • Tech – The most important source of change and disruption in the fashion world, tech and the ability to connect to the consumer at an incredibly rapid speed with social media is taking the industry by storm. Big data will allow designers to interpret and listen to the consumer when designing a collection that both inspires and resonates economically. She sees an even stronger force of wearable tech moving forward.
  • The Wellness Revolution – With today’s desire to stay young and fit, the consumer is turning to anti-aging beauty products, enhanced mineral water, environments that let them live with less stress and the trend that is not going anywhere soon – athleisure.
  • Gender – Moving forward in today’s society the world is embracing various genders and the ways people identify. This has taken a hold on the fashion industry with designers from luxury brands to fast fashion embracing gender fluidity – just look at Jaden and Willow Smith heading powerhouse brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
  • Brand Building – Brand building (what is your story and why it matters) is more important than ever in an industry where the consumer is inundated by a million messages. Designers need to find their niche and fill that void that the public “needs.”

The rest of the conference followed suit with highlights from:

  • Henkaa founder Joanna Duong Chang Talking to the attendees about her personal business experience and focusing on how to find your niche as an emerging designer.
  • Empress Co. co-founder Sara Troka – Discussing the importance and the power of personalization of fashion – a trend which we can see all too well with today’s personalized denim hitting the streets with legions of DIY pieces.
  • Joanna Track, former founder of brands and and current founder of Good Eggs & Co. – Providing the attendees with a personal story of success out of failure and how both are required for greatness.
  • Fashion Panel: Rai Allen (founder of Rai Allen Photography), Graham Topa (corporate lawyer from Aird & Berlis LLP) and King B. Hector Jr. (Designer of We Are Kings): This panel took on important questions from moderator Meg Button and the attendees of the event on the struggles of starting in fashion, the funds needed to start a business and ingredients to make the perfect, coveted brand.

With a day full of incredible insight and learnings, I was truly inspired by the support from this community – a community that represents our city of Toronto – and Canada as a whole – as central point of creative fashion and art.

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Photo courtesy of Startup Fashion Week.