Canadian chic: Inaugural CAFA awards shine spotlight on homegrown fashion industry

Who will be Canada’s next top model outfitter? At this weekend’s Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA) inaugural gala in Toronto, we’ll find out: emerging and established talent will be celebrated in award categories focused on design, styling, modelling, photography.
The awards ceremony aims to promote homegrown talent by creating economic development opportunities for them. ”The retail market in Canada is shifting drastically. There’s big box retailers moving in,” Brittney Kuczynski, founding director of CAFA, explained in an interview. “As much as this is an event about promoting the economic development of Canadian fashion, it’s also about endorsing Canadian cultural sovereignty.” The organization hopes to underpin a local economy by connecting designers to buyers and editors — many of who sit on the CAFA jury — and handing them flashy accolades to make their presence known to international markets.
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To select this year’s CAFA nominees, a nominating committee deliberated the various categories and put forth a shortlist, which a separate jury — consisting of 22 judges ranging from editors to TV personalities — then narrowed down. Among the evening’s notable nominees in attendance will be Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha, DSquared2 designers Dean and Dan Caten and Jeanne Beker, the former Fashion Television host and CAFA judge who will receive the 2014 Vanguard Award, which comes after her recent naming to the Order of Canada.
The awards ceremony is the latest in a recent wave of support for Canadian designers, which range from the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI)’s longtime New Labels competition, now with a generous cash prize courtesy of philanthropist Suzanne Rogers, as well as the Mercedes-Benz Start Up show during Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week.”We understand there’s only a certain amount of density here compared to other parts of the world,” said Vicky Milner, managing director of CAFA. “If we can help a designer patch that national and international spotlight, they have a better chance at breaking through other markets that they wouldn’t have before.”
The CAFAs don’t plan to compete against other supportive fashion platforms, but work in tandem with them, since the funds raised from the gala and after-party will be donated to both TFI and the Ontario College of Art and Design, which houses many Canadian designers-in-training. In the case of CAFA’s Emerging Talent Award, which is eligible for self-nomination, there is even a $10,000 prize up for grabs – giving designers across Canada the opportunity to bypass inflated startup costs by submitting a business plan, lookbook and reference letter for consideration.
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Canadian chic: Inaugural CAFA awards shine spotlight on homegrown fashion industry Canadian chic: Inaugural CAFA awards shine spotlight on homegrown fashion industry Reviewed by Glam Treat on 09:48:00 Rating: 5

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