I know plenty of SH readers aren’t Canadian, so I apologize in advance for the Toronto-centric (or Canada-centric) theme of this discussion, but broader themes do exist, I promise.
A week or two ago I went to a fashion event called Match Made in HEL. HEL is the airport code for Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, but, in the grand scheme of the Divine Comedy, we’re talking about something more like HVN, for this was a runway show on an actual runway.
Meta af, models sashayed out of the cabin of an Airbus A350, which had just arrived from Singapore hours before, onto a proper runway, in front of the likes of Thomas Tait, Tuomas Laitinen, and Lou Stoppard.
Designers included Henrik Vibskov (Denmark), Deadstock by Heikki Salonen (Helsinki/Paris), Bora Aksu (London), Sankuanz by Zhe Shangguan (China), HAAL by Anders Haal (Sweden), Hyein Seo (Korea), and John Lawrence Sullivan by Arashi Yanagawa (Japan).
It was precisely the kind of outré event fashion is known for, and openly celebrates. Exclusive, elaborate, and wildly creative.
But when was the last time we saw something like that in Canada? Why do labels persist to ignore the fact that Toronto is one of the largest, richest, and most vibrant metropoleis in the world?
Is it because we’re accustomed to it, so they just keep plugging on? Like hardcover book prices (19.99USD is just not 37.95CAD, ffs). If it ain’t broke…
When Hermés launched on Bloor they had a launch event budget of 5000$. What the fuck can you even buy at Hermés for $5000? A beach tote? A shoe? Note the lack of plurality.
Sure, Powerball is dope, but if you went to Union Square with 100 free passes to MOMA and one of LL Cool J’s old boomboxes you’d get roughly the same thing. Conceptually, albeit not sartorially.
And that Armani [City Frames] party at the top of the CN Tower was pretty legit, even if Anthony Mackie did keep accidentally spitting on me in the elevator. But where was the inspiration? That sort of event requires budget, but not creativity.
I’m not firing shots at Canada’s creative scene. There’s a million amazing things happening all the time. I’m talking about major events, and specifically about international lifestyle brands who think it’s enough to just plunk a shop down in Yorkville and head back to Deauville.
Once, in Beijing, I went to a Dior runway show thrown in the as-yet-unfinished swimming pool of a nascent condo building. Models strutted down an extra long and wide diving board, show viewers hung in the unfilled pool, and VIPs sat on lifeguard chairs pool-side.
Once, in Milan, I saw a guerrilla runway show where models literally floated on their backs down a body of water (can’t remember at all which), as passerby gawked. That doesn’t take much. Some strategically placed buoyancy devices and some waterproofing. Done.
Hell, a couple weeks ago Rick Ross had a fried chicken and karaoke party in the back room of a sneaker shop in the LES. And gave out chicken wing Jesus pieces to some of the guests. I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with it, but I’ll definitely remember that party. And that Rick Ross apparently owns shares in Wingstop.
So where’s that stuff in Toronto? Canadians are clever, artistic, open-minded, and, dare I say it, cosmopolitan. Ever met anyone at the Beacs that hasn’t been to Europe? I haven’t. But I would have gotten a different answer at the vernissage I went to in Bushwick this weekend.
This mentality seems best summed up by (surprise, surprise), Drake, when he said:
“I gotta get on the bus and get back on the road
Get what I can out the country
And then I just get on the jet and go back to the cold”
Cute, sure, and a little hit of poutine for the stomachs of our collective superiority complex, but it does elucidate the point somewhat. That mentality is prevalent. Like Steve Martin on 30 Rock. Remember? “You’ll love Toronto. It’s like New York, but without all the stuff.”
Where’s our stuff?
Chanel does a ski collection, so why not have the Canadian ski team ‘model’ it down the mountain, and use the half-pipe as the seating arena?
Petra Collins is from Toronto, so where’s the dreamy, sepia-toned fashion editorial in Trinity Bellwoods, Dazed?
I have plenty of ideas better than those, and so do sooo many of my contemporaries. Like the cats who run SH, for example. Drop a line. And a cheque.
Sooner or later, someone’s going to realize that this market is huge, and none of us will feel bad for those who missed out. The Canadian dollar may be weak compared to the Euro, but there’s billions of them.