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Despite initial skepticism, Caitlin Agnew finds industry insiders finally seem happy with Toronto Fashion Week

In July 2016, when it was announced that the owner of Toronto Fashion Week, IMG, would no longer be producing the event, the industry's reaction was a mix of skepticism and hope for a brighter future. That optimism got a boost last December when Peter Freed, president of Freed Developments, announced the purchase of TFW and began making plans to relocate it to the city's Yorkville neighbourhood and move up its timing to coincide with the start of the Toronto International Film Festival.

But this being Toronto – and fashion – that initial skepticism still lingered when the shows kicked off on Sept. 5. Following three days of catwalk presentations featuring Canadian labels and talks spotlighting international luminaries including designer Jean Paul Gaultier, the feedback has been positive. Here is what some of Canada's fashion insiders thought about the Spring 2018 season:

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Bernadette Morra, editor and Globe Style contributor

"Toronto Fashion Week belongs in Yorkville. It's where indie designer boutiques first started to sprout in the sixties, where local couturiers set up houses in the seventies, and where international luxury brands began to invest in the eighties. It's the undisputed heart of fashion in Toronto. I love the fact that a large video screen outside the tent played snippets from the runways and flashed the names of the designers showing. If anyone walking by wasn't familiar with Lucian Matis or Hayley Elsaesser before TFW, they must be now. And if that sparks them to seek out their designs online, even better. Either way, the Canadian fashion community benefits from exposure to a sophisticated audience of Yorkville shoppers and residents."

Vicky Milner, president of the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards

"I think the new Toronto Fashion Week has brought exciting content and cultural programming, allowing a greater audience to attend and take part. Inviting international names raises the awareness and profile of the event and casts a larger spotlight on participating designers. I'm eager to see if and how that will impact their business. It was great to see some new faces at this year's event – hailing from many different industries – coming together to support our fashion community. I hope that in seasons to come Toronto Fashion Week can build on their successes to create an event that resonates with industry and consumers on a local and international level."

José Manuel St -Jacques and Simon Bélanger, designers at Unttld

"First of all, the relocation to Yorkville is a really good idea because you're really in the heart of luxury here in Toronto. It's where the customers are and the people who are interested in fashion and buy it are. Jean Paul Gaultier was there, and that's another great thing – to get international headliners here so that from their light we can also shine outwards and get more international visibility that way."

Richard Simons, co-owner and vice president of merchandising at Simons

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"Our customers love supporting local Canadian designers and they expect this from Simons. So, I need to be here. You never know when you are going to discover the next big thing, you have to be out there looking for it – it's not going to come to you. The new Toronto Fashion Week had a very intimate feel and was much more personable in its new tented location in the middle of Yorkville Avenue. Canada needs this type of event to showcase our designers. Going forward I would like to see the fashion community come together from across the country to truly collaborate with the goal of building a reputation and style that is unique to our Canadian culture. We need to do this and we owe it to the artistic community; look at other countries such as Japan and Korea who have been attracting a lot of attention lately in the world of fashion and design."

Suzanne Cohon, fashion, arts, and cultural ambassador at Toronto Fashion Week

"This season we were excited, yet nervous to share our vision. In receiving such an overwhelmingly positive response, we know that our instincts were right. To have fashion week right in the heart of the city's fashion capital was extremely exciting for our attendees and designers. That being the case, we're going to continue to build our international programming and continue to work hand in hand with our top Canadian designers to curate a selection of the very best shows for our attendees."

THIS WEEK'S STYLE HAPPENINGS

  • Simons has a new collaboration with Italian hiking boot brand Fracap, a collection of two styles of boots for men. Launching in-store and online Sept. 15, one style is black calf leather with a white sole while the other is dark brown calf leather with a beige sole, and each retail for $450. For more information, visit simons.ca.
  • To celebrate London Fashion Week, ecommerce site Matches is launching a new section of designers called “The Innovators.” Under the directiion of buying director Natalie Kingham, the category features London-based brands including Art School, Matty Bovan, Claire Barrow and Paula Knorr, all who have produced exclusive collections for the site. For more information, visit matchesfashion.com.
  • Toronto shoppers have another reason to visit CF Toronto Eaton Centre: the CF Bubbly Bar. Inspired by the champagne bars of London and Italy, guests will be able to sip champagne, wine, cocktails or beer while enjoying small bites including crostini, salumi and cannoli at the downtown mall. Hosted in partnership with Mercatto restaurants, the Bubbly Bar will be open Sept. 15 and 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit cfshops.com.
  • Hungarian skincare brand Omorovicza is hosting a pop-up spa this weekend in Toronto. Held at the Pink Tartan flagship (77 Yorkville Ave.) on Sept. 15 and 16, the three 60-minute treatment options include the Deep Cleansing and Pore Refining Signature Facial, the Illuminating Facial or the Gold Hydralifting Facial. Each costs $50, and the price is redeemable for Omorovicza product. For more information, call 416-967-7700.
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