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FAT and Rchive bring the excitement back to Toronto’s fashion week

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Toronto’s unofficial fashion week just got a little bigger.  This spring/summer season, the up-and-coming fashion collective, Rchive joined the city’s roster of fashion week event organizers.

TOFW by Rchive is the first newcomer to the fashion scene since the official Toronto Fashion Week went on hiatus in 2020.

“In order to best support the needs of the fashion community here in Canada, we’ve made the very difficult decision to pause production of our biannual event,” wrote Toronto Fashion Week in an Instagram post shared on January 14th, 2020.

Ever since, Fashion Art Toronto (FAT) has become the city’s frontrunner and Toronto’s longest-standing fashion week event.

This season, fashion lovers had the choice to attend Rchive in the abandoned Lower Bay Street subway station or FAT—held at Black Creek Assembly for the third season in a row.

fashion art torontoFounded in 2005, Fashion Art Toronto from its inception has aimed to “highlight diversity, body positivity and different cultural backgrounds and expressions around fashion,” according to founder Vanja Vasic.

“We are trying to discover the identity of Canadian fashion because it’s still young and we’re not like Paris or New York where we’ve had a long history,” says Vasic.

fashion art torontoFAT editorial director, Astrid Superstar says, “FAT really represents the ferocity that Torontonians have for something different. I love that FAT gives us all the space to express ourselves and be the freaks that we are.”

@blogto @prescribedshelter with their @FASHION ART TORONTO runway show💫 #fashion #fashiontiktok #fashionweek #fashionweektoronto #fashionarttoronto #torontoevents #torontoontario #torontocanada #torontotiktok #tiktoktoronto 📹: @fareen ♬ original sound – blogTO

“Everything is about community and that really is what sets [FAT] apart from a lot of the fashion weeks that we see in New York, Milan, London. We are a community-first type of event and organization and you really feel like you’re a part of the FAT family,” says FAT co-producer Liam Colbourne.

Four-time FAT model Amelia Jesseau echoes this point, “The best part about working with FAT is that it is very communal. You see a lot of similar faces each year. It’s like summer camp or school.”

fashion art torontoWhile FAT is a champion of diversity and has managed to build a tight-knit, inclusive community, Rchive’s support of emerging talent is unrivalled.

“Rchive is really blessing the young people such as myself. I don’t have two grand to spend on FAT,” explains 20 year-old Costa Dumitras, half of the fashion brand Krater.

rchive torontoRchive’s accessibility to up-and-comers is intentional, explains Rchive co-founder, Ion Sobaliu.

“The city needed a new stage for Toronto Fashion Week. There’s lots of designers that we personally knew that didn’t get a chance to showcase their collections and be on the big stage so we decided to create that stage for them.”

rchive torontoRchive attendee Kai Muyoboke notes, “For a regular Toronto kid who’s 19, 20, this is a unique experience to have a show with people they know in it, designers they know.”

rchive torontoEach organizer occupies a unique corner of the fashion community, however they both aim to elevate Toronto fashion as a whole. “We want to showcase what Toronto and Canada is as a fashion hub and we want to make it a fashion hub,” says Vasic on FAT.

Sadaf Emami, Rchive’s other co-founder, believes the introduction of additional platforms is the key to amplifying Toronto fashion.

rchive toronto“In order to have a fashion week there needs to be more than one stage. You look at Paris Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, or London Fashion Week, the entire city is a fashion week stage. There’s multiple stages, multiple shows, multiple organizations,” says Emami.

@blogto Safi Creatives was the first show to kick off @RCHIVE’s three day fashion event at Toronto’s Lower Bay Subway Station🚊 #TOFW #RCHIV #fashion #fashionweektoronto #fashionweek #runway #runwayshow #creatives #torontocreatives #subway #ttc #subwaystation #toronto #torontoontario #torontocanada #torontoevents #torontotiktok #tiktoktoronto 📹: @Briana ♬ original sound – blogTO

Sobaliu adds, “The more stages we have the more people will wake up to it and come out. We’re trying to put Toronto on the map. It’s a large community here, it just needs the right place and the right time and it’s here and now.”

Both FAT and Rchive recognize that competition is natural. “I think it is a wonderful part of the ecosystem of Toronto. We don’t have a monopoly on fashion week, but nobody does it like FAT,” says Colbourne.

fashion art toronto“It’s a space where anyone can do whatever they want. Fashion Art Toronto also started beside another major fashion week,” Vasic concurs.

“[FAT is] all Toronto had for the longest time. A little friendly competition only brings greater things. The creative people in the city now have two options,” says Emami.

fashion art torontoToronto’s fashion community is optimistic about the promise that Rchive is heralding. “I hope that we can establish this as Toronto’s Fashion Week and not just one event,” says Superstar.

fashion art toronto“I think [Toronto’s fashion scene] is being reborn again and I’m so honoured to be [a part of] the first organization to start this initiative again. I hope in the near future we see the biggest fashion week we’ve ever seen with multiple stages and everybody in the city involved,” enthused Emami.

Vasic says there has not been a line of communication between FAT and Rchive, but FAT is open to collaborating in the future.

fashion art toronto“Unfortunately we just kind of heard about it and nobody communicated with us, but we are always open to collaboration,” she explains. “They want to program with us and that’s fabulous,” adds Colbourne.

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