After 17 years, the plug was pulled on Toronto Fashion Week (TFW). The last three events were held in collaboration with the Canadian arm of events giant IMG.
The reason for the shutdown was purely practical – it was not generating enough money.
Although Toronto might not appear at the top of the list of iconic fashion capitals, it is a large metropolis in terms of population, essentially tied with greater Chicago as the third largest in North America – each region having more than nine million inhabitants. Toronto is a comparatively old city, with a fashion industry that dates back to the fur trade of the sixteenth century.
Deploying New Technologies
The demise of Toronto Fashion Week draws attention to the changing dynamics of fashion marketing globally. Other cities like Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Dubai are now making their mark in the industry, becoming fashion capitals in their own right, catering to local populations of fashion-conscious consumers, and using social media to expand their influence worldwide.
To compete with the established shows in Milan and Paris, aggressive young designers are making use of newer technologies and trends to expose their clothing lines. These include pop-up stores, social media memes, and innovative co-branding exercises with other companies.
Fashion weeks are enormous in size and are expensive to execute. Like any business, they must show a significant return to stay viable. Design houses must support their investment by not only creating designs that people will find appealing, but by also making them available quickly.
Innovating New Promotional Method
A new technique called see-now-buy-now is becoming a wedge issue. Some designers refuse to embrace it, considering it an insult to the craft. Others are taking full advantage of their deep pockets to prepare products for immediate sale. Still other designers are finding mid grounds, creating limited runs of a representative selection of their show designs.
Back at their physical stores and boutiques, these same designers are wrestling with new technologies for scalable clienteling. With personalized, data-driven interactions – hybrids that include mobile web along with assistance from engaged floor staff – they're consistently returning greater conversion numbers than the easier, static sales process of earlier decades.
The demise of the Toronto Fashion Week may be portentous of other things to come. There is no lack of consumers in the Toronto area, and the events themselves were always well managed. It's simply that times are changing.
Large scale, in-person events are giving way to more individualized interactions that are not limited by location or time, but continue at the customer's pace.
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