Archival Toronto: a Canadian fashion gem with a global focus

December 31, 2019

The fashion landscape is changing.

All over the world, runway shows are presented in new formats, clothing is increasingly sold directly off the catwalk, and the concept of style is continuously becoming more global and accessible. Yet, certain brands continue to lead the market and stand out as iconic.

In Canada, one company is shining the spotlight on high-end designer brands in a truly innovative way. Archival Toronto, which is based in Toronto, is a fashion events start-up that creates unique archives, vintage-focused pop-up shops, experiences and content. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind experience unlike anything else in the country, then their events should be on your radar. For example, in the last two years, Archival screened two incredible documentaries, for the first time in Canada: one – about the iconic Yves Saint Laurent (this film was actually banned around the world for many years), and another about the innovative Martin Margiela.

A photobooth set-up at the Yves Saint Laurent documentary screening in Toronto.

The company is the brainchild of Carl Chiang and Gloria Pham, who met a couple of years ago. They literally came up with the idea of Archival in a conference room at Ryerson University, where Chiang was studying marketing and Pham was studying business. And they never looked back. Archival Toronto was officially born in May 2017.

“We wanted to create something really different,” says Chiang. “That’s why we focus on showcasing documentaries too. We are a fashion events company, but we are trying to focus on creating a lot of cultural events, not just pop-ups. We look for things that are obscure but are high-end fashion. If it’s a documentary that hasn’t shown around the world–or at least hasn’t been seen by many people– but it’s an interesting subject matter, then that would be something we would want to bring to Toronto.”

Gloria Pham (left), Carl Chiang (centre) and Helen Chen at the Archival Toronto pop-up last summer.

Canadian fashion market is still considered relatively emerging around the world, so Chiang and Pham’s endeavour is truly different. When asked how the big brands reacted to having their films shown in Canada, Chiang says they were often surprised.

“The events were so well- received though,” adds Pham. “We have sold out most of the screenings, so it’s great to see the interest. We’ve had line-ups, and that is very encouraging to see, as it motivates us to keep doing this more.”

Archival’s Margiela screening was also incredibly popular, with a long line-up into the movie theater in east-end Toronto.

Archival’s fashion pop-ups and sales are also popular. They feature high-end clothing that Chiang and Pham source online, or through their contacts and collectors.

With several events being put up every year, 2020 looks like another exciting phase in Archival’s future!

You can follow Archival Toronto on Instagram for latest news and future event updates.

Photography by Hannah Yakobi and courtesy of Archival Toronto.


Story by Hannah Yakobi

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