In-depth preview: Digital Fashion Week Montréal, March 2017

July 29, 2016

With extensive recent changes in Canada’s fashion landscape—including cancellation of Toronto’s fashion week in early July—there was a certain sense of excitement felt across the industry after the announcement of upcoming Digital Fashion Week Montréal.

Although the idea is not new to the industry (a similar concept exists in Singapore and Thailand, in collaboration with the British Fashion Council), it is unique and first-of-its-kind to Canada.

Few details were released earlier this week, so FAJO got in touch with the head organizer and key sponsors of the event to find out how and why it was created, and what can be expected during its unveiling in March 2017, in conjunction with the 375th anniversary of the city of Montréal.

The story behind it

Digital Fashion Week Montréal was created by Melanie Trevett, a retailer and fashion buyer by trade. Trevett has a home in England, but decided to start the event in Canada because of her passion and belief in craftsmanship of local designers. She currently flies back-and-forth between the two countries to make her idea come to life.

Melanie Trevett_ ©Candice Pantin (1 of 2)

Melanie Trevett.

Everything started in an almost serendipitous kind of way. Trevett began opening fashion stores about 15 years ago and, in 2004, unveiled her own boutique in London. She says she travelled extensively during that time and also did a column in The Drapers’ Record (now known as Drapers), where she wrote about how every item in her store was very different. Following the release of that story, she got a call from the Quebec delegation. They suggested she should go to Montréal, and so she headed there about two years later. Trevett recalls returning with jeans and jewelry by several Canadian brands, and says she was very impressed by how quickly they sold at her store.

Fast forward to a few years later, when Trevett transitioned into a fashion consultant role, working on various projects, including events that were part of London Fashion Week and London’s International Fashion Showcase. She started coming back to Quebec on a more regular basis and, from her home in Surrey, U.K., dreamed up the idea of a digital fashion week in Montréal.

“There is a lack of commercial acumen in this country,” she says in reference to the fashion industry in Canada. “It’s interesting because I find that designers in Toronto are business-savvy but not avant-garde, and it’s the opposite in Montréal. We need something very different in Canada.”

“London is an absolute animal when it comes to fashion. We need to create something similar here.”

Participating designers

Although the event is still in the “negotiation stage” for certain partnerships, and many logistics will be finalized in the next few months, Trevett’s plan is to showcase 25 designers from various cities, including Toronto, Montréal, Calgary and Vancouver.

At this time, participation will be by invitation only, extended to a mix of established and emerging designers.

The format of the event

“We will engage consumers with the product and the technology,” says Trevett. “We will stream the event live to a global audience. For example, the plan is to have several cameras on the shows, so viewers can view details on clothing, shoes, accessories and so on.”

“There will be lots of screens, exhibition spaces, runway shows, networking opportunities and fashion-on-film activations. Fashion should be fun, so we will have a lot of really fun activations.”

“The location of the event is being finalized too, but I can confirm that it will be held at a well-known space in the city.”

The key highlight

Trevett wants to make sure the designers are not charged, and says she is aiming to cover all costs through partnerships.

She adds that one of the most important things for her and the organizers is to have international buyers in the audience.

“There is no point in doing a show if they aren’t going to be there,” she says. “We are going to give a package to international buyers to come here. This will be assisted by our partners.

“We will manage the agendas for each buyer. We will do research and pitch them what is good for their stores. They will each have an assistant. We want buyers to pre-order, and we also want to give them entry bracelets, so we could track which showrooms they went to. This will help us assess the results of the event afterwards.”

Promotional and modelling partnership

Dulcedo Management will be one of DFWM’s partners. With offices in Montréal and Toronto, Dulcedo is a talent management firm, specializing in fashion and advertising with model, artist, celebrity, influencer and content-creator divisions.

Milad Sahafzadeh, Dulcedo’s co-founder and president, says that his company will be in charge of social media campaigns, influencer marketing and digital activations at the event.

Milad Sahafzadeh.

Milad Sahafzadeh.

“There is a lot of freedom and possibility with this event to put the spotlight on Canadian designers, who may not be able to travel abroad,” he says. “For example, some designers may end up selling their work really well in other countries, as opposed to the response they may be getting at home.

“We want to do something exciting that will attract international attention.”

The beauty elements—hairstyles, make-up and nail designs

Several international brands—including Maybelline New York, Redken 5th Avenue NYC and essie—have joined DFWM as official sponsors.

Redken’s team will be creating hair styles for all looks at the event.

“Partnering with Digital Fashion Week is a great way for us to embrace our strong connection to fashion,” says Liora Bensoussan, marketing manager at Redken Canada. “This new fashion week … is taking into consideration the social impact that the digital world has had on fashion. This makes it a much more interesting and relevant forum to showcase Canadian creativity.”

“As major supporters of the Canadian fashion industry over the years, this association, which marries fashion and technology, is a natural step deeper into the world of trends and fashion for Maybelline New York and Essie,” says Genevieve Ringuet, communications manager for Maybelline and Essie, with regards to their partnership with DFWM.

“[The event] will provide a platform for Canadian fashion to be seen all over the globe, which is extremely powerful and very exciting for our local talent. Maybelline New York will do the make-up backstage. Every look you see will be created by Grace Lee, our head make-up artist.

Grace Lee in action.

Grace Lee in action.

“Essie will be doing nails backstage. Every look you will see during presentations and runways will be created by our lead nail artist Rita Remark with a team of nail techs.”

Upcoming developments and more

Trevett says that she is in the process of signing up a major Canadian designer who is based abroad. She adds that another big announcement will be made in October 2016.

The digital element is becoming increasingly central to retail sales and consumer behaviour. A recent report by Deloitte stated that “whether they want to admit it or not, Canadian retailers are increasingly competing in a global marketplace. They need to serve Canadian consumers the way those consumers want and expect to be served, or they risk losing them to global competitors that offer more choice.”

“Incorporating digital is important in the pre-purchase phase,” says the report, “because there is a strong multiplier effect—that is, the interaction of both digital and traditional channels stimulates greater sales and growth.”

The next eight months signal further change, as the fashion industry in Canada continues to evolve.

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By Hannah Yakobi
Photography by Candice Pantin, Clement Berrin and courtesy of Digital Fashion Week Montréal, Essie and Maybelline

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