Photo by Miss Sly.
If it works for shopping, it works for us: this is a pop-up series on the future (or is there a future?) of fashion in our city. Every Wednesday from now until we get bored, we’ll log time with a new face on the local style scene: someone who’s fresh, and not Joe, because there’s got to be more to Toronto than the Mimrans.
We’re not knocking Club Monaco or its super-cute younger sibling line. But why is a grocery store’s house brand of pre-packaged prep consistently the biggest show at LG Fashion Week? When the most famous Canadian names, like Erdem and Jeremy Laing, show (and sell) in London and New York, should we feel patriotic or ashamed—and resolved to stem the tide of leaking talent? Will Toronto live up to its boasts and become an international capital of catwalk cool, or remain too conservative to invest in the rare Ryerson grad who belongs to the avant guard?
For our first set of answers, we pop-quizzed the crown winner at TFI New Labels last month, Faren Tami. Her Fall 2009 Futurology collection—a careful, refined vision in sustainable silk—makes her, if not a certified seer, certainly a new name to seek out. Faren’s been sketching princess dresses since age 10 and shopping Queen Street since 2001; now, she tells us to go to Bloor West and believe in “the new New York.”
Torontoist: What are you wearing right now?
Faren Tami: A cute black cotton shirt-dress with a grey western-inspired belt, a silver necklace—it was featured in the Elle show—black lamé tights and Converse knee-high boots. It’s a pretty rock‘n’roll outfit for a weekday, but it works for me and my mood.
What’s the most stylish street in Toronto?
I usually walk down Queen West West, where you can find all the little boutiques from local designers. Ossington Ave is another hip and happening place to be. Try walking up to Bloor just west of Ossington to Freedom Clothing Collective, where you’ll be able to buy my clothes this fall.
How long have you lived here?
I moved to Toronto to go to Ryerson University, so I guess that makes it eight years ago. Wow, eight years already! How time flies in this city.
In the TFI New Labels Competition, your winning collection—congratulations!—was titled Futurology. If we understand correctly,that’s the science (or, perhaps, art) of predicting possible worlds. What possibilities do you see for Toronto fashion?
I see Toronto becoming the next New York—a place to find new emerging talent. In fact, we have some big names in fashion that are based here in Toronto, like David Dixon, Brain Bailey, Jeremy Laing, Comrags, Alfred Sung, Joseph Mimran. These are all great examples of the amazing talent this city already has. I think we are well on our way to New York status.
If your foresight’s 20/20, tell me about Toronto in 2020. What will people be wearing? How will the city look?
There’s a general idea of the future being this ultra-technological world with spaceships and robots, where we will all be wearing the same silver suit and meals would be reduced to a small pill. However, I see the Toronto in 2020 as a place that is greener, more environmentally conscious, and all about basics. The fashion will be about the sustainable qualities—how a piece can be wearable and transformable.
Do you think that, in order to “make it” internationally, fashion designers have to leave Toronto for New York or London?
No. I think Toronto has so many great opportunities for designers. You just have to find them, or be a leader and create those opportunities!
What about you? Would you leave?
Yes, if the opportunity arose, but for now Toronto is where I need to be.
If you did leave, where would you go?
I’ve always had aspirations of moving to Florence, Italy, to study fashion and learn the language. If or when that ever happens I would always come back to Toronto—it’s my home.