by Elisa Zucconi

Last year, when Toronto Women’s Fashion Women’sWeek abruptly ended, a somber fog clouded the city and female fashion-lovers were flooded with disappointment. Torontonians knew that a dedication week to fashion belonged in their city, but the empty void that was left alluded to no light at the end of the tunnel. Creatives and fashionistas alike all waited with bated breath: when would the celebration of fashion and design return to Canada’s electric hub?

Enter, Jeff Rustia.

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“I never imagined that one day we would have the opportunity to produce the women’s fashion week in Toronto. Last July, […] IMG unexpectedly closed the doors and cancelled TFW (Toronto Fashion Week).  At the time, many key figures in our fashion community, including Canadian designers approached me and our Advisory Board to consider launching a platform for women’s wear, similar to the winning formula of TOM*. As you know, TOM*s heart and commitment has always been for the Canadian fashion community. It only seemed natural to extend our current position to create an opportunity to re-champion women’s wear and its designers to show the world that Toronto is a very talented, global city that truly supports fashion.”

In true Canadian fashion, Jeff Rustia and his Advisory Board focused on partnership and collaboration and successfully brought the first-ever Toronto Women’s Fashion Week (TWFW) to Toronto’s Waterworks.

But giving birth to a whole new future of Canadian fashion and sustaining its fire is no easy task. Thankfully, Jeff’s past experience with the wildly successful Toronto Men’s Fashion Week combined with his pure love of Canadian talent is exactly what Toronto needed.

“As a proud Torontonian, and a lover of Canadian fashion, I launched Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, aptly called, TOM*, three years ago, to create a platform that would spotlight and celebrate Canadian […] men’s fashion. TOM* was born out of love, a pure love for Canadian fashion, a love for our city and country, and also a deep love and commitment to our fashion community and to supporting Canada’s next generation of emerging talent.”

That’s exactly what the new Toronto Women’s Fashion Week is aiming to do: celebrate our country through a love and commitment to the Canadian fashion community; past, present and future.

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Guess what? Rustia wants you to know you’re invited.

Fashion weeks are typically open to industry and media…but with the new TWFW concept, all are welcome.

“I have always believed in democratizing fashion week, and making it accessible to the public, who are ultimately the end consumers of fashion. Every season, the consumer demand[ed] tickets and access, and in return the designers received more awareness, and brand recognition. Today, we’ve taken that idea to the next level[…], we live stream the fashion shows to expand viewership and increase exposure. This past season of Toronto Women’s Fashion Week, with over 11,300 visitors to the runway presentations alone, the ratio was 46% industry to 54% consumers.

TWFW’s resurgence surprised us almost as much as the Leafs in the playoffs, but with this love affair-expect it to stick around. What gives this one long-term potential? It’s not just an event within the city, it’s a city event, and with a city like Toronto there’s a lot of love to go around.

“We partnered with the City of Toronto, Downtown Yonge BIA, Toronto Tourism, and many community partners to help us bring a much-deserved global spotlight on Toronto as a hub and portal for fashion, creativity and talent.”

So where can we expect to see Toronto and the Canadian fashion landscape in the next few years?

In a few words, everywhere.

“ For both TW and the Canadian fashion industry to grow, we must invest in partnerships across […] our fashion community and all the various sectors including the designers, industry, buyers, media and of course the consumer

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You’ll see sprinkles of Canadian fashion and TW all over thanks to their collaboration with fashion organizations such as TFI, the world’s first fashion incubator, CANIFFF (Canadian International Fashion Film Festival), Eco Fashion Week, Eco Sessions, Cabinet Ephemere, CCMQ Conseil des createurs de mode du Quebec, Fashion Takes Action and more.

“Collaboration is key, and we are doing just that at TW” •

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JEFF RUSTIA

Jeff Rustia is the Executive Director & Founder of TOM* Toronto Men’s Fashion Week, and TW Toronto Women’s Fashion Week, two of the country’s leading fashion initiatives committed to promoting, nurturing and supporting Canada’s most influential designers and the next generation of emerging talent. Rustia brings to his role, a wide breadth of knowledge and experience that spans over 25 years in fashion, production, marketing, creative direction, and television. His career dates back to the launch of the first music channel of Asia, Channel V, (formerly MTV) to 134 million households, producing shows such as Asia’s first Fashion Police. He was also the creative force behind the launch of HBO and Cinemax (Time Warner) in Asia. In Toronto, he was the Creative Director and Head of Marketing for 2 CBC International networks. He also hosted his own Fashion television program on Canadian network, BPM: TV. He created TOM* in 2013, now recognized as the 8th men’s fashion week in the world, and the most influential platform for menswear in Canada. He launched TW in 2017, a modern, relevant, high tech, consumer-driven fashion week devoted solely to champion women’s wear in the country.

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