Every season, the fashion industry and their epicentres manage to thrill spectators with beautiful fashion shows and clothing designed to knock our socks off. New York, London, Paris and Milan have all successfully gained recognition for hosting the top four fashion weeks in the world (Helmer, 2017), a reputation which is not easy to obtain. Being of very high prestige, these massive events manage to attract celebrities, buyers, media and press, tourists and designers who come to see everything from runway shows, to stationary presentations, to streetwear-focused bloggers.
This results in enormous economic benefits for the cities and brands showcased. With all the money spent and gained from the fashion shows, tourism and complementary events (i.e. after parties and exclusive media dinners), as well as the jobs that these generate, it’s safe to say that cities (and countries) with prestigious Fashion Weeks are often more than satisfied by the end of them.
On that note, it’s not very surprising that Toronto is trying to hop on that wagon by setting up its own fashion week festivities, to showcase Canadian designers and brands. One of the brands at this season’s Toronto Men’s Fashion Week (TOM*) is a Canadian brand by the name Hip & Bone which was founded in 2010 by Carlos Fogelman.
According to their website, “Hip & Bone revives the modern man’s wardrobe with an array of redefined basics. Designed to endure changing tastes and fashions, Hip & Bone fuses luxurious materials with relaxed silhouettes to be enjoyed in an everyday setting” (Fogelman, 2017). And by looking at its VISION SS’18 collection (G.V., 2017), that is completely true about the brand. Its aesthetic is youthful and modern, yet timeless and very well crafted; focusing on items such as leather jackets, basic t-shirts and sweaters, hoodies and neutrally coloured pants and shorts. All made of what are clearly very high quality materials that have been tailored beautifully, the brand definitely has a very specific aesthetic.
The problem, however, is that one of the main headliners of Toronto Men’s Fashion Week should be able to generate more excitement than Hip&Bone did. It’s headliners also need to be showing clothes we haven’t seen before. TOM* needs brands who are willing to push fashion boundaries, especially when it comes to menswear, a part of the global fashion market that is currently underserved. With celebrities like Jaden Smith, Pharrell Williams, Jared Leto, Harry Styles and A$AP Rocky pushing the boundaries of stereotypical male fashion, and subsequently making it “okay” for dudes to take an interest in what they wear, the fashion industry as a whole needs to keep up.
Designers need to realize that sticking with what feels comfortable is a very easy way to become completely obsolete, and if Toronto really wants to succeed in its mission at becoming on of the world’s epicentres of fashion, TOM* needs to be anything but boring.
In short: yes, streetwear basics are a crowd pleaser, and clearly Hip&Bone has that down to a science. But if Canadian designers want to be internationally renowned for their work, and we want fashion industry heavy-weights to feel like their trip here was worth it, they are going to have to be bolder than Hip&Bone was this past season.