ASHTIANI is an emerging, award-winning, luxury fashion brand that, since it’s inception in 2011, showcased four distinctive and on-brand collections that deserve international praise. In contrast, during the SS 2013 Toronto Fashion Week, ASHTIANI’s collection was presented to a select few on one of the small runways. Despite the space limitation and lack of influential eyes, ASHTIANI’s SS2013 collection got some of this year’s best reviews by Evan Biddell of The Star calling the designer “truly one of the undiscovered gems of the Toronto Fashion Week”. The Globe’s Deirdre Kelly named Golnaz Ashtiani “as the one-to-watch”. Although the designer has been featured in mags and blogs, overall, not many fashionistas, bloggers or editors truly rave about it, not to mention the common Canadian.
Although marketing and PR teams are of vital importance to grow and expand a label, the costs associated with them are sky-high and, most of the time, unaffordable for emerging designers. As such, for the first few years, just like in every start-up, the owner is the head chef and the bottle washer. Point in case, Bojana Sentaler, the Creative Director behind Toronto-based SENTALER luxury coats, is just beginning to expand her one-person shop after three years being in business and achieving doubling revenue year after year!
Of course, part of the responsibility of becoming a publicly notorious fashion house, brand or label is that of the designer. But, the designer’s true calling lies in creating the life-style that the rest of us envision.
Designers are visionaries, first and foremost. Twice a year, they create and showcase a direction in style and fashion for the rest of us, before we even realize it’s what we want. I believe that’s tough enough.
Radio and TV stations in Canada must broadcast a certain percentage of Canadian Content, as defined in the CRTC regulations. According to Fraser Institute, an independent Canadian research and educational organization, annual broadcast content quota on Canadian TV stations must consist of a whopping 60% Canadian programming, and at least 50% of prime-time programming (6:00 pm to midnight). For radio, MAPL regulations require 40% Canadian Content. Although such policies are a burden and a cure, supporting Canadian talent is important and beneficial for the talent, and, at the very least, it’s also good for the rest of us from the entrepreneurial and economic perspective.
I can’t help but wonder why don’t Canadian personalities, hosts and other public figures promote Canadian fashion designers to help, globally, showcase our talent? Canadian magazines should consistently and independently feature Canadian designers and fashion. This would greatly help the designers grow and remain Canadian. MARK FAST, a Winnipeg-born designer who made knit wear internationally popular as well as sexy and racy, has been based in London since he started his label. Mark, studied in Europe, made his connections there and it makes perfect sense to start-up shop there. DAVID DIXON, somewhat of a Canadian fashion veteran, was quoted in a March 2012 article on CBC, stating that “Over the past few years, Canada has become a little hot spot, and a lot of these designers … Jeremy Laing, Erdem — even though [they’re] not based here — still represent Canada.” They certainly represent Canada but does Canada support and assist in representing them as much as, say, London or New York? Golnaz Ashtiani, graduated from London College of Fashion and moved to Toronto. A brilliant talent that we can only hope will stay in Canada.
I would love to challenge Canadian editors, stylists, bloggers, self-proclaimed fashionistas and PR professionals to continuously search out and promote unique Canadian talent that will help those fascinating and risk-taking creative minds grow, expand, stay Canadian, and gain global brand recognition. JOE FRESH will always be featured in the news because they have the knowledge, reputation, and resources. And, most certainly, Louis Vuitton is going to get the best ad space in a glossy but when will ASHTIANI, SENTALER, ANNE SPORTUN, ANDREW FLOYD, MICHI and ANASTASIA RADEVICH become international names? The longer we wait, the more these designers fall into the possibility of being mimicked, tempted to move their brand elsewhere or be offered the fame of working under an already established fashion house.