June 16, 2024

Fashion Design

Fashion Designs that Enlighten the Soul.

Toronto just got a new fashion week show and it’s happening in a subway station

3 min read

Toronto’s only fashion club is disrupting the city’s fashion scene as we know it by hosting their own Toronto Fashion Week runway series — and the event will take place in a TTC subway station. 

Rchive, a retail and event space that opened on King Street West last September, has been working to cultivate more community in Toronto’s fashion industry by hosting runway shows, art exhibits, musical showcases and poetry nights. One event was a live fashion competition in which designers had 21 hours to create original looks from pre-existing overstock garments. 

Now the founders, couple Ion (Jai) Sobaliu and Sadaf Emami, are throwing themselves into Toronto’s de facto fashion week by hosting a series of runway shows in Lower Bay Station from May 3-5. 

The abandoned subway platforms below the TTC’s Bay station have been closed since 1966, but the City of Toronto rents it out for commercial purposes including parties, film productions and music videos (notably The Weeknd and Future’s ​​”Comin Out Strong” collaboration). 

“We wanted to take the initiative to create more spaces and more stages for creatives to show their talent,” says Emami. “During New York Fashion Week, there are multiple shows happening throughout the city, and organizations have multiple stages. That’s something that we lack here in Toronto — during Fashion Week we only really have one show going on.”

That wasn’t always the case. Toronto Fashion Week lost its main attraction, aptly named “Toronto Fashion Week” (formerly “World MasterCard Fashion”), in 2016 when its American sponsor IMG pulled the plug only four year after purchasing the showcase from long-time host and non-profit, Fashion Design Council of Canada. Fashion Art Toronto, a showcase founded in 2005 by designer Vanja Vasic, then took its place as the city’s longest-running annual fashion event. This year’s spring/ summer showcase takes place from May 2-5. 

Asked about timing the Rchive shows over the same weekend, Emami says, “To be on world class level and compete with all these other fashion houses, we have to have multiple stages. We have to give voice to all of our designers in the city. And one stage isn’t enough. People should be able to go from one show to another, from one area to another. It brings the city to life.” 

The Rchive showcase will feature 15 designers — five each day, including their own Rchive Redux brand featuring upcycled pieces — as well as live music, clothing vendors and an after party.   

“Our slogan for this fashion week is ‘From the streets, to the runway’ so we wanted to create an opportunity for up and coming designers that are more into streetwear style and and everyday wear to have a stage,” explains Emami. After an enthusiastically positive response from the first show, she says that Rchive will begin accepting designer and model applications for a fall showcase as soon as this weekend ends. The event location is already secured, but they won’t be sharing information until closer to the date. 

Designer applications are open to anybody, so long as you have a full collection to present, and exhibit plenty of dedication to your craft.

“I say that because this isn’t easy,” says Emami. “I’ve been seeing how hard the designers are working and how passionate they are to truly represent Toronto’s fashion scene.”

Since opening, Rchive has hosted 20 shows in its space and has no plans to slow down.

“We’ve been connecting a lot with the community and have seen Rchive Fashion Club become a space where creatives can come here to showcase their collections, their talent, but also connect, grow and network,” says Emami.

Tickets for Rchive’s Toronto Fashion Week showcase, “From the streets, to the runway” are on sale now on Eventbrite, ranging from $30-$40 per show, $90-$130 for a day, or $190-$290 for the whole weekend (variations depend on general admission or VIP). Rchive is also selling Toronto Fashion Week merch on its online store.


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