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Fashion & Design

Big names like Club Monaco, Caban (later sold to Polo Ralph Lauren), Pink Tartan, Roots, Danier Leather, Phantom Hosiery and Tilley Endurables is evidence that Toronto is a fashion and design a powerhouse, It is also home to Canada’s largest retail market and biggest design workforce. Visionary style collectives, like the Toronto Fashion Incubator, the first official incubator of its kind in the world, have helped solidify the city’s place on the global fashion map. Through a successful combination of apparel industry leaders, internationally acclaimed designers and award winning fashion schools, Toronto has become an iconic North America style destination.

With over 25,000 people, Toronto has the largest design workforce in Canada and the third largest in North America. This highly skilled group is well educated: 34 percent of designers having a university degree. Toronto’s internationally acclaimed design leaders include Umbra, Teknion, Keilhauer, Yabu Pushelberg, Hambley & Wooley, Eventscape, Quadrangle, Bruce Mau and many others.

Toronto’s apparel industry leaders like Holt Renfrew and HBC, along with well organized Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) like that of Bloor Yorkville with its international boutiques, and local concentrations of independent retailers in hip, fashion destination areas like Queen West, are the driving force behind Canada’s largest retail market.

Toronto’s fashion and design schools develop and nurture the next generation of creative entrepreneurs. The city’s high profile fashion schools include Ryerson University, George Brown College, Seneca College, Humber College and the Academy of Design while the world-class Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD)—in its distinctive building perched on stilt-like pencils—is searched out by design students from around the globe.

Toronto has a number of groups and institutions that promote the city’s fashion and design initiatives. The Design Exchange is Canada’s design centre and museum. Offering more than forty programs that target all ages, its mission is to promote the value of design across all disciplines through its competitions, education programs, exhibitions and industrial design collection. LG Fashion Week includes 36 runway shows and events and is the second largest fashion week in North America. The city also hosts a number of trade shows throughout the year, including the Ontario Fashion Exhibitors Market, the Toronto Shoe Show the Interior Design Show and Design Thinkers.

To help further promote design of all kinds, the City of Toronto established the Design Industry Advisory Council (DIAC) in 2001. A multi-disciplinary think-tank, its membership includes representatives of the six design disciplines (architecture, landscape architecture, fashion, graphic, industrial and interior design), educational institutions, the Design Exchange, the City and the province.