Wednesday evening Mercedes-Benz Canada and IMG gathered round the who’s who of the Toronto fashion scene to tell us all a big secret. Naturally, suspicions culminated in the unlikely prospect of a Benz-sponsored fashion week just like in New York City – even after being proven wrong, we all were pretty pleased with the announcement of the Mercedes-Benz Start Up Program instead.

IMG, a leading global PR company and Mercedes-Benz (who equate building a luxury vehicle with fashion – hell, yes) have come up with a program that will provide a platform for budding Canadian fashion designers who are all very much in need of an extra hand – especially one clenching a few dollars.

So what’s this Start Up program entail? Designers who have sold under their label for no more than 5 years and have an established business that has at least produced one commercial collection are eligible to participate. They should submit their entries in the next month or two and from this pool, a total of 20 designers will be selected. Two semi-finalists will be chosen in two provinces and will present their collections at LGFW in October 2011.

Julio Reyes-Cocka of, Marcus Kan of and Sharon of

It gets better; order another round. From the four national semi-finalists, one will progress to the next stage of fashion supremacy. Between Fall and Spring (or Spring and Fall if you keep fashion time), this individual will have access to industry mentors and resources to help them prepare their solo show for LGFW in March 2012.

fashion’s beer of choice.

Now I know this sounds like a Project Runway/So You Think You Can Sew of sorts but Mercedes-Benz strongly claims that it is not a contest but a serious attempt to strengthen the Canadian fashion industry on a global scale. So our suspicions come back full circle: if we build a stronger fashion industry with Wangs and Posens budding every season, who knows, maybe Toronto will be the next stop on the fashion circuit in a few years. Paris, Milan, New York, T.Dot. Has a nice ring to it, no?

For further information please contact:

Carolyn Quinn of the FDCC

Andrew Serrano of IMG Fashion

JoAnne Caza of Mercedes-Benz Canada

Michael Minielly of Mercedes-Benz Canada

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