By: Tanya Debi
Silk scarves, turquoise bags, weaved tops and samba music were only some of the effects that lit up the runway at this year’s Latin American Fashion Week Canada (LAFWC), the largest Latin Fashion Week in Canada. It’s in its third year and it was held at The Spoke Club in Toronto. It started as a program at the University of Mexico in collaboration with Networking Worldwide, an event managing and marketing company. “Three years ago the university asked us to do something with fashion for them,” Hector Montes, the CEO of Networking Worldwide said, “and we came up with the idea of doing Latin American Fashion Week.”
As with any fashion week, there were a few glitches. With World MasterCard Fashion Week wrapping up on the day that LAFWC was supposed to start, the dates had to be changed to accommodate those who wanted to attend both. “A lot of people said they couldn’t come because they were going to MasterCard Fashion week and to a lot of their after parties, so we had to switch everything,” Montes said.
LAFWC is unique because it provides a progressive environment for Latin American designers to promote their work. On LAFWC’s website, it says that their mission is to create and opportunity for South American designers to grow and develop. This is true for some designers, like Hayet Abdala, a Mexican designer. This was her first LAFWC. She is the owner and creator of Via Vaivai, which makes handcrafted silk clothes, silk scarves, bags, jewelry and silk pillows in different colours ranging from bright orange to crisp purple. For Abdala, the process before LAFWC is demanding. “I work in my home, and I write down all my ideas and put all the silk together. I relax and start drawing, I’m at my home for days and I don’t go out and all I am doing is drawing.” Abdala wanted to make specific pieces for Toronto to see.
“I am working on the scarves and I work all by myself and ill take 30 or 35 things with me to Toronto, between bags and my scarves, it is a slow process.” One scarf could take Abdala between five and 15 hours to make.
Janice and Jake are a fashion designer duo, also new to LAFWC. They design both men’s and women’s clothing, working mainly with black and white colours. Preparation for LAFWC is easier for them. The duo have their pieces ready and accept that fashion week is a learning experience. “We used to keep in mind that we know what we we’re doing, we have trust in our work and in all the people who support us,” Jacob ‘Jake’ Herrera said. “So we were confident that this was not the first or the last runway in our life.” The duo is grateful that they have a chance to come to Toronto to showcase their work. “I think it is important to promote our project in Canada, fashion is an art that everyone in any place, in the world should know about,” Herrera said. “In this case, it is a way to show a little bit of Mexico in a piece of fabric united by our hands. It was stressful getting everything together, but we are happy with how it turned out.”
Even though this fashion week was successful, there will be a few changes to next year’s LAFWC. “We are thinking of switching venues, but we will keep The Spoke Club for all of our after parties,” Montes said.
But the big change is that they want to have designers from around the world, participate in the next one. “We have a designer from Paris who wants to show some material,” Montes said, “so we want to have a day for international designers.” In the end, this LAFWC was a memorable one. “Last fashion week was super stressful backstage because many things were disorganized, but this year we had a really good team,” Montes said. “It was the first time I saw my team laughing and having fun, instead of being stressful.”
Abdala believes that LAFWC is a great way to promote up and coming talent from Latin America. “Canadians appreciate more, hand-made things and they appreciate it more then they do in Mexico or America. I want people to know that Mexico has talent and can make quality things and that you don’t have to buy something really expensive to get something really special.”