Photo Courtesy Robin Kay
Interview

ROBIN KAY

03.12.12

Robin Kay is the President of the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC). Today, she kicks off Toronto Fashion Week with Holt Renfew featuring designers such as Jeremy Laing and Smythe.

Interview

What is your primary role as president of the FDCC?

To be a visionary, while still being sensitive to individual needs.

What are you most looking forward to about for this coming fashion week in Toronto?

This season I’m most looking forward to the design of our new tent. We’ve introduced a larger, single fashion tent, which should provide an amazing flow to allow for designers and industry to network in one beautiful location.

How does fashion week differ in Toronto from other cities?

Toronto Fashion Week is really “Canadian Fashion Week.” The shows give our own Canadian designers a platform to display their talent on a national and global scale. Canadian fashion design is unique: our designers are influenced by our exceptional natural surroundings and multiculturalism.

How did you come to be the head of the FDCC. What was your background?

I had a very successful clothing company, manufacturing, wholesale (18 stores, 600 wholesale, 100,000 square foot factory knitting mill) from 1980 to 1999. I was asked to join FDCC as the Chair and said yes as I wanted something new to be a part of. I observed that there wasn’t anything happening in Canada as a united effort for the brand and development of designers and fashion, so I thought I’d start Fashion Week in Canada. The rest, as they say, is history.

Who runs your equivalent position in New York?

In the past, the equivalent position in NYC was held by Fern Mallis, However, her position is now managed by IMG.

Do you attend fashion week in other cities? In what ways do you collect inspiration?

I attend as many fashion weeks around the world as possible, and just returned from New York Fashion Week. I collect inspiration from my children, the staff at the FDCC and my own country. Canada continues to stand as the most generous and kindest of nations.

What’s the biggest hurdle you face at Toronto Fashion Week?

The biggest hurdle we face is funding. The FDCC is a not-for-profit organization. We rely heavily on our corporate sponsors to be able to showcase Canadian design, while working hard to create a see-and-buy supply chain to increase the financial stability of our designers.

Where do you see Toronto Fashion Week in five years?

My best hope is that we will have created a financially self reliant event and that buyer demand increases for Canadian designed fashion.

Which new designers will be showing this season?

New to our calendar this season is Rad Hourani and Ezra Constantine, alongside new designers Eva Chen, Cara Cheung, OPPIO, and Pavoni.

Who are some of the longest running designers to date?

Joe Fresh, Pink Tartan, David Dixon and Lundstrom.

What’s your biggest success story regarding a Canadian designer?

I would say Joe Fresh is one of the biggest success stories. In a few short years since launching, the brand has stand alone stores in Canada and the US.

What design schools are Canadian designers coming out of? Is there a Canadian Parsons or FIT?

In Toronto, Ryerson, Humber, George Brown and Seneca are all running great (and specific) fashion programs. Ryerson is the only one running a program with a Masters program.

Is there potential for initiatives to develop between the FDCC in Toronto and the CFDA in New York?

Never say never!