With the closure of Ford Models in Toronto, the city has lost some much-needed fashion cred
Getting “discovered” while sipping your skinny latte outside the Eaton Centre just got a little bit harder. One of the world’s top modeling agencies, Ford Models, has announced that it will be shuttering its Toronto branch by the end of January. The move came as a surprise to many. And while the loss may be a short-term boon for some competing agencies, Ford’s shutdown is a hit to Toronto’s hard-won identity as a fashion capital.
Arriving in Canada back in 1995, the New York agency brought with it an exceptional pedigree. Ford’s reputation helped put Toronto on the world’s style radar.
In 1999, just four years later, Robin Kay, current president of the Fashion Design Council of Canada, started putting Toronto Fashion Week together. The event was touted as truly putting Toronto on the map, building on the reputation Ford Models (and many other talented individuals) helped it achieve by showcasing local designers and talent in an unprecedented way.
Toronto had finally made it, or so we thought.
In recent years, it has become increasingly hard for homegrown talent to nab high-profile stage time during Fashion Week, so much so that unofficial events have sprung up to ensure Canadians are put front and centre. Perhaps that’s why Toronto Fashion Week — officially World MasterCard Fashion Week — doesn’t even have “Toronto” in its name.
Ford Models’ pullout doesn’t exactly spell disaster for the city, but coupled with Toronto’s history of marginalizing its own talent, we may be seeing the origins of a troubling identity crisis that could face the local fashion industry in the years to come.