Meet the Speakers: 2017 CAFA Fashion and Retail Forum

We’re so excited to introduce our illustrious speakers who will be presenting at the CAFA Fashion and Retail Forum this year.

At the Thorton-Smith Building on Thursday, April 6th 2017 at 8:30 AM, the first ever CAFA Fashion and Retail forum will be taking place. This event is a part of CAFA’s efforts to foster economic development in the Canadian Fashion Industry. The forum will feature Canadian and international industry speakers discussing thought-provoking conversations on prominent issues and opportunities facing the fashion industry.


Now, it is time to delve in and get to know more about our amazing speakers!

A fireside chat with fashion insider Edward Menicheschi:


Edward Menicheschi is the former CMO of Condé Nast and President, Condé Nast Media Group. Menicheschi has over 25 years in the publishing world and held positions in GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair, WWDMedia Worldwide. Menicheschi will be sharing his thoughts on the future of storytelling.

The State of the Consumer with Ethan Song & Jackie Tardiff:


Ethan Song is the CEO and co-founder of Frank & Oak. Song and his partner Hicham Ratnani saw an opportunity in 2011 in the men’s space, starting Frank + Oak in 2012. Today, Frank + Oak continues to set itself apart as a brand that redefines commerce on all fronts, from product to marketing campaigns and online or in-store shopping experiences. Song, in turn, continues to redefine the world around him by collaborating on a wide array of creative and entrepreneurial endeavours.


Since her debut at Reitmans Canada Ltd in 1995 Jackie Tardif has worn many hats from Senior buyer, to Vice-President Merchandising, to Senior Vice-President Merchandising and General Manager & Leader of Smartset in 2014 to being the Senior Vice-President Merchandising of Reitmans & Leader of HYBA.

An energetic leader known for her ability to envision, create successful strategies & outcomes in a highly competitive landscape. As well as her skill to communicate a compelling message, to rally and motivate a team, with a tenacious commitment for driving sales, profit and market-share growth.

Building an International Brand:


An intimate conversation with twins Byron and Dexter Peart, the co-founders and creative directors of WANT Les Essentiels. WANT Les Essentiels was founded in 2006 and is a high-end accessories label with a focus on making stylish and comfortable luggage and travel bags for frequent travellers. The brand’s collection which has expanded since launch to include both women’s and men’s bags and accessories, footwear and cashmere essentials. Byron and Dexter are also co-founders of the WANT Apothecary retail concept, with boutiques in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and a newly opened location in the NoMad Hotel, New York.

Building a Global Fashion platform:


Guillaume Mercier is the Vice President of Marketing for SSENSE, a Montreal-based fashion platform currently serving 114 countries and generating an average of 32 million monthly page views. Founded in 2003, SSENSE is pacing the vanguard of directional retail with its mix of luxury, streetwear, and avant-garde labels.

Guillaume joined SSENSE from Elysium, a startup envisioned by Guy Laliberté, where he was President and General Manager, working with world-class creatives. Earlier in his career Guillaume also served as a venture capitalist at Real Ventures in Montreal and Senior Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company. Guillaume holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is Chairman of the Board for the non-profit organization Pour 3 Points.

CAFA Tech Talk:


A Tech talk with Dax Sasilva, Founder, CEO the creative mind behind Lightspeed. Lightspeed is a point-of-sale eCommerce software. Under Dax’s leadership, Lightspeed provides industry-leading omnichannel commerce tools that enable more than 40,000 small and medium-sized businesses worldwide to thrive. His vision of blending the best of the digital and physical worlds continues to guide the company today. Lightspeed helps its customers process over $15 billion in transactions annually.


Retail Revolutions:


Drawing from her 30 plus years in retail, Anne Martin-Vachon President of the Shopping Channel will be discussing the evolution of shopping platforms and what the future holds.


The Future of Retail:


Eric Morris is the Head of Search and Direct Response Advertising at Google, where he has worked alongside Canada’s top marketers and advertising agencies since 2002. Morris also sits on the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada’s board of directors.

The FIVE most effective ways to expose your fashion brand through digital marketing:

By Nathan Yeung

Nathan is the Director of Network Development of Media Network Nexus, a company that specializes in helping brands achieve digital exposure through tailored platforms and strategies. By providing content, technical support, hosting solutions and representing digital influencers, the Media Network Nexus has its finger on the pulse of effective brand activations and accessing platforms, content and influencers with an expansive reach.


I get asked what the secret is to online success all the time. In a world of mutli-channel, multi-media and trans-media models, companies and brands are overwhelmed by how to gain exposure effectively online. We deal with this concern and help brands refine their approach by providing services that clarify goals, successes and results.

Through our experience we have come up with a few basic tools that can help any brand get on the right track when it comes to brand exposure:

  1. Influencer Partnerships: Partner with a “groups” of influencers. Sounds simple right? By finding the right group of influencers, who already work together, this can provide you with a much higher engagement and exposure then hand-selecting influencers.
  1. The Multi-Channel Approach: This is something we live by at Media Nexus Network. Always choose multi-channel for your brand exposure. Try not to focus just on sponsored content on Instagram, which lately has been the method for a lot of brands. You need to expand your campaign to Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram and Blogs…and whatever else is coming next!
  1. It’s Quality over Quantity: Want an influencer with 40 bazillion followers? Think again. With tremendously high reach, influencers are beginning to lose their authenticity. You should try launching smaller, high-impact campaigns for a real pack in your exposure punch.
  1. Influencer Activation + Ads = Win: Having an influencer in your corner isn’t enough. PLEASE don’t forget to buy ads on your influencer’s websites and/or help them start to have ads on their sites.
  1. Create Something Unique: If you’re buying digital ads, you need something better than the traditional banners. Go big! Ask for site skins, interstitials, or dynamic ads that engage audiences so that you can clear the noise and really drive your brand exposure.

Designer Spotlight | Shay Lowe Jewellery

Passionate designer and entrepreneur Shay Lowe creates accessories that make a statement.

The designer behind Shay Lowe Jewellery

Her namesake company is a jewellery lifestyle brand focused on luxury, glamour and beauty. Each of the collections produced by Shay Lowe Jewellery is a reflection of the designer’s varied interests like art, culture, travel and society. Her signature pieces are defined by a sense of old world glamour; each accessory’s bold design is balanced with a hint of sparkle.

Bold, alluring, and statement-making, Shay Lowe Jewellery Design’s philosophy is “Be Extraordinary.”  —Shay Lowe

The Toronto-based designer also has a long list of diverse accolades under her belt: from being named one of Chatelaine Magazine‘s “Profit W100 Top Female Entrepreneurs in Canada” to being named among “Toronto’s Most Fashionable 2012” by the Toronto Star. As an avid supporter of the arts, Shay is also a founding member and former Co-Chair of Turnout, The National Ballet of Canada’s young professionals group. She has sat on numerous committees, including Rethink Breast Cancer’s annual Boobyball, The Ontario Science Centre’s LG Innovators’ Ball, Operanation for The Canadian Opera Company, and Artbound. She is currently an outreach alumni member for the Toronto Fashion Incubator.

In her biggest business venture yet, Shay Lowe Jewellery is now available on The Shopping Channel across Canada.

To learn more about Shay Lowe, visit her website:

Designer Spotlight | Marisa Minicucci, SØSKEN Studios

Marisa Minicucci
Marisa Minicucci

Marisa Minicucci is a Canadian fashion designer recognized as one of the premier names in fashion.

Hailing from Montreal, she began her career working at Irving Samuel, the prestigious coat and suit manufacturer. Ms. Minicucci went on to found her own highly successful labels – Marisa Minicucci, M Siamo and Minicucci x Marcanio. With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, she is renowned for her strong designs and unwavering commitment to women’s fashion.

“If there is one thing I’ve learned over nearly three decades in the fashion industry, it is that style is in a constant state of transition,” says Marisa Minicucci, SØSKEN Studios Designer.

Ms. Minicucci is working to refine women’s outerwear, offering women a polished collection with the debut of the Fall/Winter collection from her fashion label: SØSKEN Studios. Infused with her signature streamlined designs and modern perspective, this collection’s neat lines and classic colours are the epitome of Scandinavian cool and a true testament to Ms. Minicucci. Søsken appeals to a broad spectrum of women – regardless of age or size.This outerwear line is designed by Ms. Minicucci, under the umbrella of Adorable Outerwear.

Bio and Images courtesy of Marisa Minicucci

#CAFALoves | GOGO Sweaters

South's Bio Pic #1
Image via GOGO Sweaters

Worn by women across North America and Japan, GOGO Sweaters are handmade, statement pieces designed by South Godfrey.

Born and raised in Banff, Alberta, South was heavily influenced by the glamour and fashion of skiwear during the 1980’s.  From an early age, she was surrounded by stylish clothing sold by her parents in their high end activewear boutiques. Well-versed in fashion, her mother would scout luxury brands from Saint Moritz, Italy, and the United States.

Image via GOGO Sweaters

In 1979, South’s mother founded GOGO Sweaters. The brand was originally conceptualized to make whimsical hand knit sweaters for adults. While the designs had a noticeably Canadian vibe, they also tapped into a contemporary fashion aesthetic.

In 2011, South moved to Toronto to pursue her dream of design and entrepreneurship, solidifying the GOGO brand and establishing a showroom.  All GOGO Sweaters are now hand crafted in the GTA. South notes that finding an industry with local manufacturing has been a definite asset to GOGO’s growth.

GOGO_FW16 The Maralyn Cardi
Image via GOGO Sweaters

GOGO Sweaters are versatile, feminine, and fun. They are incredibly easy to wear, and definitely not the sweaters your grandmother knit for you.

To learn more about GOGO Sweaters, visit the brand’s website, and follow their social pages below.

Instagram: @gogosweaters

Facebook: GOGO Sweaters



Weekly Canadian fashion news from around the web.

Soon You’ll Be Able to Buy Beaufille on Net-a-Porter! | Flare Magazine


CAFA Winner Beaufille to retail at international online retailer Net-A-Porter:

In yet another Canadian label-makes-it-big story, the art house-minimalist line Beaufille—brainchild of Toronto-based designer sisters Chloé and Parris Gordon—will soon be available on luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter

Listen, it’s all well and great when a big time celeb steps out wearing a small time designer, but in the end, a freebie loan doesn’t feed mouths—until it does. For Canadian sisters Parris and Chloé Gordon of Beaufille, the momentum has been building for a while now. Last November, Lady Gaga wore a maroon, flare-legged suede suit by the label, and next thing we knew Selena Gomez appeared in one of their LBDs for a Victoria’s Secret video.

Read the article in its entirety here:

Continue reading CAFA NEWS ROUNDUP | July 11TH, 2016

OPEN CALL | The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation is Now Accepting Applications

The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation is looking for their next group of fashion-inspired businesses until July 28th, 2016, 4 PM EST.

Working closely with Ryerson University‘s Fashion Zone, the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation will incubate, develop and support Canada’s fashion-inspired businesses. Participating companies and individuals will hone their business models and skills through structured mentorship with the Joe Fresh and Ryerson teams as well as Canadian business and fashion leaders.

JFC Winners Product

Joe Fresh has maintained a far-reaching commitment to the future of the Canadian fashion industry, including education and support of new business and design talent. The goal of the Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation is to foster a 360-degree approach to mentorship that will best position young entrepreneurs for real world success. The centre will encompass Canadian startups in all fashion-related fields, including design, production, technology and professional services. Continue reading OPEN CALL | The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation is Now Accepting Applications


Weekly Canadian fashion news from around the web.

Meet the Canadian Designer Who Just Took Home the LVMH Special Prize | FASHION Magazine

LONGREADS_VejasVejas is the youngest label ever to be considered for the LVMH. Fellow finalist Facetasm has been in business for almost 10 years and has a flagship in Tokyo; Y/Project is one of the hottest tickets at Paris Fashion Week right now; and Matthew Williams of Alyx is Kanye West’s former creative director and shot with Nick Knight for his fall ’15 lookbook.

Read more here:

Green is the new black: Fashion Takes Action runway show highlights sustainable fashion | CBC News

sustainable-fashionThe Fashion Takes Action show aimed to challenge negative stereotypes around eco-fashion, which often evokes images of hippies or notions of poor quality. The event featured 10 Canadian labels that have embraced ethical practices and included a diversity of designs, from high-end couture ball gowns to recycled cotton dresses. 

Full story here:



Weekly Canadian fashion news from around the web.

Shop Talk: Jenny Bird on her jewellery line making waves worldwide | Post City Magazines

76ced1a7cc9bca4406b59f66d7696a54Toronto’s own Jenny Bird stumbled upon her love of jewellery-making when she was designing her first collection of handbags. Her pieces are edgy, modern and widely popular. Apart from her T.O. headquarters, she has showrooms across the U.S. and in Paris. Locally, Jenny Bird pieces can be found in boutiques such as Joshua David, GotStyle and Zane.

Full article here:

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Wears Beaufille On The Cover Of Châtelaine | Huffington Post

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 6.51.51 PMSophie Grégoire Trudeau has landed yet another cover of Chatelaine magazine, and this time, she’s looking cooler and more edgy than ever. Sophie recently made headlines for “stealing the show” at the Press Gallery Dinner on June 4.  At the annual event, which hosts journalists who cover Parliament, and politicians and government officials, Trudeau cheekily asked his wife what she was wearing, to which she replied, “I’m wearing Canadian. All Canadian.”

Read the article in its entirety here:

UV-blocking fashions from Canadian entrepreneur | The Globe and Mail

challenge-uvcouture00sr5When Heather Tate McCartney discovered her father had been diagnosed with melanoma, she started swimming in T-shirts and wrapping herself in towels to block the harmful rays of the sun. The look wasn’t exactly pretty, let alone effective. So she started her own company, UV Couture, which makes clothes that block UV rays.

Read the full story here:


Weekly Canadian fashion news from around the web.

CAFA 2015 Nominee Malorie Urbanovitch Launches New E-Commerce Website

Edmonton designer, and previous CAFA Nominee, Malorie Urbanovitch has launched a new website featuring an online shop that ships internationally.


Check out the new website here here:

BoF’s editor-at-large Tim Blanks was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Academy of Art University | BoF

Image via Business of Fashion

Tim’s Take has been heavily inspired by Tim’s previous work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s weekly television show Fashion File, which first taught me about fashion in the 1990s, watching him pick apart the creative processes of fashion’s most talented designers and place them into a wider cultural context.

Last week, Tim was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Academy of Art University in California, recognising his extraordinary contribution to our industry. Above all else, Tim’s success is grounded in the deep relationships he has built and maintained over the course of his career.

Visit the Business of Fashion online to read more:

Le Château adapting in competitive world, founder says | Toronto Star



The Canadian retail landscape is constantly changing, and Le Château’s founder says success depends on adapting to meet customers’ wants.

“There is a change in consumers’ habits especially in the new tech age, where people aren’t shopping in the mall. They are removed,” Herschel Segal said in an interview just before speaking to young entrepreneurs at Futurpreneur Canada’s conference on Tuesday.

“They’re not as interested in clothing as they were in 1960s and 1970s, or even the 1980s and 1990s,” he said. “They are spending on other things like travel and food.”

And the clothing business is crowded with so many competitors – including many that are also struggling or closing altogether in recent years such as Laura, Mexx, Danier Leather, Smart Set and Jacob.

Read the full article here:

The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards Blog