Startup Fashion Week was created in 2014 to celebrate, support and connect startups in Fashion, Fashion-Tech and Wearable-Tech. We had the pleasure of attending last year and cannot wait to do it all over again this October.

From runway presentations to notable guest speakers and special presentations, SFW has a lot to offer. So whether you’re breaking into the biz, looking for guidance and mentorship, or interested in connecting with like-minded peeps – you’re in for a loaded and inspiring week.

One of the events we’re most looking forward to is the Business of Fashion Conference, happening on Tuesday, October 4th with Keynote Speaker Barbara Atkin (former VP of Fashion Direction at Holt Renfrew). We caught up with her last week.

SDTC: How are you participating in Startup Fashion Week this year?

BA: I will be attending all days and am the keynote speaker this year talking about the important global trends that businesses need to pay attention to for success in the 21st century and beyond.

What do you hope participants take away from Startup Fashion Week?

Hopefully all participants starting new business will take away critical information as to what is needed to build a successful brand in this crowded landscape of global brand building.

What’s the best piece of career advice you ever received? 

To have a point of view, know who you are, understand why what you are doing will make a difference in the world and never give up, no matter how tough you find it out there.

Can you tell us about three designers/innovators who are currently doing amazing things that we need to know about?

Keep your eye on Daniel Christian Tang jewellery designers who have established a unique position in 3D printed jewellery. Also watch for the app called Klothed, which will help a man’s wardrobe needs by starting with a virtual self image. Finally, the lingerie company Knixwear has perfected seamless things and briefs made with finely knit activewear fabrics, filling a much-needed niche market in the lingerie world. Great product and a smart business plan makes Knixwear a startup worth watching.

What’s the biggest challenge young designers face in Canada and what can we do to help?

The biggest challenge for any young designer in Canada today is funding. Most young designers do not have a solid business plan to go to market with in search of funding. Designers today need to understand that good design alone is not the answer to success without a three- to five-year plan on how they see financial growth. Hopefully Startup Fashion Week will help in this area.

Where do you hope to see the Canadian fashion industry in five years?

The Canadian fashion industry is in its infancy on the world stage. Hopefully in five years, Canada will be considered a relative player as an emerging country of design and innovation talent.

Startup Fashion Week runs from October 3rd to October 7th across multiple venues in Toronto. You can purchase passes and tickets HERE