History of Ottawa Fashion Week

The concept of clothing design as we know it in the 21st century originated in the mid-19th century. During this period, authorship in the manufacture of clothing worldwide began to be especially valued. It was highly valued to have distinctive features in the style that made it possible to stand out from the others. In Canada, as in most other countries, the fashion revolution happened in the mid-19th century due to the creation of the clothing industry. Learn more at ottawanka.com.

Development of the clothing industry and new trends in clothing

 In the capital of Canada and some other major Canadian cities in the mid-19th century, small clothing enterprises gradually began to come into existence. Such enterprises mainly supplied clothes to city markets. In the early 20th century, the number of tailors in Canada increased significantly. Various haberdashery shops began to appear. They were selling different fabrics and a wide range of clothing accessories. There were also shops selling hats. In department stores, besides that, it was also possible to buy manufactured products, as well as to order custom tailoring. Shortly, the owners of such small shops and large chains began to produce marked clothing, guaranteeing its exclusivity and authorship.

The most prominent manufacturers of fashion in the 19th and 20th centuries were those who received encouragement from the Governor General of Canada, Frederick Arthur Stanley. Among the most eagerly sought and elite tailors of the time in Ottawa was J. M. Holbrook. While in the 21st century, the influences of the most famous fashion houses spread far and wide, in the 19th and 20th centuries, the fashion influence of designers from Ottawa did not spread beyond the city.

What was the Ottawa Fashion Show like in the 19th and 20th centuries?

As such, there was no Ottawa Fashion Show in the 19th and 20th centuries. Instead of the fashion shows we are used to in the 21st century, there were balls in the olden days. Instead of the accustomed fashion shows in the 21st century, there were balls in the old days. All the city’s elite would gather there and have a good time. At the same time, the Ottawa townspeople always dressed according to the dress code for the balls. Balls in Ottawa in the 19th and 20th centuries were an instrument of citizens’ self-expression. Especially for this event, Ottawa residents ordered custom tailoring or rented finished garments from the city’s prominent tailors. Sometimes the looks of the city’s elite were very eccentric. The city’s press wrote about the most fashionable outfits that captured our hearts.

Ottawa Fashion Week

The customary Ottawa Fashion Week didn’t appear until 2003. Then for the first time in Ottawa, they decided to show the Fall/Winter Fashion Collection. After the success of the first Ottawa Fashion Week, the event became very popular and in demand. It allowed local designers to express themselves by presenting their clothing collections. The event also introduces ordinary Ottawa residents to the art of fashion in a closer way.

Since 2003, Ottawa Fashion Week (OFW) has been held twice a year, in February and September. OFW has become a veritable platform for showcasing talents and innovative solutions for both national and international designers and artists in the field of fashion. The event has been scaling up every year. The number of participants in the fashion show has grown significantly. For Ottawa, it has become a highly anticipated and milestone event, as well as a perfect opportunity for designers and artists to further their careers and reach out to larger international markets.

Where was the fashion show held in Ottawa?

Since 2003, fashion shows in Ottawa have been held in different locations. For example, in 2012, Ottawa Fashion Week took place at the Ottawa Convention Centre. It was a new building made entirely of glass and steel. Such a modern architectural solution was very appropriate for this type of event. It aroused great interest from both the public and the organizers of the OFW and the designers and artists themselves. Besides that, the Ottawa Convention Centre was located in the heart of Ottawa near the Rideau Canal. The fashion show at the Convention Center was held in the main spacious hall and foyer, which boasted a picturesque view of the Rideau Canal. For the next two years, the OFW took place, not in Ottawa itself but nearby, in Gatineau, at a place called the Casino du Lac-Leamy. This place was also very picturesque and suitable for a fashion event.

Since 2003, the annual Ottawa Fashion Week has showcased their creations by such well-known labels as:

  • Rudsak
  • Jessica Biffi
  • Adrienne Wu
  • Jeanne Beker
  • Simon Ekrelius
  • Joseph Ribkoff.
  • Elena Hinke.

OFW concept

Over the years of Ottawa Fashion Week, its concept has remained unchanged. As before, the primary focus of the OFW is to promote creativity, innovations, art, design and fashion. Fashion Week has become an event to bring people from the fashion industry together.

It is the city of Ottawa in Canada, a city where designers and artists can show their talent and climb up the career ladder in the fashion industry. Through the OFW, young designers can make new friends and build good networks. Each year, Canadian designers and designers from other parts of the world show highly creative solutions in their clothing designs. OFW is an instrument for promoting art, including music, filmmaking and photography. It is the fashion self-expression in all its forms and spheres that has made Ottawa Fashion Week one of the most iconic and successful events in the entire country.

OFW support for cancer patients

Since 2011, Ottawa Fashion Week has begun an active partnership with the Regional Cancer Foundation, which supports the Maplesoft-Jones Centre. Through the support provided by the OFW, cancer patients and their caregivers can participate in rehabilitation programs, therapeutic therapy, listening to programs about cancer, seminars and more. Supported by Ottawa Fashion Week, all of the center’s programs are focused on improving the quality of life for cancer patients and their families on the arduous path of cancer treatment.

The best of the best

Although Canada does not set the world’s fashion scene, Ottawa is home to no less prominent and celebrated designers and fashion houses. Some of these are:

  • Farah Studio is a custom design studio. Also, in the studio, you can purchase finished items. The studio is owned by Farah Asnaashari, who has been designing and sewing women’s clothing in Ottawa since 1997. Farah began her journey as a designer at a very young age. She opened her first dressmaking studio in Italy. Following her success there, she moved to Canada’s capital city.
  • Richard Robinson is a leading figure in the Canadian fashion world. Thanks to him, the only fashion design school was opened in Ottawa.
  • Frank Sukhoo is an Ottawa based designer for Sukhoo Sukhoo Khooture. Frank Sukhoo has been a permanent participant in Ottawa Fashion Week and other fashion events in the city for more than 15 years. His designer clothes are sought after by celebrities as well as Canada’s political elite. Among the well-known clients of the Sukhoo Sukhoo Khooture were the famous Canadian cellist Amanda Forsyth and two former Governor Generals of Canada, Michaelle Jean and David Johnston.
  • Justina McCaffrey is a bridal gown designer in Ottawa. She graduated from the Fashion Institute in Los Angeles and moved to Ottawa to start her own business. In the 21st century, Justina McCaffrey is a highly sought-after designer of wedding and evening gowns in Canada. Her wedding gown collections by Justine McAfrey have been featured in international fashion shows, including one in Japan.