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Take A Look Back with the 2019 - 2020 Annual Report!

Recapping our favourite highlights from 2019 - 2020 with the release of our Fashion Zone Annual Report!
By: The Fashion Zone
September 30, 2020

Executive Summary

Our 2019 results demonstrate the strength of the Fashion Zone model which focuses on offering services that our community needs to move forward in a highly competitive market. The Fashion Zone is adiverse community of female, BIPOC, LGTBQ creators, makers, founders and advisors. Our community of current start-ups and graduates generated over $65M in sales with $1M in equity investments. Collectively these ventures created employment opportunities for nearly 350 Ontarians. 32% of our start-ups view their business through a social lens, pushing the limits of sustainability and building a better world.

We strive to accelerate diversity and inclusion through programming, advisory services, events and experiences. Last year, we ran 55 events including fashion industry panels and specialized PR, sustainability and online marketing strategy workshops. Our industry-focused events attracted over 3824 student participants, a growth rate of 280% in comparison to 2018. To better support our more advanced start-ups, we introduced an Entrepreneur in Residence program offering services in operations and growth marketing. In addition, we launched the Fashion Zone Experiential Production Program, which supports start-ups with on-site and virtual event services to facilitate launch parties or events at the Creative Innovation Studio.

Intending to create more original content, we pivoted from exclusively sharing Fashion Zone company content to creating our own. Fashion Zone editorials feature products and designs from Fashion Zone start-ups. Here, selected brands receive professional photography and content, an asset many fashion start-ups struggle to maintain. In total, we facilitated five editorial shoots and published 23 blog posts that drove nearly 18,000 people to our website.

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2019-2020 in Numbers

$62,727,769.00

 

Total Revenue generated by Fashion Zone Companies

+280%

 

Total Percentage of Growth

$952,000.00

 

Equity Investments Raised by Fashion Zone Companies

41,540


Total Website Page Views from 11,186 Visitors

82

 

Current Fashion Zone Members with 59 Female Founders

17,147

 

Blog Page Views for 23 Original Blog Posts

781,664

 

Social Media Followers from Fashion Zone Companies

5,790

 

Social Media Followers from 3 Platforms

Event Highlights

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Fashion futures photo

Fashion Futures

Fashion Zone organized Fashion Futures, a networking event bringing in industry professionals from Balenciaga, Puma, Tulip Retail, and Fashion Zone family member, Encircled, external link. The event discussed the latest fashion technologies and careers with our partners Fashion Tech Toronto, external link, and Style Canada, external link, bringing in a full room of fashion and technology professionals, enthusiasts, and students.

Toronto Fashion Week photo

Toronto Fashion Week

Toronto Fashion Week is a time for the nation’s top fashion houses and emerging talent to showcase their work, and this year we were also able to celebrate with several Fashion Zone family members at their showcases! Special shout outs to participants from Fashion Zone family members Wuxly, external link, Omi Woods, external link, and Sprout Collection, external link, and Ryerson community Farley Chatto, external link, and Adrian Arnieri, external link.

Fashion Talks event

Fashion Talks Series

The Fashion Zone partnered with the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, external link, and Donna Bishop, for the Fashion Talks interview series. Fashion Talks is a podcast produced through a series of live interviews with some of the best leaders in fashion. These talks shine a light on the stories of diverse fashion entrepreneurs as they share personal stories of successes and challenges in their journey of building their brands.

Source My Garment book launch

Source My Garment Book Launch

One of our companies, Source My Garment, external link, developed and published their first book on responsible manufacturing, supply chain transparency, and sustainable design and business. We collaborated with Source My Garment on the launch of the book and turned the opening celebration into a panel discussion, bringing in leaders in sustainability at our space to network with the public community.

Marketing Highlights: Fashion Zone Editorials

With a goal to create more original content, we kicked off the year with the launch of the Fashion Zone Creative Editorials project, a series of photo and video campaigns that feature products and designs from the Fashion Zone family of companies. As one of the Zones in the creative sector, we seek to showcase the innovation of our start-up members and demonstrate the creative capacity of our community at Ryerson University.

Industry Collaborations

Photography: Freya de Tonnancour, external link

Make-Up Artists: Sarah Lam, external link and Emma Rafizadeh, external link

Hair Stylist: Ryan McGovern, external link

Collaborations: B&M Models, external link, Elite Models, external link, Spot 6 Models, external link, Fairmont Royal York, external link

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Ace Academy image

Ace Academy

The Fashion Zone is proud to present Ace Academy, a campaign that answers questions about student life that everyone is thinking but no one is answering.

State of Emergency image

State of Emergency

State of Emergency is a story of extremes. Inspired by the arrival of winter, the concept takes a bright and bold approach in the use of colour to contrast cool environments. With a focus on technical design, the styling features pieces of functionality and innovation.

Hotel Holiday image

Hotel Holiday

The Fashion Zone, in collaboration with the Fairmont Royal York, presents Hotel Holiday, a luxurious story of a girl getting ready to hit the town’s hottest holiday events in all the right looks.

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Conscious Creators

Conscious Creators is a blog article that focused on how today’s designers are tackling issues of sustainability. Fashion is one of the industries with the highest impact on the environment, and this piece interviewed several Fashion Zone companies who endorse sustainable business practices.

Start-Up Highlights

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Finley / Benchwork image

Finley/Benchwork

Crafted sustainably.

Benchwork, or formerly known as Finley, external link, started as a sustainable jewelry brand focused on creating timeless pieces made to the highest standards of ethics and sustainability. After joining the Fashion Zone, their direct-to-consumer brand was doing very well; their sales were growing, their social presence was growing, and the team developed an efficient and ethical supply chain for jewelry manufacturing.

Aille image

Aille

Good design shouldn't exclude anyone.

Aille Design, external link (pronounced “i / eye”) products are inclusive, fully legible for Braille readers, destigmatize disability and educate about the importance of inclusive representation in the fashion industry. Aille Design works alongside a diverse team of fashion lovers from blind, visually impaired and sighted communities.

Since joining the Fashion Zone, Alexa has had several media appearances and established credibility within the visually impaired community. Select press includes a live TV segment with BT Breakfast Television, external link, guest speaker and panellist at TechToronto’s event How Our Senses Sell Us, an interview with CTV News and being selected to participate in the CAFA x FASHION Wear Canada Proud Designer Sale. These opportunities and connections were made possible through the dedication and commitment of the Fashion Zone staff and advisors.

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RUBIES

Every girl deserves to shine.

Fashion Zone member Jamie Alexander moves the dial in fashion diversity by launching a revolutionary trans-inclusive children’s swimwear line called RUBIES, external link, inspired by his daughter. The line, co-created by Olena Vivcharyuk, lead technician at the Fashion Zone and current technician at the School of Fashion, blends fashion technologies and cuttingedge innovation to develop high-tech swimwear for trans girls. Each pair of RUBIES bikini bottoms is made of high-quality compression spandex and mesh that provides unparalleled support, comfort and style.

Within a few weeks of joining the Fashion Zone, Jamie and Olena had created functional prototypes of RUBIES bikini bottoms and began user testing. Jamie connected with parents of trans children via Facebook support groups and sent out 100 pieces to girls in Canada, Australia and the US. Jamie continues to refine the design of the swimsuit bottoms based on the feedback he receives to ensure user-centred functionality.

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Beatnik & Sons

Sustainability as the standard.

Beatnik and Sons, external link want customers to carry their belongings but also a message. As an ethical fashion brand that designs, manufactures and sells backpacks and other leather goods to travellers all over the world. All its products are handcrafted by refugees and people in need of assistance in the south of Brazil and sold online direct to the customer. The brand was able to gather more than 100,000 people on social media and start a movement that inspires people to travel around the world and carry a message of change.

Graduate Highlights

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Wuxly

Fashion with a conscience.

This year was a big year for Fashion Zone graduate, Wuxly, external link. Not only were they seen being worn at the CBC New Year’s Eve Countdown to 2020, being featured on the Kit and E-talk, their founder James Yurichuk being selected as a 2019 City Mogul, they also opened their first retail space on Queen Street.

Wuxly has always been innovators in creating high-quality outerwear, so to help to develop their product line, they accessed our technical staff and production equipment for product development.

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Encircled

Local takes on global.

Encircled, external link began with a desire to create clothing so you could travel lighter in comfort and with style. They believe in designing clothing that can simplify your life by taking you from day to night, work to weekend and New York to Tokyo. Encircled was founded by Kristi Soomer, a former management consultant who virtually lived in airports and travelled over 100,000 miles a year.

The Brand is 100% made in Canada and a Certified B-Corporation. Kristi joined the zone in 2018 as after 5 years of building her brand, opening the Encircled showroom and hiring 10+ employees.

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House of Anesi

Say hello to comfort.

Typical bra designs do not sufficiently account for normal fluctuations in breast size and shape, such as during menopause and pregnancy. As a result, many women live with discomfort on a regular basis. House of Anesi, external link aimed to solve this problem by reengineering a bra by using performance technology and smart materials to provide a perfect fit that adapts to fluctuations.

The company launched a Kickstarter in 2018 and was 140% funded raising $90, 452 and is still fulfilling their orders. The Fashion Zone pattern technician worked with the team for a total of 111 hours to bring the Anesi prototype to life.

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Scoria World

Optimize handprint & minimize footprint.

On average, one yoga practitioner is breathing in around 500 hours of toxins per year from their yoga mat. So, Scoria World, external link decided to optimize their handprint while minimizing our footprint. By eliminating all chemicals and providing a 100% natural yoga mat, Scoria makes it accessible to more yoga practitioners to make healthy and safe choices without the need to sacrifice creativity.

While in the Zone, Yara hired two Ryerson students and received over $6000 in grants . One of their biggest accomplishments was attending marketing seminars and working with the Fashion Zone community to gain unique online marketing tools that 10x their online sales and positioned the company for success in a competitive marketplace. Soria has donated 40,100 meals since 2017 and has expanded their line to include clothing and yoga accessories.