March 23, 2015 8:51 am
Updated: March 23, 2015 8:52 am

Carolyn Quinn: The woman behind the Toronto Fashion Week tents

Inside the tents at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week.

George Pimentel, courtesy IMG Canada
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No one knows the inner workings of World MasterCard Fashion Week (WMCFW) better than Carolyn Quinn, director of IMG Fashion Events and Properties at IMG Canada. IMG has owned the event since October of 2012, recruiting the talented Quinn along with the purchase from the previous owner, the Fashion Design Council of Canada (FDCC) where Quinn was the event director for almost eight years.

From overseeing the entire production of World MasterCard Fashion Week, to working with designers and sponsors on their shows and activations, to the press and promotional materials, Quinn has her hand in every aspect of the week.

Inside the tents at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week.

George Pimentel, courtesy IMG Canada

She is on-site all day and night managing the event flow to make it all happen, from security to production. Quinn’s marks are all over the event ensuring everything turns out the way it was all envisioned. With more than 30,000 guests expected to enter the tents over the five-day event, it’s no easy feat, but Quinn makes it seems so.

With over a decade of experience working on Canada’s largest fashion week, we asked Quinn how it all comes together and what has made Toronto’s fashion week what it is today.

IMG Canada’s Carolyn Quinn on how World MasterCard Fashion Week comes together and what has made Toronto’s fashion week what it is today.

George Pimentel, courtesy IMG Canada

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On the evolution of Toronto Fashion Week

World MasterCard Fashion Week connects designers with buyers, press and consumers and each season it evolves. It has grown in size, in attendance and in media attention. As you can imagine, it takes years to create and build a large-scale event and brand like this.

There is so much talent in this country. The fashion scene, along with support for Canadian design, is continuously expanding, which contributes to the ongoing success of World MasterCard Fashion Week. This event has grown to extend the momentum created on the runway beyond the day of the show, to become a year-round program that promotes brands and supports their overall business objectives. World MasterCard Fashion Week has become an exciting fixture on the Toronto cultural calendar that causes a positive ripple effect beyond the tents and across the city as retailers, brands and designers celebrate with their own events and promotions.

On sponsorship involvement and their importance

Sponsors are incredibly important for being able to host any large event or festival. They are incredibly essential to host an event that gives designers the best possible show spaces. For our guests, they offer entertainment and hospitality offerings so that WMCFW becomes a full experience.

File photo: Outside the tents at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week.

George Pimentel, courtesy IMG Canada

On the Mercedes-Benz Start Up

Mercedes-Benz Start Up, an IMG event that is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, is an ongoing initiative that provides a national platform to discover and support emerging Canadian fashion designers. Every year the program travels from coast to coast, identifying the next generation of rising Canadian talent and provides them access to fashion business experts and to help them gain the knowledge and skill set required to develop a sustainable career in the fashion industry.

We host a Mercedes-Benz Start Up runway show at Fashion Week every season – the October event features a group runway show with the semi-finalist designers and the March event feature a runway show with the Awarded Designer. This season, our 2014/2015 Awarded Designer Sid Neigum will showcase his Fall/Winter 2015 collection on the runway on March 23.

On Toronto as a creative hub

Each city and market has its own unique vision and audience; Toronto is a top creative hub and a key business centre in this country, it’s an internationally renowned city, so it’s important that we host a showcase of Canadian talent.

Our focus is on making Toronto the home for Canadian designers and we have designers from across the country showing with us. For media and industry, it makes it easier to see Canadian collections on one stage and designers benefit from this one larger stage that attracts a larger audience because of an extensive schedule.

On watching Canadian designers grow.

My favourite part of fashion week is seeing designers grow from season to season. I adore the fashion, and seeing the incredible designs that come down the runway. I am usually too tired to make it out to many of the after parties!

I always remind designers to not only focus on creating their beautiful collections, but to also focus on the business side of their brand. To make a living being a fashion designer, you have to have sales.

Inside the tents at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week.

On the future of World MasterCard Fashion Week

World MasterCard Fashion Week is always evolving. We always look to grow the calendar and on-site experience for designers and guests. We continue to host an event that truly is a national platform where designers can debut their collections and the industry can efficiently do their jobs. What the future holds we can’t tell, but whenever we evolve it’s a direct result of feedback our designers and guests give us, so we always have our ear to the ground to decide what’s next.

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