Vision

Presenting the most progressive, distinct and exceptional fashion, textiles and crafts by Indigenous artists at the intersection of art, fashion and culture.

Mission

IFWTO presents Indigenous-made fashion, textiles and craft. IFWTO is committed to exploring the deep connections between mainstream fashion, Indigenous art and traditional practice through presentation for broad audiences and industries. With amplified visibility of and led by Indigenous women, IFWTO is bold, inclusive and accessible. We challenge perceptions of and celebrate Indigenous people and our culture with integrity, innovation and excellence.

Mandate & Artistic Policy

IFWTO – Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto presents Indigenous-made/designed fashion, crafts and textiles in runways, curated exhibitions, artist talks, panels, lectures, hands-on workshops, and a marketplace for all audiences.

Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto is Indigenous-led and committed to becoming a leader in the dissemination and exportation of Indigenous-made works for the advancement and empowerment of Indigenous artists and designers, connecting them and their work to Canadian and international audiences, festivals, buyers, retailers, curators and institutes.

IFWTO programs 60% or more Indigenous women artists and their works in fashion, textiles and crafts. All self-identified Indigenous artists and exhibitors from across Canada and around the world are invited to apply to exhibit in runway and marketplace. Emerging, mid-career and established aritsts and designers are equally considered for programming.

IFWTO accepts applications of fashion, crafts or textiles of any style. An application does not guarantee inclusion in Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto.

IFWTO uses the words “artist” and “designer” interchangeably. All artists exhibited in runway, art exhibition, workshops and/or panels are paid artist fees by IFWTO based on CARFAC minimum fee schedule.

Selected works for the runway program are selected based on artistic merit, innovative vision, technicality and skill, impacts for the artist and audiences and overall cohesion to IFWTO vision.

Selected works for the marketplace are based on artistic merit, technicality and skill, impact for the artist, retail readiness, potential interest by fashion industry, audience demand and opportunity to challenge audiences and overall cohesion to IFWTO vision.

In certain programs, such as a “spotlight” program, an artist may be solicited or curated for a program. Solicited and curated artists are selected by the Artistic Director and/or a guest curator and/or advisor(s). These selections are in line with a specific curatorial vision.

Selection Process

IFWTO is committed to managing a transparent selection process and presenting a high level of excellence in our programming, maintaining artistic integrity that mutually benefits programmed artists, IFWTO and our audiences. IFWTO prioritizes new fashion, crafts and textiles works. Priority may be given to works that have not yet been presented nationally in Canada, provincially in Ontario, or locally in Toronto. Due to high submission volumes and the limited runway and/or marketplace spots, the selection committee may choose to prioritize works by an Indigenous designer that has not yet had the opportunity of a public presentation or, for runway, focuses on artistic expression and beyond commercial fashion. 

Runway and Marketplace selections are made by a selection committee through an organized juried process. The selection committee is comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous administrators and/or artists working in arts, fashion and/or culture, including IFWTO employees. The selection committee is formed and led by the Artistic Director.  

Decisions are made by consensus, with considerable thought and discussion during deliberations. If a designer is not selected, it is not a comment on individual achievements, relationships, or the artistic value of the work. In addition to eligibility terms and artistic policies, the selection process must also consider available runway/marketplace slots, scheduling, thematic arcs, and representing the diversity of artistic and cultural perspectives from Indigenous nations in Canada and around the world. 

The process of accepting and declining works is necessary, but emotional, for everyone involved and we understand how difficult it can be to receive such news. While discussions of the selection committee in deliberations are confidential, we greatly appreciate feedback on our processes and in return are pleased to suggest alternative runway or marketplace strategies for your work beyond the official IFWTO program.

We pay close attention to potential conflicts of interest (direct and indirect) to ensure a transparent jury process. When there is any question of conflict, a discussion and objective decision is made for whether a selection committee member can judge an application to guarantee fair judging of all applicants. However, given our small but growing community of Indigenous designers, we believe we cannot disadvantage Indigenous artists who give their time to IFWTO by excluding them from artistic presentation opportunities, which is determined without their input or influence. Sometimes these applicants are eligible to submit their work to IFWTO; however, they do not influence programming decisions. In cases where their work is being considered, they are not present for programming discussions and decisions about their work, nor do they have input into the scheduling of it.

A direct conflict of interest occurs when a juror or their immediate family member (spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, or member of their immediate household) will benefit financially from the success of an application. Indirect conflicts of interest occur when some factor makes it difficult for a juror to evaluate an application objectively and will be made apparent on a case by case basis.

To maintain public confidence in our jury process, we have outlined our practices and policies that ensure all applications are considered fairly even if an applicant is not successful. In considering conflict of interest, we identify direct, indirect, and perceived conflicts, and we manage them individually.

Our Name

We are an arts and culture festival. We maintain a “fashion week” connection in our name for important reasons. Within the context of colonization, the intention was to exploit, disempower and erase Indigenous people and culture, including through the commodification, devaluing and theft of Indigenous-made fashion, crafts and textiles. Additionally, fashion, crafts and textiles have been excluded from a patriarchal western definition of “art”. 

The exclusion and misrepresentation of Indigenous culture and people, and specifically of women, has had damaging impacts on Indigenous communities. However, the name “Fashion Week” is purposeful: 1) to create and maintain space for Indigenous-led representation in the mainstream fashion industry, 2) to establish “fashion” as “art” and, 3) to maintain accessibility to our community of makers who have established themselves “in fashion”. 

We strive for artistic integrity beyond euro-western artistic definitions.

We are an arts and culture festival. A festival that presents Indigenous-made fashion, crafts and textiles and consequently fosters economic and industry development.

Politics

IFWTO is for everyone! Fashion, textiles and craft are accessible art forms. Regardless of class, gender, culture, race, geographic location, education level, artistic understanding or professional industry, every person undeniably interacts with these forms every single day. Fundamentally, clothing is survival that connects us to each other and the land.

IFWTO challenges mainstream perceptions of Indigenous people and our culture. Indigenous stereotypes, exploitation and commodification are harmful and high-profile: appropriation by international retailers, ignorant street-style fashion at massive music festivals, racist national sports team mascots, and violent news headlines & online comments sections. By creating space for and presenting Indigenous artists we contribute to dismantling these persistent and harmful perceptions of Indigenous people and our culture, shifting the focus to Indigenous people and our work from across Canada – on and off-reserve – and around the world.

Our priority is to program 60% or more Indigenous women. We amplify our voices and visibility and put our women front and centre. At IFWTO, the presence of and leadership by Indigenous women is essential: we are here. We make up most Indigenous makers in Canada, we advocate each other and we honour our matriarchs who have come before us and their work.

IFWTO (Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto) is operated by a group of primarily Indigenous women. IFWTO gives artistic and professional agency to Indigenous makers, presenting their fashion, textiles and craft in showcases, exhibitions, workshops, lectures and a marketplace outside of the mainstream fashion and craft industries. IFWTO is Indigenous-led and committed to becoming a leader in the dissemination and exportation of Indigenous-made works for the advancement, empowerment and wellbeing of Indigenous artists, with a focus on amplifying the visibility and voices of Indigenous women, connecting them and their works to Canadian and international audiences, festivals, buyers, curators and academic institutes.