SFU Fashion Week returns for fifth season

We spoke with creative director Dio Wong about the event’s inspirations, its purpose, and its future goals

(Image courtesy of SFU Fashion Week)

By: Alex Bloom

SFU Fashion Week is a yearly event aimed at promoting the work of emerging designers. With the fifth year of event around the corner, I sat down with Dio Wong, the creative director of SFU Fashion Week, to discuss this year’s show.

     SFU Fashion Week Season 5 is comprised of three separate one-day events. The first day, taking place on March 28 from 5:30–8:30 p.m. at Club Ilia, is a networking event. As Wong elaborated, this first event is designed to bring students, business people, and fashion industry professionals together. “There’s not that many opportunities for people to pursue their careers in fashion, other than fashion shows, but most fashion shows don’t have a networking night,” said Wong. “We’re bringing that to the table.” The goal is that the evening will facilitate discussion and help students make connections in fashion.

     The second day of Fashion Week is a talk featuring various panel speakers. It will take place on March 29 at SFU Surrey, room SUR 2600 from 6–8 p.m.  According to Wong, this year’s theme for Fashion Week is multiculturalism, and the aim of this talk is to provide a platform for speakers to discuss the topics relating to multiculturalism and the fashion industry. The speakers have not been finalized at the time of publication, but people ranging from students, to designers, to business owners, to activists are possible panelists. As Wong put it, “We want to give the opportunity to anybody from anywhere to speak on social issues, because we realize that a lot of these social issues come from smaller communities . . .” After the speeches, there will be a discussion period. Food and drink will be provided.

     The third and final day of Fashion Week will be a runway-style fashion show. It will take place on March 30 from 6:30–8:30 p.m.; the projected location is Pal Studio Theatre. The fashion show itself is intended to showcase “grassroots designers” around Vancouver and BC. As Wong put it, “They don’t always have the monetary funding to showcase their clothing in bigger fashion shows.” After the fashion show there will be a mansion after-party — tickets for the party will be sold separately from fashion show tickets.

     This year there are slated to be 10 designers participating. Last year there were around half that number according to Wong. “In terms of scale we’re really making it double the size . . . This is the first year where it’s really gone national.”

     SFU fashion week, of course, was started at SFU, and is now gaining attention outside the province. “Our founder, Kayode Fatoba, he’s an entrepreneur that is a grad student from SFU . . . he started Fashion Week five years ago. This is the first year where we’ve spread our platform to schools around Canada as far as University of Toronto, who’s having their own fashion show under the same platform.”

     When asked about Fashion Week’s plans for the future, Wong expanded, “In terms of nationwide expansion, we’re trying to get to schools all around the world, so we have UBC, we have U of T right now. We want to expand to other schools like U of Alberta, like — maybe even Dalhousie.” He went on to say, “In terms of further on the horizon we want to expand to international schools, because we recognize that not all the universities around the world recognize fashion as such a big industry, and especially schools like SFU that [don’t] really focus on art and fashion as much as they do other academic subjects . . . Fashion is rarely touched upon career-wise . . .”

     For new designers that want to get involved, there are several designer packages that SFU Fashion Week offers. They have different options aimed at startups and established companies alike. “We’re really inclusive in terms of how big the brands are gonna be, it doesn’t really matter if you just started the company like a couple months ago, or you’ve been an established company,” said Wong. If you’re a student who is low on funds there is a free package that includes 10 models, and a shout-out on all their social media platforms. At higher levels, they provide a booth, and a pop-up shop as well.

The ticket price for students is $25. For non-students the cost is $50. This excludes the price of the after party — which is an additional $25, and includes a ride from the fashion show on their party bus, or $10 if you have your own transportation. Visit their Eventbrite page for more information.