Tips on Reaching Toronto’s Fabulous: Toronto Fashion Incubator and TNT Host Event

I was fortunate to recently attend an event co-hosted by the Toronto Fashion Incubator and TNT Boutique.

First, some context. 

Toronto Fashion Incubator (“TFI”) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping emerging Canadian fashion designers become viable businesses.  Established in 1987, TFI focuses on educating and supporting emerging designers on the business aspects of the fashion industry.  Critical topics like marketing, sales, business planning, exports and strategic business planning are addressed through a variety of programs (mentorship, seminars, private consultations).

TNT is one of Toronto’s meccas for the fashionable (and wealthy).  TNT, which celebrated its 20th anniversary, is proud to cater to 4 generations.  With several stores in Toronto and Montreal (one of which spans 14,000 square feet in Toronto’s prestigious Yorkville area), TNT serves its clientele with notably high quality and highly demanded fashion lines (Diane Von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, Theory, Elizabeth & James).  On several occasions Nicole Ritchie has attended TNT to launch her line, House of Harlow.

More than cocktails - the event was informative and inspiring...

TFI and TNT joined forces as Arie Assaraf, owner and buyer of TNT, shared his insight on what it takes to be a designer selling in his stores (an enviable and coveted feat).  Here’s a summary of what Arie had to say:

- Think of your fashion line as a closet.  Augment your closet with some trends, but don't forget about the classics.

- Each retailer has its own philosophy that attracts a different client base.  Keep that in mind when you are shopping your fashion line around.  Is there a natual fit?

- Success in the fashion industry is not based on luck.  You have to be knowledgable and you have to be constantly aware of what is happening in the industry.  There is no room for ego or a sense of entitlement.  A passion for your craft and an ability (and willingness) to change is key. 

- Avoid creating a fashion line that is overly nichey in terms of demographic, price point, style, or trend.  Don't carve yourself out of the main market.

- Be creative but be realistic.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.  Have long terms goals, but keep them attainable.
- One of the biggest downfalls of fashion designers is that they fail to think of themselves as a business from day one.  If you don't have the legal, business or financial acumen, outsource it.  Surround yourself with professionals so that you can focus on your creativity. 

Overall, the event was a great success.  Arie graciously provided his insights, which the designers devoured.  As a successful businessman, Arie's advice spans well beyond the fashion industry and can be applied to any entrepreneur.