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photos by Mico Mazza

Ottawa Fashion Week brings out the city’s most stylish

FOR THREE DAYS, Ottawa’s most fashionable clamoured for entry into Ottawa Fashion Week (OFW). This year’s event was revamped and upgraded from past fashion weeks. With a relocation to the brand new Ottawa Convention Centre, the use of live entertainment between shows, and attracting famous and internationally acclaimed designers, OFW has made its mark on Canada’s fashion scene.

OFW isn’t competing with neighbouring cities and trying to display the latest styles first; it’s more about establishing itself and helping out local fashion.

“Toronto and Montreal are completely different and no one really compares them [to Ottawa],” says Christine Achampong, OFW’s public relations coordinator.

“I feel like we aren’t in here to compete. We’re in here to enhance the Ottawa fashion scene, as well as expose [a] local audience to fashions that are out in Canada and … the international platform.”

A record number of fashion fans turned out to support OFW and check out the designers’ latest collections this year, but much of the success in attracting these big names can be attributed to timing on OFW’s part.

“I think it was just time. People were looking for bigger names to come out to Ottawa, and bigger names were actually looking for us. Some of the designers … actually sought us out, asking us if they could show, rather than the other way around. So it was a really big compliment,” Achampong says.

By showcasing local talent on the catwalk, the success of the event, along with the opening of new stores in Ottawa, helped repeal Ottawa’s stigma of being an unfashionable place.

“I definitely think that [an] event like ours and the recent retail openings in the downtown core are kind of signifying a shift from … the boring, old government town to a new [and] vibrant city that has lots of culture, lots of art, [and] lots of life,” says  Achampong.

Being a government town may be considered Ottawa’s Achilles heel, but to Achampong and other designers, this may be a blessing in disguise. According to Achampong, designers wanted to show in Ottawa because it is a city that is relatively safe economically.

“I think that there is a sudden      awakening that Ottawa is a city that can not only afford these fashions, but we’re probably the least affected city by the recession just because we are such a government town and jobs are so stable,” she explains.

Fashion is constantly changing, evolving, and being reinvented, and OFW organizers would argue their event is doing the same. So what can people expect for the upcoming show in February 2012?

“We haven’t really decided what we’re doing next, but I know we have gotten a lot more interest from international designers, so that’s something that we’re definitely going to have to focus on,” says Achampong.

“I am sure that it will be almost bigger and even better than what was done this season.”

—Sofia Hashi