Meet The TFI New Labels Finalists

Four designers faced off for a chance to win the grand prize of Toronto Fashion Incubator's New Labels contest: a Target capsule collection & $25,000.

Roll over the image to see who’s who among the finalists and their models
Photo by Norman Wong

Every year, Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels Fashion Design competition awards money and mentoring to one designer. With FLARE as a media partner, this year’s prize was $25,000 donated by Suzanne Rogers and the chance to produce a capsule collection for Target. Here, breaking models wear designs by the finalists (out of over two dozen entrants), who showed on a runway at a gala for the industry who’s who. At night’s end, one would win.

1. Paria Shirvani (Model: Aluad, Plutino Group)

Shirvani, 30, was driven to launch her own, eponymous collection by her first corporate job out of Ryerson University: assisting in product development for a company whose garments were made overseas. Longing for more soul, she decided to make her sleek workwear with animal-friendly faux fur and leather, locally. The results, though, are more creative-class CEO than freelancing vegan: “It’s for risk takers with a strong sense of themselves to pave the way for new office dressing.”

2. Sarah Stevenson (Model: Latonya, Elite)

While working on her master’s in textile and clothing design at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Stevenson, now 32, discovered digital printing and found her fashion voice. The technique allows her to merge her love of painting with the craft of garment making. “I design the fabric first,” she says, “then I design a silhouette to emphasize the print.” Her “deceptively simple” lithe, feminine skirts, blouses and dresses “have to be perfect in the seams and the way they fall.”

3. SEVENTHIRTYONE By Husrevoglu/Maiko (Model: Ishie, Elmer Olsen)

Like Erdem, Defne Husrevoglu, 25, has Barbie to thank for her first foray into fashion: “I wasn’t allowed to use the sewing machine when I was little, so I resorted to stapling her outfits.” Today, alongside marketing director Maiko Suzuki, 28, she has a little more to work with, cutting natural fabrics like cotton and cashmere into voluminous pieces inspired by the lines of Toronto architecture and boat sails, and the muted shades of Canadian lakes and clouds. Husrevoglu’s early draping techniques can still be seen; her sculptural, Japanese-style line is made entirely without fasteners.

4. Christopher Paunil (Model: Kelsey, Elite)

Paunil and his business manager, Chalo Barrueta, both 30, have been producing custom bridal and evening wear since 2010. Their debut ready-to-wear collection for New Labels, inspired by Valentino and Dior, includes artfully pleated, sliced body-con dresses, often with net insets, in black, white or the palest pink, along with sharp little tailored blazers and trim trousers. “When a person wears one of my pieces 10 years down the road,” he says, “I don’t think someone will look at it and say, ‘Hey, that looks like something from 2013.'”

Find out who won the $25,000 prize in Miranda Purves’ interview with the winner.