Toronto Fashion Week is just wrapping up. It’s not only a time for veteran designers to show their latest wares but an opportunity for up-and-comers to display their chops too. It’s happening on the small screen as well, thanks to Stitched.
Credit Corus Entertainment for some great timing; Stitched is debuting this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Slice when Fashion Week is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Hosted by Canadian fashion model and actress Kim Cloutier and judged by fashion veteran Joe Zee and Elle Canada editor-in-chief Vanessa Craft, Stitched challenges North American designers to be creative with unique materials (Sunday’s debut boasts fun faux fur) while under a serious time crunch.
Each instalment finds four designers going head-to-head in a trio of themed challenges. Each test is followed by judging under the scrutiny of Zee, Craft and a rotating panel of guest judges including Hayley Elsaesser, Kirk Pickersgill and Stephen Wong, Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan, and Ania B. The one contestant left standing in each of the 12 episodes will pocket $10,000.
We spoke to Zee and Craft about why they got involved in the project and what viewers can expect when they tune in.
Vanessa, you’re the editor of Elle Canada and well-established in the industry. What attracted you to Stitched? Were you interested in doing TV?
Vanessa Craft: Well mostly, I’m asked to do appearances or speak on fashion trends and things like that on television programs or news programs. It’s something I’m definitely comfortable with. When it came to Stitched, it’s a no-brainer. It was actually getting to see something I love, fashion created right in front of us because I would be able to support the designers who are in various stages of their careers. Which is also something I love to do because you want to support talent in whatever way that you can. I was just really, really attracted to not only the premise of the show, but the construct is getting to meet so many different designers over a period of 12 episodes.
Joe, how about you?
Joe Zee: Well, I grew up in Toronto. This is my hometown. Then, I get moved to New York and I’ve been there now for like what, almost 30 years. I love supporting anything that is Canadian homegrown. I’m so glad to have been come from here and all this. Any time anyone calls, I’m always very intrigued and excited about being able to participate. And, when I got the call from Forté, the production company behind this, they had actually called me to do a guest judge on Project Runway Canada 10 years ago. I remember when I came to do it, in Ottawa, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, the production value is amazing.’ To this day, I talk about how great that show was, how great the production was, and I was like, ‘This is totally going to be spectacular. I’ve got to be a part of this.’ So, it was a no-brainer for me to just come back here after 30 years and to participate in fashion and at the same time know that it’s gonna be top quality and premium product.
And this is an incredible prize, I mean, $10,000 being given away each week. That’s a life changer for some people, right Joe?
JZ: Oh, I mean, it makes me wanna go learn how to sew. I mean, it’s incredible. The reality is that you can come to a show and really show off your talent and promote who you are as a designer. And potentially walk home with an incredible prize. I mean, who doesn’t want to see that?
Vanessa, do you really see winning as being able to further somebody’s career if they’re relatively new to the industry?
VC: Regardless of the stage you are in your career, because it’s not just the money, of course, it helps put a dent in the huge cost that it takes to run a fashion line and support yourself, but also, the exposure of the show is going to result in you ending up with so many people seeing what you’re doing, so many people coming into social meetings to find you, so many people who might even want to buy your clothes. I think it’s wonderful to see the difference between having designers that are established and shown at Toronto Fashion Week, and designers that maybe are self-taught, and learned on YouTube, or from someone in their family, or something like that. So, yeah, I think the money’s incredibly important, but it doesn’t really matter only about the money.
Clothes are an art and art is subjective. Joe, what do you look for when you’re looking at a design from somebody?
JZ: I love this question. We have posited it so much in the last year or two and I think the reality’s like, it is subjective and we keep saying that that’s what fashion is, but it’s such an emotional connection with clothes that it never really is, no pun intended, black or white. And, a lot of times, what I like, Vanessa might not, and what Vanessa likes, I might not, and that’s OK. Neither of us is wrong or right. We are here to guide, really the designer and also everybody watching. It’s just what our personal feelings are. I don’t really have a checklist. Yes, of course, we look for good construction and credible creativity, a vision, a point of view. But there were times, literally, when we walked out with their creation. I was like, ‘Man that’s not well made. It’s not really constructed well, I’m not sure … I will tell you that I still love it. I kinda like what you’re intending to do. You just didn’t have time, your execution fell short, but what you’ve put in there, the idea, it was really a winning idea.’
VC: I think that’s a truly great question because we’re essentially looking at something that is subjective, so how do you know whether it’s good or not? Well, it’s a combination of instinct, of course. It’s a combination of your taste. It’s a combination of what drives you. But I do think what fashion is supposed to make you feel, what fashion’s supposed to represent is that you get the message you take to world about yourself, and that is up to you. And for Joe and I to say, ‘This works for me or this doesn’t work for me,’ yes, it’s just an opinion. It’s an informed opinion and it’s very important. And it’s also an opinion where we’ve seen a lot. At the end of the day, it’s really coming down to do they grab our emotion? Do we have an emotional connection to the fact the designer’s trying to say, to the story the designer’s trying to tell, does the designer have a point?
Stitched airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Slice.
Image courtesy of Corus Entertainment.
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