The third annual Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA) ceremony takes place in Toronto on April 15, with Canada’s fashion elite gathering to celebrate the best and brightest designers, models, image makers, stylists and influencers in the industry.
According to its website, “CAFA was created to celebrate outstanding achievement and emerging talent in the Canadian fashion industry” with a mandate to “strengthen appreciation of Canadian talent both at home and abroad, the goal of CAFA as a national platform is to foster the next generation of Canadian talent through an annual awards show and year-round economic development initiatives.”
Hicham Ratnani, co-founder of nominated brand Frank & Oak, thinks CAFA is doing just that.
“It’s great that we have a forum such as CAFA to recognize what’s happening in the industry and there’s no doubt that fashion in Canada is evolving quite rapidly. I think it’s great that we step back and have a platform to celebrate some of the people that are standing out,” Ratnani told Humber News.
George Sully, co-founder of Toronto-based shoes and accessories brand Sully Wong, which is nominated for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Accessories, agrees that CAFA has had an impact on the industry.
“There’s a lots more to do when it comes to the Canadian fashion industry and CAFA, for its part, has only helped build support for our Canadian talent. We can all be proud of that,” said Sully.
As far as snagging a coveted nomination, Sully and business partner Henry Wong are understandably enthusiastic.
“We we’re both ecstatic about it.,” said Sully.
“We’re known to be a little ‘off the grid’ when it comes to the [fashion] scene, so it was nice to be recognized.”
Ratnani and Frank & Oak co-founder Ethan Song are equally excited to be honoured with two awards nominations.
“To be nominated in two categories is a very humbling experience. It’s something we take pride in so now we’re going to cross our fingers and hope we bring something home to the team!” said Ratnani.
Frank & Oak is being recognized in two categories: Menswear Designer of the Year Award and the Joe Fresh Fashion Innovation Award that will be presented to “a company that is innovating how we experience, consume or interact with fashion through technology.” For Frank & Oak, who have strategically focused on technology in tandem with their brick and mortar retail experience, the second nomination has particular significance.
“Our goal is to be the brand of the creative and millennial generation and technology’s a huge part of that, so it’s really about that mix between fashion, technology, design, and retail that we truly value,” said Ratnani.
Ratnani explained that technology has been at the heart of the company since its inception in both the customer’s online shopping and mobile experience.
“We always want to drive as much technology throughout the entire customer journey that’s not just about driving technology, but [exploring] how we can make the technology relevant for the customer so that the experience is actually better and differentiated.”
“There’s a lot that we do in our stores, on the apps, and on the website to make sure everything is truly an extensive and comprehensive experience where you don’t necessarily see the technology, but it makes things better,” Ratnani continued.
The 2016 CAFAs will be hosted by actress Kim Cattrall with special guest Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau.