The Canadian fashion industry has been shinning bright all season, and as the best in the industry gathered on April 15th at the third annual Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards to celebrate, we also sat down with CAFA President, Vicky Milner, to hear just how important CAFA is to the industry, and how she’d like to see CAFA’s role develop in the next few years.




DTK: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?


I have quite a dynamic background. I have been involved in an array of industries including fashion, retail, music, entertainment, and philanthropic management. I sit on the Board of FGI, Toronto and am involved in a variety of charities including SickKids, Baycrest and Oolagen.


DTK: How did you first get involved within the Fashion Industry?


Out of college, I got a job as a sales rep for various lines. I met a lot of great people in the industry then. Years later, my career took a different turn but I always really loved the industry and the creative talent in it. I was fortunate enough to come back to the industry that I started in. I am passionate about seeing the fashion industry get the attention it so richly deserves and expanding the market for our fashion design talent globally.


DTK: Can you tell us a bit about CAFA and how it came about?


CAFA started out of a real need to develop a platform that not only celebrates the industry but shines a global spotlight on it. We have incredible fashion talent in this country and we want everyone to know about it. We also want to help these designers with their businesses and help create a stronger fashion community that connects people. We want to create more opportunities for collaboration and partnership. In turn, this will bring about more promotion and economic development to the industry.


DTK: Why is CAFA important for the Canadian Fashion Industry?


CAFA is important because it helps designers create brand awareness. Through the Gala and other initiatives we are involved in around the country, CAFA provides a vehicle for great marketing and promotion of our talent. CAFA gets the public excited about our talent and creates an opportunity to learn more about them. Through this, CAFA also connects the fashion community together and provides new opportunities for growth and business development.


CAFA also strongly recognizes that our designers need mentorship. Many designers lack the business skills needed to grow their businesses into successful brands. CAFA aims to help them with their businesses and to provide access to industry veterans who can help provide strong business guidance and advice.


DTK: Where do you see CAFA one year from now? 5 years from now?


In one year we want to see CAFA gain more global awareness and to have created more partnerships with like minded organizations around the world like the CFDA and the British Fashion Council. I would also love to see increased engagement within the fashion innovation and technology space. It’s an ever growing area we would love to be more involved with.


By creating a strong foundation of support, in 5 years from now I would love to see success stories of many designers we have helped along the way. I would love to see stories of inspiration, growth and development. I would also love to see CAFA develop very strong programs that help touch various facets of the industry including more mentorship, educational opportunities.

I would also like to also see some funding support come through the government as we grow and develop our mandate of economic development for the industry.




DTK: Can you share with us your favorite CAFA moment thus far?


My favourite CAFA moments are when people find out they have won and say their acceptance speeches. I love to hear people’s stories and how they got to where they are. It’s always a humbling moment filled with joy and authenticity.


DTK: What were you most looking forward to this year?


This year I was looking most forward to seeing everyone come together. Every year we get bigger and bigger and attract such an incredible dynamic crowd. The energy, spirit and pride for the industry in the room is always electrifying to me and I love seeing the camaraderie. Many people know each other but also many new connections are made. I love to see that happen at the event. I also always look forward to seeing the fashion and style, of course. Everyone comes out looking incredible and the best part is they are all wearing Canadian!


DTK: Can you share an example or an instance in which CAFA has shed light on Canadian talent?


CAFA does many things to shed light on Canadian talent. Every Friday we post about new emerging designers in this country on our blog, we also do a spotlight series on various established designers throughout the week. As soon as our nominees list comes out we work very hard in promoting them and creating opportunities with the media to highlight their brands and stories.



DTK: Lastly, can you tell us who you wore at this year’s event?


I wore Lucian Matis to the gala this year. I think he is an exceptional talent who will only get bigger and bigger in the years to come.