Canadian Fashion and Apparel Event INLAND Finds Success Virtually Amid COVID-19

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Canadian retail platform INLAND has navigated the uncertain waters of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing independent, Canadian brands with a platform to share their stories, all in the hopes of maintaining brand awareness and cultivating community during these uncertain times.

In the wake of COVID-19 and the news that the Canadian fashion and apparel event ‘INLAND’ was to be cancelled this past spring, the organization saw an opportunity to virtually promote those who need it most. Allowing a variety of Canadian brands to ‘takeover’ its Instagram platform for a day, INLAND’s #DailyDesignerStory series has given brands a place to spotlight themselves, while also creating a safe space to tell stories about their individual COVID-induced trials and tribulations.

Since lockdown hit mid-March, each day a new designer has been given free reign on INLAND’s Instagram page for 24 hours. With room to showcase products, talk about the brand’s ethos, and discuss the hurdles imposed by COVID-19, designers have been able to expand their reach to consumers, both new and old. Their stories are then saved to the highlight reel on INLAND’s Instagram page for followers to return to at a later date if they wish.

Recently, INLAND featured posts from an array of industry leaders and experts, all of whom spoke about their own personal stories and shared some insights into what might be next for the Canadian fashion landscape. Some notable names include Kelly Drennan, Fashion Takes Action; Sage Paul, Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto; Kate Mullin, Vancouver Fashion Week; Vanja Vasic, Fashion Art Toronto; Vicky Milner, Canadain Arts & Fashion Awards; Angela Campagnoni, Atlantic Fashion Week.

Sarah Power, INLAND’s Founder and Director, describes INLAND as “a community where shoppers and local brands come together to celebrate the Canadian story through a fresh assortment of mindfully-made, local fashion, accessories, and jewelry. The goal is to transform shopping into a meaningful shared experience and to increase awareness about local fashion options that value people, the planet and personal style in equal measure”.

Currently held as a biannual event, INLAND showcases emerging Canadian designers by providing an elevated in-person shopping platform for brands that otherwise largely rely on direct-to-consumer sales. “Canadian-based retailers and designers have to work very hard to get noticed, and I find that interesting considering Canada is a global leader in conscious, diversity-driven style,” says Power. “We live in such a multi-cultural, creative country where people are launching some of the most innovative businesses — all of which deserve to be at the forefront of consumer investment. INLAND is a highly-curated, thoughtful selection of brands that aims to elevate our extraordinary local talent and redirect spending back towards the Canadian economy.”

Launched in 2014, INLAND is a free public event in downtown Toronto and features up to 70 Canadian brands for both the spring event in May and again for the fall event — which typically happens in September, although this year may look a little different depending on the status of COVID come the end of summer.

In its six years , INLAND has showcased over 500 Canadian brands from across the country including Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax. “INLAND gives brands the opportunity to connect face-to-face with customers, which is often vital for building loyal relationships with customers, while also generating media attention for the fashion community” says Power, “the event is highly-experiential and this May, because the event was cancelled, I had to think of another way for designers to connect with customers. Our Instagram takeover’s are intimate and genuine. This digital learning has proven to be new direction for INLAND. Plans to launch a permanent online Canadian designer ecommerce platform are definitely in motion.”

Dedicated to supporting local talent and domestic industries, INLAND also focuses heavily on promoting ethical and sustainable brands. Quite often the brands involved operate on a small scale, selling made-to-order and small-batch products, generally all sourced within Canada.


View this post on Instagram


#DailyDesignerStory ✨ Just wanted to take a pause to say how inspiring it is been to connect with so many amazing, uplifting female entrepreneurs through this IG Takeover series. We’re smiling big time over here with gratitude and deep respect for your energy, beauty and determination. . . Today, Corrine, founder and designer for Toronto-based @biko_official takes us through her studio and shares a bit about her DAILY HERO project and how BIKO is donating 15% of sales to the @secondharvestca COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. . . Follow along everyday to hear what Canadian designers are up to right now as they navigate business and creativity during lockdown. This week, we’ll also hear from 3 designers who are stuck isolating overseas. . . Today @biko_official Wed @slush_b * From Amsterdam Thur @henandbear Fri @unlikeofficial * From the Philippines Sat @shopzafira * From Bahamas Sun @sonyalee_official

A post shared by INLAND (@made_inland) on

In the wake of reopening and the beginning of the ‘new normal’, INLAND’s ‘Daily Designer Series’ will soon come to an end.

“We’ve heard stories about being stuck in quarantine overseas, about shifting production to make PPE, donation efforts, collaborations, financial loss, cancelled orders, decreased sales — the list of impacts and changes goes on and on. It’s been a very challenging time for everyone. The common theme in everyone’s story however has been a genuine sense of optimism about how — as creators and consumers — we have the opportunity to build a better, more meaningful future based on mutual respect, diversity, and connectedness — with each other and to the environment.

Hearing these stories has really highlighted how much our individual choices and actions have massive societal and global consequences. Fashion operates on creativity and change. It’s the most personal and expressive way for us to visually articulate who we are and what we care about — which is why this moment in time is so critical.”

Whilst there’s no denying that COVID has done a lot of harm, it’s clear that INLAND has achieved what it initially set out to do, proving that the Canadian retail landscape is more inovative, resilient, and connected than perhaps ever before.

To view the designer stories, visit INLAND’s Instagram page @made_inland.

Article Author

Jessica Finch
Jessica Finch
Jessica Finch is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She holds a BA in English and Psychology and is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Publishing program. She has extensive managerial experience in the food service industry, and is interested in exploring innovations within this sector and other retail environments.

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