INLAND, launched in 2014 as a bi-annual popup event that has since showcased over 500 fashion and accessory labels from across Canada, is back in action this weekend after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
The curated fashion marketplace is returning with a three-day popup from May 6 to May 8 at Toronto’s Design Exchange at 234 Bay Street, featuring over 40 of Canada’s most defining brands, including Bano eeMee, Eliza Faulkner, Anne Dahl, Ayimach Horizons, Hotpot Variety, and Selfish Swimwear among others.
Sarah Power, Founder & Creative Director, INLAND, said the initiative’s mission is to make it easy to discover, shop and feel good about everyday wardrobe decisions while empowering Canadian fashion creatives.
New this season, INLAND is joining forces with Fashion Art Toronto, which will present runway shows from 40 Canadian designers alongside fashion-inspired art installations, she said.
“INLAND is a platform for Canadian designers that exists both online and in person as a bi-annual popup. It originally was a popup that took place twice a year and with the pandemic I transitioned the company to launch an online ecomm platform. So it’s a multi-vendor marketplace, well curated, and I launched that actually in partnership with Hudson’s Bay who was the affiliate marketing partner for the first three months of this launch which was really exciting,” said Power.
“There’s been a really strong recognition over the last several years of the vital importance of investing in local, sustainable design. And it’s been at the centre of our mission since the beginning – to promote under-represented brands that offer small batch, sustainable production at high quality.
“After two long years, we’re thrilled to return to our in-person roots, welcoming designers from 10 cities across Canada. We look forward to connecting in-person once again.”
INLAND visitors can enter the Design Exchange free of charge to shop for apparel and accessories from over 40 Canadian designers on the third floor. A full list can be found here. Tickets to attend Fashion Art Toronto’s runway shows can be purchased at fashionarttoronto.ca.
The INLAND popup hours are: Friday May 6 from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Saturday May 7 from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday May 8 from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
“My focus from the get-go has been on sustainability, fashion that’s going to last and also trying to make a difference with what I do,” he said. “My background I am from Pakistan originally and I wanted to sort of support artisans and create job opportunities there. That’s in the DNA of the brand. So no matter what product I make or design there’s always the element of working with smaller factories, artisans, where we can uplift them to providing them work and also education and training so they can work with other companies as well to create world-class products.
“INLAND is coming back after COVID. It has become a great place for a lot of emerging local Canadian talent from across the country to showcase their products, their designs. It’s unfortunate because of COVID that didn’t happen.
“In-person events are great on two levels. I haven’t been able to see and interact with customers directly due to COVID for some time. So this gives an opportunity again to reconnect with your friends, people who have been supporting the brand for so long. And at a more personal level, that’s pretty awesome. And it’s also an indication of how things are going to be normal again. There’s that element of hope. But in general I think events like this are tremendous because they give you a lot of exposure, you connect with people, with consumers who are interested in small fashion, they’re interested in smaller businesses, they’re interested in the stories and the products that make us who we are. I enjoy events like this. You get to relay that story and they’re not getting that through a third party as a retailer. They’re getting that directly from the horse’s mouth so to speak. It’s a great way to tell your story, share your passion with your consumers, with your customers.”
Arif said it also supports the movement of people caring about where products come from and how they are made – quality versus quantity.
The Fashion Art Toronto’s runway shows will feature contemporary and experimental collections from Canadian creators including Charles Lu, L’Uomo Strano by Mic. Carter, House of Etiquette, H.Y.L.A, Neoteny Apparel, TheBabaGang and more.
“Fashion Art Toronto and INLAND share the same goal — to support and shine a spotlight on Canadian fashion designers and artisans. Joining forces for the 2022 event felt natural. We can’t wait to welcome people to the Design Exchange this May, where they can watch dynamic runway shows, shop local brands and socialize with friends. It’s going to be an incredible celebration of Canadian fashion,” said Vanja Vasic, founder and executive director, Fashion Art Toronto.
Power said that since its inception INLAND has showcased more than 500 fashion and accessory labels from across Canada. It expanded in 2020 to include a curated selection of brands on madeinland.ca.
“It’s such an invaluable experience for the designer to have that face to face connection with the customer. There’s so many ripple effects to that. Return rates are reduced. Customer optimization. Conversion optimization rates are much higher. It’s very expensive to be doing this online. It’s an expensive and competitive endeavor,” she said.
“Being able to complement that with an in-person experience directly connecting with the customer is exponentially valuable to the brand. There’s a higher rate of return for that. We’re all really excited. INLAND is really a community. Being able to connect with each other, the designers across Canada, there’s some coming from Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, lots of high value for them as well.”