Startup Fashion Week Heads to the Virtual Runway

Toronto tourist destinations are the backdrop for 'Travel Chic' themed event

A global pandemic hasn’t stopped aspiring designers from making an impact on the fashion world. This year’s Startup Fashion Week will highlight some of the most creative and inspiring new fashion designers from across Canada. The event, which begins July 12, will feature both virtual and in-person opportunities to experience the works of budding fashion designers and photographers.

Executive Producer Jodi Goodfellow launched the event in 2014 after experiencing a lack of investment opportunities for her startup. 

“I had a fashion startup and had a difficult time finding investors and opportunities to help my business grow,” she says noting many in the fashion world struggle to find the startup funds necessary for marketing and public relations exposure. She says Startup Up Fashion Week is an opportunity for new designers to make connections with investors and peers in the industry. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced this year’s event to move online, a challenge Goodfellow has met head-on. Traditional events like dinners and conferences that brought participants together for networking and idea exchanging have been transformed into virtual events with a focus on creating high-quality editorial opportunities for designers and photographers. 

“The theme this year is ‘Travel Chic’. We had to find a hook. I knew it had to be something I love so we decided to do this theme since we miss travel,” says Goodfellow, adding she wanted to use this year’s event to highlight how the fashion and event industry has been impacted by COVID-19. 

Photoshoots have been arranged at some of Toronto’s most popular tourist destinations including The Waverley, Steam Whistle Brewery, Grand Bazaar Beach Club and Chinatown. 

“The event industry has been hit hard and no one is talking about it,” she says. “So we chose photoshoots at venues that are related to our theme.”

“We are focusing on editorial-style shots. Designers need a lot of valuable content for their business. We want to make sure they walk away with a return on their investment,” she says. The photoshoots will allow designers to build their portfolios and create marketing content that can often be cost-prohibitive without significant investment from outside investors. 

The public will also get a chance to enjoy Startup Fashion Week in a variety of creative ways, including behind-the-scenes live streams and ongoing social media content throughout the event. Goodfellow says this year they wanted to find new ways of using the virtual element of event creation. 

Startup Fashion week offers a circuit-style event platform with constantly changing venues and experiences for both participants and viewers. Fashion lovers can get a preview of all the events happening at Startup Fashion Week by checking out billboards located at Yonge and Dundas Square, which feature many of the designers and sponsors. Previews are also happening now on the Startup Fashion Week social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. 

Goodfellow says she is eager to see the world get back to normal with a return to runway shows and traditional fashion events.

“It’s not a normal year, but people are so on board and excited about it,” she says. “This year has pushed us to be creative and think outside the box and there are some very cool things that have come out of it. We are very excited.”

Check out the entire Startup Fashion Week schedule at