Design Forward 2016 Highlights

Yesterday, on June 16, 2016, Fashion Takes Action presented the very first Design Forward at The Artscape Sandbox in downtown Toronto, a runway event featuring progressive Canadian designers who keep ethics and sustainability in mind without sacrificing style. The criteria for designers, according to the Design Forward website, were:

  • Locally made
  • Fair Trade
  • Use of organic, sustainable or recycled fabrics
  • Upcycled or repurposed
  • Natural, non toxic dyes
  • Zero Waste
  • Slow Fashion (not mass produced, quality-made garments)

Out of the over 30 designers who applied, 10 were accepted and showcased 3 looks each, and 3 “emerging designers” presented one look. There’s a lot I could say about each of those, but I think I might just leave you to browsing the #DesignForward2016 hashtag on Instagram. Here, I want to go over some of my favourite moments from the night.

(Side note: Because I was unable to get non-blurry pictures for all designers, I’ve decided to feature some other photos/videos I found under the show’s hashtag on Instagram, to give all the credit to those accounts. Those that aren’t from Instagram are my own photos).

Peggy Sue Collection Inc.


This designer was the best possible way to start off the show. Each look was cozy, earth-toned, and maintained a subtle sophistication, embracing the Canadian spirit with style. All garments are grown, weaved, sown and detailed in North America. They are also completely transparent about every piece of their supply chain, as shown here.

Asikere Afana

A touch of West Africa made an appearance at the show, drawing smiles from the audience with it’s vibrant colours and refreshing floral prints. I can’t say that I really have a bold enough personality to wear any of the pieces with confidence, but I most definitely can admire them. Made using fair trade practices in Ghana.

Marie Copps

Marie Copps, one of the highlights at the Design Forward 2016 runway show, hosted by Fashion Takes Action | The Curious Button


Not just a fashion designer, Marie Copps is also a photographer and fine artist, and this is clearly visible in her design work. Her looks were by far the most luxurious of the night, featuring statement headpieces, mermaid hems and lots of glitz and sparkle (something I will always be a fan of). One side note: I can’t seem to figure out where the sustainability aspect comes in. No doubt that this is definitely not mass produced, and from the looks of it appears to be handmade in Canada using some recycled materials, but I would love to see a more explicit statement about this somewhere on the website.



Preloved seems more like a brand than a designer, but nonetheless, I loved their looks. One was oozing some serious festival vibes (see photo above), as well as other everyday looks with some bohemian flair. Designed and manufactured in Canada, using vintage, dead-stock and overrun fabrics.


TMR, one of the highlights of the Design Forward 2016 runway show | The Curious Button

I absolutely loved this one. Maybe it was the clean lines in unexpected places. Maybe it was the perfect balance between fashion as art and fashion as a wearable garment. Maybe it was the subtle futuristic look. Whatever they’re doing, they’re doing it right. The collections feature locally sourced fabrics, as well as versatile and timeless pieces.

Special Mention: JuliYeh


No summary of Design Forward 2016 would be complete without mentioning the amazing Lady Tremaine’s Dress made of bicycle inner tubes. This edgy yet surprisingly regal piece had jaws dropping right, left, and center. This was not showcased on the runway, but her website also holds other various “trashformations” featuring other materials such as water bottles, plastic bags, bubble wrap and fishing line.

What were your favourite looks of Design Forward 2016? Let me know in the comments below.

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