New, Unconventional and Upcycled Materials at |FAT| Fashion Art Toronto 2017

Fashion Art Toronto, one of Toronto’s largest and most versatile fashion shows, went out with a bang this year.

|FAT| 2017 showcased some of Toronto’s most unique and innovative fashion designers. We at Raw Finery Studio wanted to examine how new materials, technologies and processes have changed and influenced designers’ self-expression on the runway. As we discovered, new (and old) materials and techniques are having a major impact on shaping the designs and styles we are seeing coming out of the fashion community.

  • Raven Court Clothing combines "classic glamour, with innovations in textiles, machinery, and techniques."

Toronto is a prime location for the exploration and development of new techniques. Although once a historical manufacturing site, the migration of clothing manufacture overseas and the subsequent decline in domestic production have left the city lacking in large-scale local production. This may be a blessing in disguise for upcoming designers, as there is no entrenched mode of production or status quo, which leaves the door wide open to innovation, experimentation and disruptive technologies.

One such technology is laser cutting, a process by which a laser is used to make intricate cuts in a fabric based on a digital pattern. The advent of new manufacturing technologies like laser cutters can allow designers to create small or medium-run clothing lines locally by reducing the amount of human hours required to perform such intricate cuts. Designers My85 and Tala Nehlawi both prominently featured laser cutting in their lines.

Digital design, laser cutting, wearable LEDs and, surprisingly, upcycling, all present new opportunities for local designers to innovate with new techniques and technologies.

Sometimes the newest ideas come from something old. New trends in materials don’t just include the latest scientific innovations, they also include repurposing unusual materials that already exist. Part of the most modern mindset about materials includes thinking about what to do with waste. The topic of recycling, upcycling, repurposing and conservation came up over and over again at this year’s show. Designers Fred&Bean and Xue Liang, and installation artists Susan Avishai and Sabine Spare all addressed repurposing waste materials and environmental awareness in their works.

Latex design has continued to increase in popularity in its traditional form as fetish attire and, increasingly, in more mainstream looks. Toronto is a major hub for latex designers, including House of Etiquette who participated in this year’s show.

Not all fashion is created for everyday wear. Some of it is a work of fantasy and imagination, a costume created to bring a fictional character into the real world. Amplify Apparel demonstrated the use of unconventional materials including their signature wearable wire sculptures in their theatrical costumes. Justine Latour and My85 both experimented with plastic panels worn as a conceptual wearable sculpture. And Padina Bondar’s lit LED dress incorporated batteries and electronics for an brilliant effect.

At Raw Finery Studio we are creating a flexible, collaborative workspace that encourages creativity and innovation. If you are interested in becoming part of a community of designers, artists and entrepreneurs working together to explore new innovations, processes, and modes of production visit our website at or email us at to inquire about viewing or booking the studio.