Interview: Jamal Abdourahman, Producer of Vancouver Fashion Week

It’s not just London, Milan, Paris and New York that offer a playground of fashion talent. Vancouver is hot on their heels…

How did the idea for VFW come about?

I was at Paris Fashion Week in the early 1990s, attending shows and meeting designers. I was inspired by the energy, the excitement, and the talent that the event brought to the city and the shows themselves. That energy, and diversity of designers and collections, was something I wanted to bring to Vancouver.

What designers have you got lined up this season?

We have close to 60 in total – some wonderful talent coming from all over the world, including London (Xsenia&Olya, Tramp in Disguise), Sao Paulo, Tokyo, New York City, Seoul and Delhi.

Is it important to feature and support as many homegrown designers as possible?

While we do include some really great local talent, our focus for VFW is to be an international gathering place for designers from all reaches of the globe. Our mission is to help promote and give exposure to emerging talents.

Is there a particular designer that we might not have heard about yet in London, that is lined up for loud and exciting collections to come?

Taisuke Kohji from Tokyo is definitely one to watch.

What attracts you to other fashion weeks; are you a fan of the style coming out of London at the moment?

I’m attracted by the diverse talents at London and Paris fashion weeks in particular. London is the new hot spot, in my opinion, for emerging talents – I always look forward to seeing who’s coming out of Central St. Martins. I was in London last December/January and I was also really inspired by the street style.

What trend can we expect to be surprised by at Vancouver Fashion Week do you think?

Because VFW is international, the east, west, south and north are all coming together to create something completely unique. We hope to not only host, but to inspire those who show and attend.

What makes Vancouver Fashion Week special and unique from the rest?

Our focus on International talent, and our desire to find and promote emerging artists, rather than focus strictly on established names. That desire extends to our models as well. We look for up and coming faces. In fact, Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha walked for VFW for three seasons early in her career.

Do bloggers have a big influence and presence in Canada? What are your thoughts on fashion blogging too?

There are a handful of Canadian bloggers doing quite well, and we always encourage bloggers to cover our shows. It’s wonderful that independent voices have the ability to express their thoughts and promote what appeals to them. However, because of the casual nature of the medium, it’s important to remember that at times, the opinions may not be completely impartial.

How would you describe Canada’s general street style?

We’re a big country, so it really varies from city to city. Vancouver has a lot of L.A. influence – hipster, beach culture. Toronto is very industrial-eclectic, and Montreal has much more European flair.

Does runway style translate to Canada’s High Street heavily?

It does, indeed, but mainly because Canada’s High Street has all the global brands, like H&M, Zara, Club Monaco, etc. – brands who borrow quite profoundly from the catwalks.

Find out more about Vancouver Fashion Week on Facebook, Twitter and vanfashionweek.com

Words: Charles Matthews