What does Ottawa look like?


For starters, we haven’t earned our reputation as a staid government town, said the director of Ottawa Fashion Week.


“There’s definitely an identity in Ottawa,” said Hussein Rashid. “Every time you look at it, you see something different. You see different styles wherever you go. In many cities, there is a bias towards one type of fashion, but here in Ottawa, you get a large variety,” he continued.


“We have an amazing collage of fashion here because the interests are so scattered.”


Launching at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Ottawa Arts Court and running through Saturday, fashion week here will be like holding up a mirror to Ottawa, Rashid said.

“We want to show the city what it looks like,” he said.

Unlike some fashion events, Ottawa Fashion Week aims to be as inclusive as possible, with invites going out to council members, MPs, industry buyers, boutique owners, bloggers and even local high school students, who Rashid calls “the future” of fashion.

In addition to spotlighting the fashion industry in Ottawa, the event also aims “to provide local artists, designers with a local venue, so they don’t have to travel,” Rashid said. “We’re trying to create a venue where art industry, including designers, musicians, artists, photographers and models can have a stage to perform... we want people to feel like there is a market here, and that they can plan a future here that incorporates fashion.”

And with fashion schools at Richard Robinson and Algonquin College, there are lots of up-and-coming designers here.

Thousands of people are expected to attend Ottawa Fashion Week, which features 12 fashion shows with local, national and international designers, all featuring ready-to-wear lines, and a marketplace open to the public.

Internationally-renowned menswear designer Ralph Leroy wants “people to realize that it's not just a small city... it's full of opportunity," said Leroy, who showcases his collection on Friday.