Susan Langdon – Jury Member

During a career that has spanned over 30 years, Susan Langdon has demonstrated the kind of enthusiasm and devotion to the fashion industry that has garnered constant recognition.
A native Torontonian, Susan graduated from the Fashion Design program at Ryerson University in 1977. Throughout a fulfilling 17-year career in fashion design, Susan received a number of prestigious design awards including the Concours Design Award and the Woolmark Award of Distinction.

In 1994, Susan’s strong interpersonal skills and leadership qualities, coupled with a comprehensive knowledge of the fashion industry and previous teaching experience, led her to her current position as Executive Director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI).

Her dedication to the Incubator and efforts to nurture, support and promote new, up-coming design talent has assisted in launching the careers of many now-known Canadian designers. She has generated media coverage from Toronto, New York, Dusseldorf, Dublin and Cape Town which has raised the profile of the TFI and heightened international awareness of Toronto’s vibrant design community.

CAFA: From your perspective, what has been the most prominent change you’ve observed in the evolution of fashion in Canada? What do you predict for the future of Canada as a global contender in the international fashion scene?

SL: Having worked in fashion for over 30 years, it has been amazing to witness the exponential growth of the industry. I think the catalyst was, and continues to be, the influx of fashion media starting with Fashion Television, Fashion File and later, shows such as Project Runway and Fashion Star, which brought fashion design and all of its glamour to the masses.

Ryerson and Sheridan were the only post-secondary schools in the GTA that offered fashion education (now there are five) and there were probably only two dozen top Canadian designers based primarily in Toronto and Montreal. Now, there are countless numbers of talented designers located across the country in emerging fashion centres such as Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax. Canadian fashion designers are known worldwide for offering excellent quality mixed with European-influenced design and North American practicality.

Canada is already earning a reputation as a great place to set up shop and I see this trend continuing. The strong Canadian economy and our apparently insatiable appetite for shopping will lure many more fashion retailers from the US and abroad to our country. I can only hope that the current movement towards ethical product sourcing and locally-made goods will continue and that it will encourage retailers to buy Canadian. If this happens, it would have a very positive economic impact on the Canadian fashion scene.

CAFA: The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards were named to highlight the artful nature of fashion as a craft. What does the concept of “fashion as art” mean to you?

SL: When I think of “Fashion as Art”, I think of clothing and accessories that go beyond the basic. It’s not the little black dress; it’s the LBD 2.0 that someone has designed with great consideration to cut, texture and innovation. When a designer captures that perfect blend, fashion truly becomes art and it’s exciting and exhilarating.

CAFA: What are some of the challenges (if any) that you’ve faced as a Canadian in the fashion industry and what advice would you give to aspiring young fashion professionals?

SL: If you want to succeed in business, whether it’s fashion or any other industry, you need to love what you do. If you love what you do, you’ll be passionate about it and that passion will help you to succeed. It will drive your ambition, it will make you problem-solve outside of the box, it will inspire others and it will lead you to achieve your dreams.

CAFA: What excites you most about CAFA as a national initiative?

SL: I’m excited to support CAFA as we are long overdue for a prestigious, national awards platform for fashion in Canada. Our best talents need to be recognized, applauded and rewarded because when individuals succeed, so does our entire industry.

By: Alexandra Thais Serrano