Here’s What Went Down at the “Toronto Streetwear Mandem” Loft Party
The Toronto Streetwear Mandem Facebook group, spawned from the larger Reddit Streetwear community, is composed of a diverse range of individuals. Headed by Maxhole Edison, the group has been hosting increasingly popular meetups in the city. Their most recent gathering was a loft party featuring local streetwear vendors. Up for grabs was handcrafted apparel by Nova Supply, and branded sweaters, caps, tees, and towels by 50/50. Pop-up shop retail accounts for great promotion opportunities for start-ups, who have seen their consumer base grow through spur of the moment purchases and social media advertising.
Toronto’s streetwear scene has increasingly been on the rise in the international community, and social media and pop culture have had a huge role in shaping the city’s fashion rep. Despite last year’s cancellation of Toronto Fashion Week, the Canadian metropolis remains one of the hottest destinations to spot the flyest fits on the streets. Southern Ontario raised stars like Drake and Justin Bieber have been among the most influential figures in pop culture. That being said, the majority of partygoers agreed Drake puts on harder for the city, singing praises of his OVO collection and collaborations with Canada Goose and the Toronto Raptors.
“People from the US didn’t know shit about Toronto, they just thought we were living in igloos. Now you hear Americans talk about Toronto as a place to be,” commented Arqam Qayyum of Drake’s impact on Toronto’s global reputation.
On a smaller scale, youth streetwear culture in Toronto seeps through the downtown core, university campuses, and suburbs of the city. While fashion-minded individuals usually admire each other from a distance on the streets, online communities bring people together in unexpected ways. Currently the Toronto Streetwear Mandem group stands at about 500 members, but it is a highly active and tight-knit community that grows daily.
"I'm surprised there's no other group like this because so many people have come," Edison commented.
"The first Reddit post I made about this was like, ‘I see you fuccbois walking down Queen [St.], don't act like you can't come meet up’. I think if people really want this to become bigger, it definitely will. The way it’s going, I think that's happening.”
“The distinct seasons here gives everyone in this city more versatility in the way they put their outfits together. It requires more thought at different times of the year,” said Scarth about Toronto’s streetwear scene.
“We don’t really have any famous Toronto designers yet … so we have to put our outfits together using pieces from everywhere. We gather inspiration from Europe, New York, California.”
While events like this are obviously flexing opportunities, the party vibes were totally chill. Bass heavy music played as partygoers took photos at the mini studio setup, and others lingered at the bar or balcony facing the sparkling Toronto skyline. One room was filled with kids playing Super Smash Bros. and beer pong. It was at this location that photographer Rickie Truong was blessed with a fake Supreme brick won through a raffle (the real one is in the mail).
The crowd has glo’d up since their first meetup last year, with sensibilities evolving from logo heavy Supreme and Palace pieces to the emergence of more Rick Owens and Raf Simons apparel.
“People are being themselves more here… when people get involved with streetwear, they wanna do it to set themselves apart from others,” said photographer Myles Jay.
“It’s great because you get to talk to these people that are just like yourself, you connect with them, and that’s what I love about coming to stuff like this.”
“Obviously I think quality is more important than quantity. I’d rather shop from designers I am already familiar with ‘cause I already have a good idea of what to expect in terms of quality, and it will make my existing wardrobe better,” explained Rick Owens devotee Truong.
The most common accessory of the night by far was a wide variety of cameras – DSLRs, SLRs, point and shoots, Polaroids, and more.
“Fashion and photography just click, like Oreos and milk,” said photographer Tien Chang.
“How else are you gonna display fashion? Other than a show, you’ve gotta have pictures,” added (another) photographer, Wayne Oung.
“There’s a lot of variety of styles [in Toronto], a lot of influences because of the multiculturalism,” he said.
“I think Toronto style is distinct because [the city] has a forward-thinking sort of culture, so people are not afraid to wear stuff that isn’t plain and boring. Also, everyone draws inspo from IG or whatever, but also from their friends and other people they see on the street so that lets Toronto style grow,” added Truong.
Clayson Fletcher, owner of Nova Supply, sets his work apart from the printing-on-blanks method of many streetwear startups by handmaking all of his merchandise. Fletcher wore a statement sweater that he made out of an Etsy seller’s quilted print; he tracked her down after purchasing a 20 year old piece of hers of the same material. After struggling to find well-fitting clothing, he practiced sewing with his mom’s old machine starting around age 14. Four years later his brand took off, and he aims to reach consumers who also have the same problem with clothing sizing. Fletcher explains how Toronto’s atmosphere has impacted Nova Supply’s aesthetic:
“Everybody's so different [in Toronto]. It's like a more quiet New York. In New York everybody's tryna be loud and rambunctious, but Toronto is more quiet and subtle. So that's where my basis comes in; I do loud things in a subtle way.”
Musician Savanna Lee mused about the inspiring and humble nature of the group of creatives at the party.
“It’s less about the streetwear itself and more about the scene; it’s become a place where people can connect and bring their own style and flare to what’s happening. It’s all about originality, having those pieces that set you apart from others. What I enjoy about the fashion culture is the people; I love seeing people collaborate and make something out of different ideas. I love how an artist can express themselves through a style that reflects what’s being expressed in their music.”
As the evening progressed and more Goose was poured out, spirits remained high until the event came to an end. Edison and Scarth have ambitious plans for future events, aiming to get even more vendors on board to display the array of creative work young Toronto designers are releasing. In the meantime, Toronto’s streetwear aficionados will be taking advantage of the Canadian winter to play with layers until it’s time to break out the Pod shorts again.