Another Toronto Fashion Week has come and gone. Some of Canada’s most notorious designers showcased their newest collections in venues such as the Royal Ontario Museum and Yorkville Village mall. Noticeably absent from the lineup, however, was the name of the fashion powerhouse Hayley Elsaesser.

Hayley and her brother Connor show at TFW in 2017.

Hayley Elsaesser has taken the Canadian fashion world by storm. Her bold statement prints have adorned the likes of Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. Elsaesser has never been held back by the strict and suffocating boundaries of the industry before, as we saw last year with her TFW runway show where all shapes and sizes were truly (and effortlessly) represented in the model lineup. 

Elsaesser broke the silence last week by publishing an “open letter to fashion week” on her blog. In it she describes, in harrowing detail, the trials and tribulations that have become so commonplace in our industry. She recalls racist comments made towards her models by photographers, and the surprising media blackout over a political statement against Doug Ford at last year’s show. But what she is most disappointed in is the lack of support for the Canadian fashion industry by Canadians themselves.

Models Rachel Romu and Nyongo James walk the 2017 show.

The core of her message is that we are taking advantage of the hard workers in the fashion industry by ignoring them yearly until fashion week rolls around. She expresses frustration at us, the consumers, for coveting high fashion brands that are “selling us an unattainable and unsustainable dream of opulence and luxury”, all the while turning our noses up at the designers working their fingers to the bone in our own backyard. 

Elsaesser holds a mirror up to the discrimination, egos, and everything else that has become the daily grind of the fashion world – things we reluctantly put up with just because they are the norm. If the letter makes you uncomfortable to read – good.

Photos taken directly from hayleyelsaesser.com and instagram.com/hayleyelsaesser

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