What Can Slow Food Learn From Fashion?

I was invited to attend Fashion Week Toronto as a guest of Bustle Clothing last night (though the ticket was comp’d it was given as a gift – not in exchange for a post or any other promise).  I had met Shawn Hewson (who is one half of the team) while serving our pickled garlic at the Slow Food picnic.  We ran into each other recently and he asked if I’d like to see what it is that he does.

What Can Slow Food Learn From Fashion?

This wasn’t the first fashion show I’ve been to but it’s close (maybe the fourth or fifth).  I’m no expert in fashion and attending an event like this was definitely outside of my comfort zone; which was part of the appeal.  I didn’t know what to expect and find that to be an intriguing cocktail of excitement and fear.

I can’t begin to comment on the clothing that was presented other than I found it accessible – there were pieces I couldn’t possibly imagine wearing but there were many that I thought I could (Bustle is a men’s line).

But there were a few things I saw that I found so inspiring and, as my mind often does, made me think of how things like this could relate to food:

  • The entire line was inspired by the 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede.  The show opened with a video which set the stage for the clothes about to be presented which set a bigger stage than just serving it up on a plate.  It was fun, whimsical and very much about the country the designer was from.
  • People were excited and open about their excitement.  There were several moments that I saw people in the audience verbally cheer their friends (who were models) on and vice versa.  There was no pretense that they were openly cheering for a friend and it was super sweet.
  • The crowd was filled with many, many welcoming people.  I was surprised at just how many people introduced themselves to me as I was clearly there by myself.  People were welcoming, open and appeared genuinely interested.
  • There was a lot of excitement about the clothes, the show, the fashion but it was still humble and accessible.
  • A few hours after the show, most of the participants (i.e. designers, models, industry people and fans) all got together for a party.  Imagine a restaurant where everyone went for a beer after the dining session was done!

None of these lessons are earth-shaking but there’s a lot of potential to use the feeling of such an event to make our own efforts in championing local and sustainable food more welcoming.  I’m not suggesting that there aren’t food events that embody the things above but I can remember a time not so long ago that it was very intimidating to imagine getting involved in local food and know if we were this open to attracting curious outsiders to our tables that we might find a broader audience.

What attracts you to local food and the people within it?

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