The Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) is an award-winning and highly-acclaimed non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and nurturing Canadian fashion designers and entrepreneurs. TFI is the world’s first official fashion incubator, established in 1987 by the City of Toronto. Since its launch, the TFI model has been adopted by over thirty global cities including London, Paris, New York, Milan, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Chicago.
The TFI story began in 1986 when the fashion industry was the second largest industrial employer in the City of Toronto. The Fashion Industry Liaison Committee (FILC), a volunteer industry organization supported by the City of Toronto’s Economic Development Division, proposed that a centre aimed at helping fledgling businessess could stimulate business growth and ensure vitality in the industry, which would translate into job growth, job retention and business development. A year (and a lot of hard work) later, TFI was born and ready to inject excitement and energy into an already vibrant fashion community.
Start-up funding, in the form of a two-year grant, was provided by the Federal Innovations Program of Employment and Immigration Canada. In December 1989, the centre was granted official “incubator” status through an Order-in-Council of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. In February 1990, an operating grant and some administrative support was provided by TEDCO (The City of Toronto Economic Development Corporation) through its Business Incubation program. From 1990 to 2010, TEDCO provided TFI with a renewable three-year operating grant. Since the demise of TEDCO in 2010, TFI has been receiving a municipal grant from the City of Toronto’s Incubation program. Corporate and event sponsorships, donations, seminar & event fees, consulting, membership fees, rental fees for studios and facilities, and sales of our proprietary how-to guidebooks and resource lists, round out our revenue stream.
For almost three decades, TFI’s success in fostering innovative talent while encouraging small business growth has created an entrepreneurial culture that is envied around the globe. Some of our most celebrated members and alumni include Sunny Fong of Project Runway Canadafame, Joeffer Caoc, David Dixon, Pina Ferlisi at McQ, Todd Lynn, Arthur Mendonça, Line Knitwear and Smythe.