Atlanta’s AmericasMart showcased apparel from three Montreal-based fashion designers and 20 Quebec manufacturers during an April 15 fashion show entitled “Montreal Collections.”

In its ninth year, “Montreal Collections” featured apparel from manufacturers who are permanent exhibitors at the AmericasMart as well as three designers who are interested in garnering more recognition in the Southeast, according to Louise Fortin, director of the trade division of Quebec’s government office in Atlanta, who organizes the show here.

The show was a part of a three-day exhibition of women and children’s apparel that is held every year at the AmericasMart. The exhibition attracts between 8,000 and 10,000 buyers from throughout the Southeast, according to Ms. Fortin, who had about 250 buyers attend the “Montreal Collections” show.

Also attending this year’s exhibition was Montreal Fashion Industry Commissioner Diane Duhamel, who was eager to create stronger ties between the fashion industries in Atlanta and Montreal after her first visit here.

Ms. Duhamel, who worked for the city’s economic development agency, Montreal International, before becoming fashion commissioner two years ago, said that she would like to see educational partnerships develop between the Savannah College of Art and Design and fashion-oriented universities in Montreal such as the Université de Quebec à Montreal.
The Montreal university works in partnership with technical school LaSalle College to offer business-oriented degrees for the fashion industry. SCAD’s programs focus heavily on garment design and construction and have garnered a reputation amongst fashion academics in Montreal, said Ms. Duhamel.

“I spoke with professors at UQAM before coming here and told them that I was going to visit SCAD. They wanted to know all about it,” she said relaying their enthusiasm for SCAD.

But Montreal, which was named a “City of Design” last year by the United Nations for its culturally diverse art and design industries and events, has a lot to offer Georgia students, tourists and fashion enthusiasts, said Ms. Duhamel.

Employing more than 25,000, Montreal’s fashion industry is the second greatest producer of garments in North America, behind Los Angeles and before New York, Ms. Duhamel told GlobalAtlanta in an interview during her visit.

More than 100 fashion designers live in downtown Montreal and twice per year their work is showcased during a “fashion week” that attracts buyers and boutique owners from around the world.

Ms. Fortin’s trade division in Atlanta, in fact, scouts for high-end buyers from the Southeast to attend the show, which will be held again in October, she said.

Montreal fashion is influenced by both European and North American styles, which fosters creativity among designers, Ms. Duhamel said.

And the city’s fashion industry includes manufacturing, as well as design, she said, noting that the apparel manufacturing sector had started to pick up after an initial rush to China for lower labor costs in recent years.

“Everyone got excited about the lower cost of labor but didn’t factor in the unit cost of sourcing from China,” she said explaining that traveling to see manufacturers and finding translators in China were expenses North American buyers often made when sourcing products from China.

And often buyers want to source smaller quantities of apparel than what must be received in bulk freight from China, she said, adding that Montreal manufacturers were getting more business because they could supply smaller quantities of products.

The speed of the fashion industry is also not conducive to sourcing products from China, she added. If imported apparel gets slowed down at ports of entry, then apparel buyers suffer, she said.

“Fashion is fast and extremely competitive,” Ms. Duhamel said.

About 60 Montreal apparel manufacturers or designers have permanent showrooms at the AmericasMart.

Visiting designers represented at this year’s “Montreal Collections” show were Andy Thé-Anh, Yves Jean Lacasse and Marie Saint-Pierre.
Story Contacts, Links and Related Stories
Quebec’s Atlanta Office – Louise Fortin, director, (404) 584-2995, ext. 59912