Northern Spirit Charmed Canada


It’s time to share also with my English-speaking audience the project Northern Spirit or the tale of bringing Estonian design to Canada, as it was also something that I personally was working on extensively during my evenings and weekends for almost half a year, though of course, we had a much greater team taking care of everything than just me. And this was one of the most valuable reminders or lessons learned again – when you have a great team that is committed to achieve its mission, it allows you to get through everything, be it a time pressure or a hard moment, and you will achieve something that you can really be proud of. Whenever one member of your team has a moment of weakness, the others are there to help to go for a yet another extra mile.

So what was the Northern Spirit in Canada project all about? Well, we had a delegation of established Estonian fashion, design and beauty brands that we took jointly to Canada, where we had a fashion showcase in one of the most respectable museums of Canada, the Royal Ontario Museum, we opened an Estonian fashion and design showroom for local business contacts, media and bloggers, organized two charity fashion shows at Toronto Tartu College for fundraising and of course, produced a set of edgy Northern Spirit presentation materials, from a series of fashion films to a compelling lookbook, introducing both Estonian design and our country in all its Northern beauty.

It was a joint effort between Estonian-Canadians and Estonians to develop cultural ties between Estonia and Canada and to get the first introduction to the Canadian market for our design brands. The event was also a great opportunity to celebrate both Estonia’s 100th and Canada’s 150th birthdays. We showcased in Canada Tanel Veenre Jewellery, Oksana Tandit, Monton, Baltman, Ivo Nikkolo, D’Difference, Roberta Einer and Sangar brands, telling their unique stories.

Canada was the first place where we presented our Estonian Fashion Brands Association’s (EFBA) concept Northern Spirit, representing the Nordic aura of Estonian design in a modern key. Northern Spirit is a newly created export format for the introduction of Estonian design and fashion in international markets that brings together various elements, from the spectacular fashion showcase-performance to showroom concept and presentation materials. It adapts itself to different occasions, markets and set of brands involved, being a strong umbrella concept for showcasing the best of our fashion design in a cohesive and stylish manner internationally. Northern Spirit – as we are Nordic, but with our own unique twist and spirit.

So how did we do? We charmed the Canadian public and got media interested.

I would say that though one can’t take the Canadian market (or any other market for that matter) with one time, we managed to leave a lasting and professional impression. The Northern Spirit fashion showcase @ Royal Ontario Museum went for the audience of over 4000 people and all participating brands got a real cheering from them. It wouldn’t of course been possible without our beautiful and in many ways amazing models from Estonia – Kadri, Siim, Karl, Xenia and Pia-Lotta –, who people simply wouldn’t let go of stage. No wonder that Estonia has the highest number of models per capita in the world! And not only that, one of the photos from our Northern Spirit show @ ROM managed to get a social media attention from no other than Sarah Gore Reeves, the Fashion Director of Harper’s Bazaar New York herself.

As Estonian fashion and design is still a kind of unknown cousin of the Scandinavian design in the world, we are particularly happy for the positive feedback and interest from Canadian media and influencers that we had. Our showroom was attended among others by Zink Magazine, SHARP Magazine, S/Style Magazine, The Kit and several TV and celebrity stylists and online influencers that have published since then several stories, from blog posts to Insta Stories to Instagramming. And we had a special sequence about Estonian fashion and design @ Toronto Breakfast TV, one of the most popular local morning shows that went for the audience of close to 1 million people.

Last, but not least, we had a very warm welcome @ Monocle editorial office and store, where I gave the interview about Estonian fashion and design and we had our first introduction done for their amazing magazine and store, designed for cosmopolitan globe trotters in search for new design discoveries. All in all, we have up till now over 40 pieces of news appearing about Northern Spirit in Estonia and Canada and the attention is ongoing. Something like that would have been impossible to achieve for one brand alone, but as a country-sequence, by going jointly, we created the interest we were longing for.

Our participating design brands had meetings with agents and buyers, so we are hoping for a fruitful cooperation for those interested in the Canadian market, meanwhile our Northern Spirit lookbook and fashion film series, as well as the format itself with showroom and fashion showcase-performance, will continue its journey in the world.

It was all made possible by the amazing team we had all the way through – EFBA core team ladies who worked on it with me (thank you, Maire Milder and Oksana Tandit), participating brands and the members of our delegation (you rock!!), our concept and production team, welcoming and helpful Canadian-Estonians and their organizations (ESC/VEMU, EERO), our talented models and the big team of supporters, sponsors and helpers who were with us in every step of the way. Thank you from my heart and let’s make Estonian fashion design great in the world! Until next time, as there will be news coming up very soon.

I’m leaving you with some photos of our Northern Spirit fashion showcase-performance @ ROM taken by Richard Lautens, an amazing Toronto Star photographer, who we had an honor working with.


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