Written by: Michael Jodha
Making his fashion debut at Toronto Fashion Week, 26-year-old designer Matthew Gallagher says social media helped him escape the boundaries of operating out of one room.
“You can be worldwide even if you’re in one city, somewhere random,” says Gallagher in an interview during Toronto Fashion Week. “You don’t have to travel anymore to be exposed.”
Spending the last four years living in Italy, the designer has demonstrated the benefits of using social media tools to get ahead.
Gallagher started his fashion brand in his bedroom while studying at a fashion house in Milan. Designing a few women’s pieces here and there, he began posting some of his original creations online. Soon afterwards, Gallagher started to get requests for his garments.
“I lived abroad and without social media, and seeing things on Facebook and whatever else, you wouldn’t have these (fashion) opportunities,” he says. “It was easy to kind of reach out.”
Now that Gallagher’s back in his home country, he’s happy to make his debut and contribute to Toronto’s blossoming fashion scene.
“Coming in, I was pleasantly surprised because I feel that things have grown a lot and it’s really nice to see there’s a strong fashion vibe in Toronto,” he says about the Toronto Fashion Week experience.
His debut women’s wear collection, titled “Maison Matthew Gallagher” featured some long flowing gowns, short dresses and pops of bright red. It was a collection Gallagher literally constructed on his own; he finances and manufactures his designs by himself.
“At like 4 o’clock in the morning, you’re pulling your hair, sitting in your bedroom with seams you have to undo or whatever else, but I think you have to start somewhere,” says Gallagher about the frustrations of doing much of the physical labour himself.
“It’s nice to be able to see how it goes and you really have an understanding of the clothes when you’re making them yourself from scratch.”
As for what’s next for Gallagher, he’s just taking it one step at a time and wants to see what opportunities emerge from his first showing at Toronto Fashion Week.
“Hopefully I can get some support in some way,” says Gallagher, “that I can build my brand a bit bigger and a bit more serious and not have to sell in my bedroom.”