Each year at the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards in Toronto, Swarovski gives out coveted awards to the best emerging talent in fashion and accessories. This year, it was also Swarovski’s turn to be honoured—Nadja Swarovski was given the Global Fashion Business Leader Award. Here, Swarovski, who serves as the company’s executive board member, discusses Canadian fashion’s moment in the spotlight.

Why is supporting high fashion so important and relevant to Swarovski? What does each unique partnership bring to the brand?

“Our fashion heritage stretches from my great great-grandfather Daniel Swarovski’s first collaborations with Jeanne Lanvin and Charles Frederick Worth in the 1890s, through 20th century giants such as Christian Dior – who worked with my grandfather in the 1950s to develop the famous Aurora Borealis crystal finish – to the modern day, when our work with Alexander McQueen reignited our fashion story. Today we take inspiration from this heritage to continue our tradition of collaborating with the best creative talent in the world. All these partnerships are unique, however each one of them inspires us, challenges us, and helps us to innovate.”

The brand does a lot of work with emerging designers, why is this important to you?

“Fashion is a highly competitive industry, and it can be extremely tough to begin a career as a young designer. This is why Swarovski has a long-term commitment to helping ensure emerging talent has the financial and product support to develop creatively, and build businesses and careers that can endure in a rapidly changing landscape. We also hope we can help these designers to engage with sustainability issues, and we make sure a focus on conscious design is at the heart of all our fashion education initiatives.

Tell me about the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, Accessories and The Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent, Fashion awards. What do you hope for the winners of these awards to go on to achieve?

“Markoo – with their bold silhouettes and innovative fabrics – and Sofia Zakia – with her playful, handcrafted jewelry pieces – were truly worthy winners. We hope the financial support and the year-long mentorship program will allow them to grow their brands and further develop their work.”

The Woodland ring stacks so sweetly with other pieces. Captured by @fiatluxsf ✨

A post shared by Sofia Zakia (@sofia.zakia) on

Have you noticed anything unique and different in the Canadian fashion scene as a whole?

“It is very positive that Canada’s own diversity is reflected in its talent, from Erdem to Jason Wu, who are both valued Swarovski collaborators. Canadian Fashion is extending its reach around the globe, whether the country’s designers are working at home or elsewhere in the world, and it is fantastic to see Meghan Markle representing Canadian brands such as Mackage and Greta Constantine on the international stage.”

Why do awards in fashion matter?

“Fashion is extremely fast moving, and sometimes it is important to take a moment to pause and reflect. Awards like CAFA offer an opportunity to come together as an industry to celebrate the most inspirational creative and business achievements from across the past year and to share a moment of unity as an industry.”