The Toronto Maple Leafs, in partnership with The Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA), announced Thursday that Richard Campos and Michael Duhamel have won the TML Fashion Challenge through a public vote. Campos and Duhamel will dress Leafs fans for the 2017-2018 NHL season when their capsule collections are produced by sports apparel specialists Mitchell & Ness and sold exclusively at The Toronto Maple Leafs Store Powered by Real Sports Apparel. Both winners will also receive a monetary prize of $25,000 and see their designs recognized at the 2017 Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards.
"It's an honour to have been selected as a winner by the fans and judges," said Richard Campos, winner in the men's division. "Being able to design apparel for the team that I grew up supporting and loving, is something that I will remember forever. Hard work, determination and a great support system was the key, similar to the Maple Leafs' rich history."
"It is an absolute honour to win this contest. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been my team since I was a kid and to now have a collection of my designs means the world to me," said Michael Duhamel, winner in the women's division. "I can't wait to see this collection be brought to life."
Leafs fans' opportunity to select their favourite designs through online voting opened on November 15 and closed at 11:59 p.m. last night after more than 5,000 votes were counted. Both designers submitted their collections online earlier this season to enter the TML Fashion Challenge and made it to the judging panel, where they were selected as one of the top three finalists in their division. From there, Richard Campos' men's collection and Michael Duhamel's women's collection became favourites in a race that was so close it came down to the final minutes of voting for Leafs fans. The designers' rationales for creating their original collections were:
Richard Campos (Men's)
Richard's love of the Maple Leafs and the city of Toronto was his inspiration in his thought process. Fashion and apparel trends influenced his take on modern designs mixed with heritage pieces, like the new Leafs logo, an updated version of an iconic logo.
Richard wanted the new logo to be the focal point of each design with embellishments such as inks, fabrics and embroidery to enhance the look and feel of each piece. He felt that each piece should be something that every fan would be proud of wearing rather it be at the office or to the gym.
Michael Duhamel (Women's)
Michael believes that apparel doesn't have to be complicated. Keep it simple but don't compromise on quality. So that's what he did. He also wanted to honor the rich history of the Toronto Maple Leafs and he did so with a commemorative championship patch.
Throughout his design process Michael also recalled what Brendan Shanahan said about Conn Smythe: "Conn Smythe spoke of his team wearing the Maple Leaf badge with 'Honour, Pride and Courage' and those words are now stitched into the collar of each sweater so that our players, and fans, are reminded of that every time they put it on." Michael believes that is the same experience a fan should have, and not just with an official jersey.
The TML Fashion Challenge launched in July in celebration of the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Season, with the Leafs and CAFA inviting local designers to create capsule collections for both men and women inspired by the team's new sweater and logo. After receiving over 200 designer entries, the Toronto Maple Leafs' and CAFA's top 10 finalists faced a judging panel of industry experts: CAFA President, Vicky Milner, MUCH/MTV personality Liz Trinnear, Editor in Chief of The Kit, Laura deCarufel, and the Editor in Chief of Flare Magazine, Cameron Williamson. The judges narrowed the finalists down to five individuals who faced the public voting period.
Produced by Mitchell & Ness, Richard Campos and Michael Duhamel's collections will be available for purchase at the Toronto Maple Leafs Store Powered by Real Sports Apparel beginning Fall 2017. Fans can view the winning designs at mapleleafs.com/fashionchallenge.