b|2|b with Roger Gingerich

Roger Gingerich is a man of many fashion trades. So when I gave him a ring on a  Friday afternoon, I was thrilled to finish my work week just chatting away with an individual whose worked I’ve admired from afar.

So who is Roger Gingerich? Well, to begin with, he is a force of creative nature, that has influenced many people aspiring a career in the fashion industry. A natural collaborator at heart, Gingerich is a leading fashion broker and manages his own namesake company, The Gingerich Group. A typical day may consist of working with celebrity clients while managing their fashion related opportunities, placing “ghost designers” with high profile brands, networking incredible people to relatable positions, or advising on fashion councils and boards. No pressure.

But for Roger, with over 30 years of experience, every day is seen as an opportunity to bring something or someone into the spotlight.

roger gingerichMC: For those who would like to dive deeper into your world, could you share, in more detail, what it means to be a fashion broker.

RG: The role of a Fashion Broker is exactly that, brokering fashion deals. It is linking amazing people with amazing people, opportunities with brands, etc. I manage the fashion business for a number of celebrities, sit on a number of advisory boards, work with the Toronto Men’s Fashion Week brand on big picture opportunities, European brands entering the North American landscape, and visa a versa. Assist with luxury brands moving discontinued merchandise, and a lot of consulting on brand collaborations.

MC: How did you become inspired to venture into this career path?

RG: It was for a number of reasons .First off, two selfish reasons. Fun and money.The two go together quite well. I have to love what I do and the clients I work with. It has to be fun. Second, is simple, money. We all have our bills to pay at the end of every month. That aside, the creative nature of the entire fashion community never ceases to amaze me. Not just the obvious from designers, retailers and media, it’s the behind the scenes careers that I love and the creativity from secondary support areas are unbelievable. Fabric mills, factories, agents, trend forecasters, photographers, fashion schools, creative directions, PR agencies, it really compliments the fashion market as a whole perfectly.

MC: When you hear “network whisperer”, what does that translate for you.

RG: I have to credit Brittany and Maleah Sparks (The Sparks Twins), who were interns at my agency many years ago, they came up with the title. I love it, for me it translates into seeing the best in people and matching them with other like minded cool people that could become simple friends or potential clients to each other. Being at an event and just matching like minded people with ease and sincerity is being a network whisperer, we all have it in us.

MC: What do you think the future holds for the Toronto fashion industry?

RG: That is a story book in of itself. Toronto has an unbelievable history in fashion. Top models, brands, retailers, The Bata Shoe Museum, etc.. Toronto’s place in the global fashion market is rich with a wide variety of cultures. Toronto is now finally being seen as a cosmopolitan city next to London, Hong Kong and New York. The future for our industry has to thank our trailblazers in history.

roger gingerich tomfw

What does the future hold? Success will come to those that think and act both local and global. Canada is recognized world wide as a country of hundreds of ethnic backgrounds all getting along, and with that, the combined creativity of this melting pot. Canadians think differently because of this; we see inspiration in our Greek and Italian neighbourhoods, in our south Asian communities, and the brilliant use of colour in our Caribbean festivals combining music and fashion. Couple this with the fact we have 4 true seasons. Spring and autumn, minus thirty in the winters and plus thirty in the summers. We have 4 true fashion cycles and every 3 months our street style is refreshed. With this inspiration, and our Canadian based designers and businesses selling globally, there is not a market in the world that is missed with Canadian based fashion influence. I truly believe Toronto is on fire right now and the best to come is right around the corner.

MC: Your top recommendation for someone who wants to follow a career in fashion.

RG: Network, volunteer and find some mentors that are willing to share a discussion over coffee with you. Canadian fashion executives are incredible with sharing their time and connections for the next generation entering this industry. Join a fashion trade association like FGI (Fashion Group International) who put on monthly events covering all aspects of the business of fashion. And get an education that covers all aspects of the business of fashion. Ryerson, Toronto Film School, Humber, George Brown, Seneca just to name a few.

A Tale of Two Carmens

The Spanish city of Seville, love, jealousy, and a very provocative gypsy. The story of Carmen may be one of the most popular operas of all time . With its popularity also comes the expectation to make your mark musically, especially as the lead character herself. Bizet’s Carmen stylistically introduced an intense realism to opera performance like never before during its time.

So how do you capture this realism and meet up to these expectations? Or better yet, what musical process would a leading mezzo soprano go through in order to fill the shoes of all mezzos who have played this character before them?

Last month, Anita Rachvelishvili and Clémentine Margaine took centre stage alternating the roles of Carmen for The Canadian Opera Company. I had the opportunity to hear from these two exquisite ladies what it truly means to understand a role like this.

Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

Anita Rachvelishvili as Carmen in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

Anita Rachvelishvili:

I never listen to the recordings when I am studying a new opera. Of course I’ve heard some recordings of the Habanera and the Seguidilla before my debut in this role, but I never heard the whole opera and never watched before 2009.

I was preparing this opera with the amazing coach Madame Janine Reiss in 2009, before my debut at Teatro Alla Scala, and her advice was to never listen other singers and their recordings.

And this is what I always do. I never listen to the recordings before my debut and that’s maybe why it’s always different and maybe special! It is my own, only following composer’s indications and being precise and correct!

Clémentine Margaine:

Carmen is indeed one of the most famous characters of all time and people have already in mind so many great Carmens from the past. I always make a point to try to reach my own personal Carmen without trying to fit in any idea of what Carmen should be. I’m trying to do it as much as in a musical way as a theatrical one.

You can tell in Bizet’s score that there are a lot of places where he leaves complete freedom to Carmen and those are exactly where I try to find my own Carmen. I try to use many different colors in my voice to portray the character of Carmen as much as all the silences.

I think it’s very important as well to remember that Carmen is singing songs. That’s how she expresses herself like in the Habanera, the Seguedille or the Chanson Bohémienne.

Everything should be always very flexible with Carmen as she’s an impulsive and instinctive woman, and so should my singing be. So I allow myself every night to change a slightly bit some tempi, to change dynamics so I’m never in a kind of a routine and I keep the attention of my colleagues on stage by surprising them as well.

Clémentine Margaine as Carmen and David Pomeroy as Don José in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

Clémentine Margaine as Carmen and David Pomeroy as Don José in Carmen (COC, 2016), photo: Michael Cooper

For 60 years the Canadian Opera Company has relied on the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations. Your support will allow them to continue developing talented Canadian artists and making the art of opera more accessible to all.

[Feature image illustration photo credit: Sarah Tanat-Jones]