In a 15th-floor suite of Woodsworth College Residence at the University of Toronto, Rock the Runway began to take form. Inspired by an on-campus fashion event they had just attended, roommates Fatima and Juliana began to discuss the idea of hosting their own charity fashion event. Drawing upon a strong passion for War Child introduced to them by yet another roommate, they pledged that they would find a way to raise money and awareness for the cause.
Less than a year later — in the fall of 2007 — their pledge rapidly transformed into action. Fatima was elected to student office promising a charity fashion show that involved students from the residence. Joined immediately by Heather McCann, who was the Social Director and planned events for Woodsworth College at large, they all set off to create one of the largest new events on campus in recent history. The Bata Shoe Museum caught their attention while searching for a venue, as did Randy Alexander, the Bata’s own event director. Randy’s immediate support and enthusiasm toward the show’s goal solidified an instant connection among all parties involved, and so the founding team became four.
RTR’s first two shows were an instant success, and enlisted the efforts of countless student volunteers and performers from the local community. From models to backstage assistants, their efforts cumulatively raised $10 000 in event proceeds and donations. In 2010, the event moved to the Royal Ontario Museum, which was received exceptionally well by the community and doubled both the audience size and the money raised for War Child Canada.
Moving forward, RTR continues to evolve and expand each year, featuring designs and musical talent of emerging Canadian artists with proceeds benefiting the international efforts of partnering charities. For 2012, Rock the Runway is partnering with SickKids and is proudly supporting their new Pan-Caribbean Pediatric Oncology Program.