The Next Generation of Fashion Innovation

About Us

Joe Fresh and Ryerson University have partnered to create The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation at the Fashion Zone at Ryerson University.

The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation will incubate, develop and support Canada's fashion inspired businesses. Participating companies and individuals will receive exclusive benefits to hone their business models and skills. The Centre is seeking Canadian startups in all fashion-related fields, including design, production, technology and professional services.

The Centre is an initiative of The Joe Fresh Fund, a philanthropic vehicle that provides grants and assistance to a range of industry and non-profit causes supported by Joe Fresh.

Our Goal

To support the next generation of fashion entrepreneurs and leaders.

Joe Fresh has maintained a far-reaching commitment to the future of the Canadian fashion industry, including education and support of new business and design talent. The goal of The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation is to foster a 360-degree approach to mentorship that will best position emerging entrepreneurs for real world success.

How It Works

A panel of leading fashion and business leaders will select top candidates to come to The Joe Fresh Centre in downtown Toronto to develop go-to-market strategies and accelerate their startups. Once selected, the new wave of businesses, or Joe Fresh Innovators, will join the 18-month program, where they will receive the following exclusive benefits:

One dedicated working desk in the Centre (valued at over $380/month)

One flex desk in the Centre or Fashion Zone at Ryerson University (valued at over $250/month)

Eligible marketing and promotion expenses up to $5,000. Access TO Fashion Zone at Ryerson University's equipment and facilities

A chance to be showcased on or at Joe Fresh events

Mentorship and networking opportunities with Joe Fresh and Ryerson leadership teams as well as Canadian business and fashion leaders

Academic recognition from Ryerson University following completion of the program

How to Apply

The Centre is open to all Canadian individuals and businesses. To apply you must meet the below criteria:

  • *A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • At least the age of majority in the applicant’s province of residence
  • Hold a Canadian business registration number (or in the application process)
  • Have a business plan and/or prototype for their business
  • Submit a personal and professional reference
  • Complete the online application and submit a 2-minute video

*Except for residents of Quebec.

Click here for contest rules

Fourth Cohort

Application window: January, 2017 – February, 2017
Notification of acceptance: April, 2017
Joe Fresh Centre program: May, 2017 – October, 2018

Fifth Cohort

Application window: June, 2017 – July, 2017
Notification of acceptance: September, 2017
Joe Fresh Centre program: October, 2017 – March, 2019

The Judges

Ian Freedman

Ian Freedman is President of Joe Fresh, one of Canada’s leading fashion retailers. In this role, he oversees all Joe Fresh retail, merchandising, production and marketing functions. Before assuming the role of President, Ian served as COO of Joe Fresh and prior to this, as Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development at George Weston Limited. Ian has held a variety of senior management roles, which included running Molson Coors Canada’s Quebec business and launching Molson’s stand-alone national craft beer division.

Ian Freedman

President, Joe Fresh

Alixe Boyer

Alixe Boyer is the Senior Vice President of Brand Development at Joe Fresh, with global oversight of marketing, advertising and communications. In this role, Alixe crafts brand identity and consumer messaging, leading teams in Toronto and New York that create and execute the brand’s integrated marketing campaigns. Alixe serves on the advisory board of Artists for Peace and Justice, which supports arts, education and healthcare programs in Haiti.

Alixe Boyer

Senior Vice President of Brand Development, Joe Fresh

Peter Lee

As the Senior Vice President of Global Product, Peter Lee oversees design and merchandising for all mens, womens, and childrens apparel for Joe Fresh. In this this role, Peter leads dual teams in New York and Toronto to concept and create seasonal collections for the brand. Bringing 15 years of industry experience, Peter has held positions in both luxury and commercial brands in New York, Italy, Paris, Antwerp and Osaka, prior to joining Joe Fresh.

Peter Lee

Senior Vice President of Global Product, Joe Fresh

Robert Ott

Robert Ott is an Associate Professor in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University and Academic and Executive Director of the Fashion Zone and The Joe Fresh Centre. He holds a master’s degree in the Management of Technology and Innovation from Ryerson University. Robert is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Leicester, School of Management investigating the resurgence of craftsmanship in contemporary fashion systems with a focus on bespoke tailoring and cordwaining. He is recognized for his extensive senior management experience with The Jones Group where he held a series of progressively responsible executive roles including directing product research and development, supporting marketing activities, developing and overseeing an international business model, and re-evaluating the strategic positioning of corporate brands in Canada.

Robert Ott

Associate Professor, School of Fashion at Ryerson University

Lucia Dell’Agnese

Since 1988, Lucia has been a professor in the School of Fashion, Ryerson University, teaching a wide range of courses pertaining to apparel design, collection development and apparel production management. Design projects have included the academic ceremonial gowns required for the Ryerson University offices of Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and Honourary Doctorate recipients. Research areas have included anthropometrics and sizing systems used in women’s apparel with recent research focusing on the design and development of work apparel worn by urban search and rescue dogs.

Lucia Dell'Agnese

Professor, School of Fashion

Matthew Saunders

As President of Ryerson Futures, Matt manages a seed stage investment fund, an acceleration program for early stage technology companies and an innovation for hire consulting practice for corporate clients in Toronto, Canada and Mumbai, India. He also provides mentorship for 80+ companies in the Ryerson DMZ. Matt has over 17 years of experience as an entrepreneur and executive working with companies in the technology and service based sectors. Matt was a founder and co-CEO of NRG Group which he ran for five years and raised over $30 million in financing. Matt has an undergraduate degree in marketing and management and an MBA from Northeastern University.

Matthew Saunders

President, Ryerson Futures

Valerie Fox

Valerie Fox cofounded the DMZ at Ryerson University which has grown to become Canada’s #1 university business incubator and #5 in the world (UBI 2014). She is now venturing out with a new company called the Pivotal Point, to help build successful incubation models with corporations, academic institutions and regions that bring communities of diverse skills together to collaborate, design and deliver impactful innovation.

Valerie Fox

The Selection Committee judges have been chosen on the basis of their knowledge and expertise in fashion, business and entrepreneurship. Together, they bring extensive experience working with Canada’s most prominent brands and institutions to The Joe Fresh Centre for Fashion Innovation.

Joe Fresh Innovators


Sidebuy is a platform that enables Fashion and Lifestyle Brands to seamlessly discover influencers, automate promotional campaigns and measure campaign success. Founded by Mona Akhavi, her vision is to accelerate and optimize marketing social marketing initiatives for brands through a data-driven influencer platform. Akhavi has also built a network of 10,000 influencers across 150 cities throughout North America.

Mona Akhavi


Adrenalease Inc.

Adrenalease Inc. specializes in scientifically engineered Posture Performance Apparel. Their primary Posture Performance Shirt has integrated adjustable straps that work like Kinesio-Tape. Through proprioceptive feedback and muscle memory, the straps provide a gentle reminder to keep your posture in an upright position. Founded in May 2015 by Noureddin Chahrour and Elias Seif, the Adrenalease Inc. duo has since appeared on Dragon's Den season 10 episode 6, which aired on November 18, 2015. Adrenalease Inc. has recently expanded their line with the introduction of a Posture tank-top alternative and is slated to develop a Posture Sports Bra.

Noureddin Chahrour and Elias Seif

Adrenalease Inc.

Nudy Patooty

Founded by Michelle Shemilt, Nudy Patooty is a transformative undergarment that wicks away sweat before it becomes an embarrassing stain or damages your clothes. Each Nudy Patooty undergarment is proudly made in Canada with high-tech, moisture-absorbing fabrics that protect your wardrobe and keep you dry and comfortable all day.

Michelle Shemilt

Nudy Patooty


Founded by James Yurichuk and Anthony DeBartolo, Wully is a premium lifestyle brand that designs outerwear made to perform in the coldest forecast while respecting nature. Each jacket is built with quality, warmth and functional style. Wullyis proud to use wildlife as inspiration rather than material. From the very beginning, the core of its philosophy stands on the principle of enjoying any environment while respecting nature.

James Yurichuk and Anthony DeBartolo

Wully Outerwear

Daniel Christian Tang

Mario Christian, Heng Tang and Luca Daniel Lavorato founded Daniel Christian Tang with a vision to re-invent jewelry and push the boundaries of design. The jewelry created in the collections are true, one of a kind pieces of wearable art. Each piece is custom made from a single 3D printed file and cast in the finest materials. The fusion of innovative design and modern technology has created a jewelry collection that harmoniously blends modern style with timeless elegance inspired by the intersection of arts, fashion, and architecture.

Mario Christian, Heng Tang and Luca Daniel Lavorato

Daniel Christian Tang

Ms. Dress Up

Ms. Dress Up Inc. founded, by Natalie Catania, designs and manufactures products that offer women innovative style and fashion solutions, empowering them with independence and educating them on how to make feeling beautiful easy.

Natalie Catania

Ms. Dress Up

Blanc de Noir

Blanc de Noir, founded by Gonzalo de Cárdenas and Miah Mills, is a gender-neutral lifestyle brand focused on creating highly functional, timeless pieces. The aesthetic is minimalist, practical and elegant. Each collection is inspired by a global city and makes use of historical regional materials and crafting techniques.

Gonzalo de Cardenas and Miah Mills

Blanc De Noir


Formen, founded by Andrew Grella, is a line of professional male skincare and cosmetics. With a problem-solution based approach to the male skin, Formen provides men tools to put their best face forward in 30 seconds.

Andrew Grella



Klothed, founded by Barry Fogarty, Paul Nykamp and Bhupinder Randhawa, is a curated, personalized men’s shopping and style-planning app. It enables users to quickly and easily create a personalized model that includes a selfie of their face, and a body shape and skin tone that resembles their own. They can then virtually try on clothes, share their looks with their social networks, purchase items, and plan what they're going to wear.

Barry Fogarty, Paul Nykamp, and Bhupinder Randhawa



StyleID, founded by Sarah Juma and Rachel Nicole, is a mobile application that helps consumers identify products worn, used & featured on screen. It turns television programs into interactive marketing campaigns.

Sarah Juma and Rachel Nicole


Wear Your Label

Wear Your Label, cofounded by Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed, is a clothing line designed to spark positive conversations about mental-health issues. The gender-neutral collection is made in North America and designed by people affected by mental illness.

Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed

Wear Your Label


Who can apply to The Joe Fresh Centre? Does age matter? What is a fashion-inspired business? What equipment will I receive? Are there any membership fees associated with being in the Joe Fresh Centre? Does The Joe Fresh Centre take any equity? Do I need to write a business plan? What are your expectations of me as a member after being accepted to The Joe Fresh Program? If not accepted, can I reapply next time? Where will I live? Does The Joe Fresh Centre provide housing? I am an international student. Can I still apply? Who are the judges?

Contact Us

For more information about The Joe Fresh Centre, please email