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Kruger’s Cashmere Collection fashion show celebrates 20th anniversary

Annual show featuring bathroom-tissue couture has raised $5 million for breast cancer
kruger products cashmere collection 2023
2023 Cashmere Collection Lovestruck illustrations via Kruger Products

A renowned event born from a toilet-paper rebrand is celebrating 20 years. 

Founded in 2004, Kruger Products’ Cashmere Collection runway show challenges Canadian designers to create couture fashion using Cashmere bathroom tissue. The annual event serves to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer prevention and treatment through partnerships with the Canadian Cancer Society and Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation. To date, the event has raised more than $5 million for the cause. 

The 2023 Cashmere Collection takes place in Toronto on Oct. 3. The show will bring back 10 past designers and introduce 10 new and emerging ones. Their creations are inspired by the theme of this year’s show, “Lovestruck,” with the designers exploring what love means to them. 

In addition to the funds raised for breast cancer, the event has helped launch the careers of many Canadian designers and has won many awards, notes Susan Irving, chief marketing officer of Kruger Products (one of Canadian Grocer's 2022 Star Women). “[The show] really delivers on our mission of making everyday life more comfortable,” she says. “It’s a feel-good event for giving back to the communities in which we work.”

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This year’s show will also feature a special guest, fashion icon and TV personality Jeanne Beker, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. In addition, other breast cancer survivors will be seated in pink chairs in the front row of the runway.  

Cashmere Collection – known as the White Collection in the early days – got started when Kruger Products rebranded Cottonelle as Cashmere, ahead of the expiration of its 10-year rights to Cottonelle in 2007. “I wasn’t working at the company [at the time], but we all talk about this as being one of the best transitions for [a brand] in the market,” says Irving. “It was a slow transition… but the show started in 2004 to relaunch the brand as Cashmere.” 

READ: Kruger-owned Cashmere keeps it fresh for 2014 fashion show

She adds that in the first year, the dresses were made from actual cashmere, not bathroom tissue. “And then they transitioned to making it out of bathroom tissue.” However, it’s not exactly the material people find in the loo. The designs are made from the strong bolts of fabric that later are converted into bathroom tissue. “When it gets converted, that’s when it gets turned into the rolls with the embossing pattern and it gets softer,” says Irving.

Another big change was sparked by COVID-19. In 2020, Kruger couldn’t hold a show with an in-person audience, so organizers had to pivot. They partnered with Bell Media and aired the runway show (sans audience) on Facebook Live, hosted by Etalk’s Tyrone Edwards and The Social’s Melissa Grelo.

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Irving notes that the event was always a coveted PR event attended by a small group of people. “COVID was probably the best thing that ever happened to us in terms of growing the event because when we did consumer research, we realized a lot of people hadn’t heard of the Cashmere Collection,” she says. “It was incredible because all of a sudden, we were reaching more Canadians who tuned into the show, and it was at that point we realized this was an incredible program and it really reached and touched consumers... People wanted to see the dresses, see the shows and understand the history of the designers.”

Kruger continued its partnership with Bell and in 2021, a special aired on CTV and streaming channels such as Crave. “From the success we had in 2021… we are partnering with Bell and doing it again this year,” with the show airing Oct. 12, says Irving. 

The Cashmere Collection kicks off October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout October, Kruger has specially marked pink packaging on Cashmere and Purex UltraLuxe. The company will donate $1 per pack sold up to $100,000. 

READ: 2023 Impact Award winners: Community service

Throughout the month, consumers can visit and leave a dedication in a loved one’s name on their favourite design. For every dedication, Kruger will donate $1 for the cause, up to $50,000. Visitors to the website will also be able to browse all the fashions and learn about this year’s designers. 

On the enduring power of Cashmere Collection, Irving says, “I’m very proud to work for a Canadian company like Kruger Products. More importantly, I’m proud of the compassion that Canadians have. Typically, ideas die in the boardroom and people become very tired of them, but it’s pretty incredible that we’re in our 20th year and don’t see this program stopping.”

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