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Ford Models closing its Toronto offices

Ford Models

FORD MODELS Competing Toronto agencies have been spending Tuesday snapping up the talent left hanging after news spread that Ford Models will close its Toronto office at the end of the month.

Model agency powerhouse Ford Models is pulling out of Canada, closing its Toronto offices at the end of January — a surprise move that has spurred a “feeding frenzy” to sign some of Toronto’s top talent.

“It was a decision from New York,” said Cathy LeDrew, director of the Toronto operation, declining to elaborate on why Ford Models, based in Manhattan, decided to shutter its only Canadian operation.

Despite the influx of available talent, competitor Elmer Olsen of Elmer Olsen Models Management said the news was a loss for the Canadian fashion industry.

“It’s sad because Ford is a very reputable name and we were very excited when they came to Canada and brought that powerhouse name to our industry. It was an asset to the Canadian fashion industry,” Olsen said.

“There will be a feeding frenzy,” he added.

Ann Sutherland, president at Sutherland Models, said she was surprised to hear the news but moved quickly to sign five new clients Tuesday as the word spread.

“These are good models and these are good agents. It’s a little bit surprising that it would happen,” Sutherland said. “Our phones are ringing off the hook.”

Ford has offices in Manhattan, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Brazil. Toronto was their smallest market, Olsen explained, but one they’ve held since 1995.

“Toronto is amazing market for a starting market, for a new girl to get started to do shows, to learn the ropes of being backstage, and learning to walk a runway and being in hair and makeup,” Olsen said. “It’s an amazing, amazing grooming ground, but it’s small, small potatoes compared to Paris and New York.”

Sutherland said there were no warning signs that Ford would be pulling out of Toronto.

“It is not my opinion that they were doing badly,” Sutherland said. “I think it was just a New York (City) decision, people that might be a little out of touch with our city.”

Calls to the New York office have not been returned. – living

None found.