By: Alex Curley –
The Gentlemen’s Expo has come and gone. The ballsy event that took place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this past weekend proved that there was room for the urban man within gender themed consumer shows.
Although it was fairly small, hopefully it will have a big splash on the possibility of more alternative expositions and conventions in the future. The event drew an eclectic crowd ranging from modern dandies seeking a new space to explore fashion, to young businessmen seeking to improve their portfolios, to couples enjoying the food and booze and groups of friends eager to see what is being labeled as manly.
As it stands, the show should be renamed the dude show with its lack of gentlemen’s necessities like billiards, and etiquette were sorely lacking for the modern dandy. Even if these were observed in jest, they would legitimize the name of the expo and add a lighthearted edge to the event. Monocles are optional but encouraged.
Stella Artois dominated the Eat, Drink & Be Manly pavilion with their distinctive free glasses to sample their brew in. Also, whiskey, bourbon, scotch and a variety of different beers and spirits were available from several exhibitors, like Canadian Club, President’s Choice Black Label Collection, Big Rock Brewery, and Hogtown Brewery, while there was no gin for martinis in sight.
President’s Choice did an excellent job with their cooking school promotion, displaying their Black Label brand by teaching people how to cook a variety of dishes including shrimp with salsa. The food stage was a great success, stealing the attention of most of the guests with cooking demonstrations from food trucks and world-class chefs, including Chuck Hughes (Chuck’s Day Off) and Rob Rainford (Licence To Grill). Fish tacos and pulled pork occupied the most attention, hopefully with a bit of wry humor.
The Stylish Man pavilion, sponsored and run by Gotstyle was a splendid introduction to classy wear for the everyman but left the more dedicated clotheshorses wanting. The pavilion was also notable for featuring a Garrison Bespoke-designed pinstripe three-piece bulletproof suit, which contains lightweight bulletproof panels in the waistcoat and has been proven to be able to stop several rounds of ammo. But perhaps some local designers, like 18Waits, Handsome Clothing, Anti-Hero, and Boomer, should be roped into the next year’s to give the expo a more local perspective.
Those tech savvy gentlemen among us were disappointed by the tech pavilion, which would benefit from an expansion of more innovative electronics, like Google Glass. Newegg.ca as an exhibitor was great, but lacked the style to command the pavilion as a sponsor. Newegg was promoting their Canadian launch and were offering Black Friday deals a week early to expo-goers. Sadly, the pavilion missed a true highlight to win the attention of expo attendees who were more taken in by Cineplex’s Anchorman 2 photo booth. Perhaps the organizers should seek out more developers of gadgets and programs to beef up this branch of the show.
The Man on the Move pavilion offered up some interesting fare with Tesla Motors showing the new Model S with it’s massive 17-inch touchscreen dashboard and silent engine. The Guild of Automotive Restorers hightlighted some delightful classic cars including a splendid 1918 Roamer, the slick 1935 Bugatti Aerolithe, a dashing Lamborghini Countach and the original shagging wagon, George Barris’ Super Van. In addition to the classics, the expo also featured a variety of plug-in vehicles including the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and a variety of two-wheeled e-scooters by Amego. The show also saw fit to include some exhibitors more suited to the city with Car2Go rentals and the new Uber smartphone app for finding a taxi wherever you are.
Throughout the final day of the expo, buzz about the Guinness World Record attempt for the Largest Gathering of Men with a Moustache grew, but sadly, the expo was unable to draw in enough people with mustaches to conquer the record and will attempt it again next year.
Overall, the expo was a success. The food and drinks were great and were worth the price of admission. Due to it being the first year, the variety of exhibitors was a tad shallow but that should improve with age. With hard work and networking, next year’s Gentlemen’s Expo should prove to be truly great.
Talking about women and gays is kind of pointless after the fact when they were just overall ignored by the men running the event and the attendees. The overriding feeling was the focus was on straight men and anyone else is just a visitor there enjoying their manliness. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but they could have done more to include transgender and queer men.