Oh, Canadian fashion, how do we define you? What does it mean to be ‘Made in Canada’? And what is it really like to work in the fashion industry now that we’re having “a moment in the sun”? That high praise came from a New York Times article about this year’s Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards—the gala’s biggest iteration to date. And the NYT story was followed by an even more glowing Business of Fashion piece that referred to our homegrown talent as “visionaries.”
With this newfound spotlight in mind and a few days before we celebrate the country’s 150th, FLARE asked some of the most prominent Canadians working in fashion—both at home and internationally, or, more commonly, some combination of both—about what it’s like to make a living in the industry, what the rest of the fashion world thinks of Canada, and whether homegrown talent needs to move abroad to truly make it.
Click through the slideshow to find out why living in Canada is the only option for fashion bloggers Samantha and Cailli Beckerman (“When people hear we are Canadian, we get hugs!”) and why a “superstar salary” made celeb hairstylist Harry Josh leave Vancouver for New York.
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Hairstylist; Creator, Harry Josh Pro Tools
Hails from: Vancouver
Home base: New York
Harry’s assessment: “It’s a population problem. We just don’t have enough people to support the industry on a global scale. We’ll always be the cousin who has the artistic skill and talent. You need another 100 million people to make the Canadian fashion industry take off.”
Go where the supermodels go: “What it really boils down to is salary. The work in Canada is great—when I look at any Canadian fashion magazines, the work is fantastic. I’ve always thought, ‘Why is it not more world-renowned?’ However, I will talk to people who work in Canada and they all say the financial backup for the art that we do isn’t there. It makes it harder to pass up coming to New York, because not only are you working with the international superstars, but you’re also getting the international superstar salary to go with it. The fashion consumer only cares about big names. I could do the same hair on a beautiful girl back home in Canada; then do the look on Gisele and it’s global news. By us having the most famous people on the planet looking good, we get the credit—people don’t care to see our work unless it’s on the most famous people, who live in the US.”