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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Hails from: “The tiny town of Elora, Ontario.”
Home town: Toronto
Jenny’s assessment: “After a bit of hibernation, it’s in bloom! Around six years ago it felt like the industry had gotten stagnant, somewhat neglected and in need of new life. Over the last few years, it has really come alive again with loads of fresh design talent, new innovative retailers, a new platform for recognition—the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFAs)—and several lines that have had serious international success after grinding it out for many years.”
Why Toronto was a great city to base her business: “It’s small enough to make a big name for yourself, yet big enough to support the growth of a company that wants to be based here and thinks big and is planning global domination (like Jenny Bird!).”
What the Canadian industry can do to support young designers: “I see a lot of interns come through the company with little to no knowledge of business fundamentals (basic profit calculation, business strategy, etc.) and I wonder if the industry can better support our fashion education programs so they have the access to industry professionals required to enhance the business curriculum. That way when they graduate, they will know what skills and actions are fundamental for business success and can recognize if they are lacking them and therefore know they need to find a business partner. Creatives often need a partner to succeed, but many are not aware they do. It would also be cool to provide a platform that matched business and marketing savvy students with designers to form start-up partnerships.”