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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Content Creator, Aniab.net
Hails from: “Half Szczecin, Poland; half Calgary, Alberta.”
Home base: “I’m currently living the bicoastal life, working and living in Toronto and Calgary.”
Ania’s assessment: “I’m impressed by how many amazing brands come out of here, but the general public has no idea who is Canadian and who isn’t.”
Why she’s based in Canada: “I continue loving to live here because compared to the rest of the world, it really is one of the best places to nurture your talents and be creative and free. What is still lacking is the ability for the country to keep talent here; growth caps at a certain point. The communities in both Calgary and Toronto are extremely supportive of what I do; it’s a great representation of how, as an immigrant, the country is very welcoming. Even though I have been in the industry for over 16 years—first as a model, now as a blogger, ahem, content creator—there are now more opportunities than ever for anyone looking to enter the industry.”
Regional bias: “There are more people in the east so they automatically get more attention and more opportunities. This is in large part why I haven’t made the full move to the east coast. We need more people doing cool things out west.”
How big business can take the lead: “It would be good to see more risks taken by Canada’s established brands. Companies like Ssense and Aldo are amazing ambassadors for Canada, and Simons [a Quebec department store that has recently expanded across the country] is using its positioning to help small Canadian designers—it’s a really beautiful example of that collaborative attitude I love so much about the industry here.”
Canadians should be thinking globally: “People love Canadians. Generally, when we travel, the fact that we are from Canada is always a plus. Businesswise, however, the world still needs to be convinced. We have so much to offer but there has to be a reason why so many talented people seek opportunities elsewhere. A big part of the problem is public awareness. Business in Canada is much more conservative. Looking at your immediate markets might be good for the short term, but I think Canada needs to look out to the world, too.”