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: “I grew up partially in Quezon City, Philippines and in Mississauga. My family migrated to Canada when I was 11.”
Home town: Toronto
Paolo’s assessment: “The fashion industry in Toronto is growing. More people from Canada are contributing to the fashion industry on an international stage. Although it’s not a country known for fashion globally, I’ve always drawn inspiration from here. I continue to reference the fashion movement from the early ‘90s house music scene.”
A model and a role model: “The Canadian industry has definitely supported me and my work from the start. The fact that I work and am recognized for my work is proof of the love and support I get from Canada. I’ve had a career in fashion for the last 15 years. I’ve been a merchandiser, menswear buyer, stylist… the point of it all was to create something original and new so that fashion in Canada can move forward and inspire other Canadians to do the same. It’s helped me be the person I am today and I thank all the people that have showed me love and taught me throughout the years.”
Why Canada can compete internationally: “We have the talent. We just have to nurture and encourage these talented people, provide them with a place to grow and showcase their work and help them benefit from it.”