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: Toronto
Home base: Toronto
Vicky’s assessment: “I think the industry today is filled with many talented people and the world is paying attention. There are more and more designers who are achieving success abroad and I feel like now more than ever Canada is having a fashion moment.”
Why the work she is doing with CAFA is so important to the Canadian fashion industry: “CAFA aims to support the industry by creating global awareness of the talent we have in this country. It is also here to build a stronger fashion community, bringing the industry together more, and to increase economic development opportunities. The industry has been very supportive of our work. People have really embraced what we are doing and are open to working with us in creating an even stronger platform. They see the value in not only the awareness we have brought to the industry, but the connections we have been able to make between people resulting in increased business opportunities.”
Why we need more than what CAFA can offer: “I think the Canadian industry can compete internationally—with more resources and support available to our designers, the sky’s the limit. The key is for us to make a commitment to help our industry grow, and that includes more grants and funding from the government. Our industry is very creative and unique. It is filled with incredibly talented, dedicated, hardworking and passionate people. I would love to see the industry succeed more internationally, and more opportunities abroad should be established in the form of collaborations, partnerships with other fashion weeks and showcases around the world, perhaps through cultural exchanges or trade missions. As well, I would love to see more exposure through digital platforms and e-comm. Many designers are available online but many more should develop that side of their business.”