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 was raised in Vancouver by my mom, but spent holidays back in Toronto with my dad. By the time I was 15, I had moved to New York to pursue modeling.”
Home base: “Westchester county, a rural suburb just north of Manhattan.”
Coco’s assessment: “I think there is an incredible amount of talent coming out of Canada in every avenue of fashion, from models to designers to photographers to makeup and hair artists. On the other hand, I feel that Canadian talent is often underappreciated within Canada. From many conversations I’ve had over the years, I’ve come to realize that Canadian talent often feels that it’s necessary to leave Canada in order to finally be appreciated in their home country, which I think is a great shame.”
Spread the love: “I’ve been modeling 15 years and I don’t think a year has gone by that I haven’t gone back to Canada to work with a local brand or magazine. It’s always a wonderful homecoming and I love the teams of professionals I’ve come to know and work with over the years. Canadian designers are my friends and dress me often—my favorite makeup artist who I frequently take with me around the world is Veronica Chu, who still lives in Toronto. While I personally feel incredibly supported in Canada, I would love to see a better arrangement to support Canadian designers. The fact that Toronto Fashion Week has fragmented is a great shame. For my Canadian designer friends, I would love to see that return bigger and better than ever.”
Canadian pride: “I think Canadian talent is world class. People like Linda Evangelista and Dean and Dan Caten from Dsquared2 are household names in every fashion school and fashion capital around the world. For the Canadian fashion industry to be taken seriously as one cohesive unit, it has to come together to support its own in a much more involved way. Canada should take more pride in its home-grown talent, and find concrete ways to nurture and develop them so that they don’t feel the need to leave to find success.”
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This post is part of The Canada Project, a representative survey of Canadians from across the country. You can find out more right here.