Why is Canada killing its fashion industry?

The clothing industry in Canada is under assault

Earlier in July, IMG events management announced the cancellation of Toronto Fashion Week due to a lack of commercial and local interest.

Catherine Bennett, senior vice-president and managing director of IMG Fashion Events & Properties, said to The Canadian Press: “We really felt that our Canadian fashion footprint was not generating the local commercial funding that we really required in order for us to continue producing the event to the highest standard that, really, the industry deserves and the designers in Toronto deserve.”

Why is Canada killing its fashion industry trusted clothes

In fact, this lack of interest is putting a serious crimp on the funding that local fashion designers depend on to do their work: it has become such an issue that one Toronto fashion lawyer believes it is time that the Ontario government opened its purse to start funding Canadian designers actively.

There is a common theme when it comes to the local fashion industry: money. Or the lack thereof, said Ashlee Froese to Huffington Post Canada. Under the current Ontario and federal funding schemes, Canadian designers aren’t eligible for grants because fashion isn’t considered a cultural industry on par with publication and filmmaking.

People tend not to take fashion business seriously as a legitimate source of creative, technological innovation and manufacturing growth.

As a longtime resident living in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, otherwise known as Canada’s Technology Triangle, I can say, with some sheepishness, that I am guilty of that line of thought. Here in the KW region, with two world-class universities and one of the best polytechnic colleges in Ontario, the focus has always been on technological innovation. It has never occurred to me (and perhaps to you as well) that fashion and clothing design could be technologically innovating and a driver of manufacturing and economic growth.

But slowly, this misconception is changing.

Cities like New York have recently come to realize the importance of reviving the local fashion industry. According to Aljazeera America, The city’s Economic Development Corporation and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have launched the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative, providing grants to manufacturers for equipment or capital improvements, funding training programs to teach American workers specialized sewing skills. Furthermore, the Economic Development Corp. has granted $15 million to a relatively new venture, Manufacture NY, a massive space in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn dedicated to giving ousted factory owners a new place to build their businesses, with affordable rents in a part of the city zoned only for manufacturing. The organization also offers help to designers trying to start new businesses in New York.

Although the Canadian fashion scenes are more behind in this regard, industry leaders in Montreal are starting to take collaborative action: Jacques Daoust, Quebec’s Economy, Innovation and Exports Minister, has announced that the recently established mmode cluster will support the industry’s growth and competitiveness. The province of Quebec and municipality of Montreal are providing a total of $200,000 in startup funding. Several modern brands like Frank & Oak and Matt & Nat call Montreal home and have embraced digital and innovation in production.

Torontonian consumers spend a total of $3,816 per household on clothing each year which adds up to $5.8B a year of Canadian money spent on apparel. Therefore, it’s no overstatement to say clothing takes up a big part of our spending. It is perhaps high time for us to shift our thought paradigm in regards to fashion: clothing can be a driver of technology innovation and economic growth.

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portrait of William Lee

About the Author

This is Will, current content coordinator at Trusted Clothes. Will is a writer at heart with a journalism print background. An award-winning writer and video producer, Will divides his time between super-heroing at Trusted Clothes and being a complete die-hard Star Trek fan. And wearing funny Captain Picard shirts too.

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