Canadian fashion

Why Aren’t More Canadian Fashion Brands Going Global?

Improvements in manufacturing, logistics and communications have made it easier for designers to deal with competition and expand their presence.

Canada has many talented fashion designers, yet not many of them have tasted international success.

Some Canadian names have become familiar in the international fashion scene. Simon Chang and Peter Nygard are well known in the global circuit, Pink Tartan, which is a ready-to-wear collection sold at upscale department stores, is lead by Toronto-based Kimberley-Newport Mimran and has many fans.

There are few others too including another Toronto based designer Sid Neigum who recently had a showing at London Fashion Week.

But these success stories are not aplenty. They remain very low compared to the number of talented designers the country has.

It is not easy to become accomplished in the fashion industry, either in Canada or abroad. New entrants to the fashion world usually work crazy hours for very little recognition and remuneration. But there is another reason the designers of Canada do not see success internationally.

Designers, who are usually very creative-minded people, are not experts on the business side of their profession. They work hard and are very talented but could lack an entrepreneurial mind which is very important in running a fashion company, industry experts feel.

There are many global opportunities, which our domestic designers could be missing out on. Canada, which exports about $1 billion in textiles a year, should certainly be doing better in the international fashion scenario than it is now. Most of Canada’s fashion exports are to the U.S

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The brands also face issues with infrastructure in various markets as different products have specific customs and import rules which can be complicated.

Another reason could be the speed the business requires. The fashion industry operates based on speed, seasons change, fashions change. Producing a collection and then having it stopped somewhere for noncompliance of export or customs regulations is one of the worst things to happen to a designer.

Designers don’t have access to easy funding, either. They have to face various hurdles and borrow from lenders to start up their business. However, very talented designers are sometimes spotted by business experts at events and can get help running their business.

It also remains true that the world first official fashion incubator was established in Toronto in 1987, named Toronto Fashion Incubator it is a not for profit organisation which supports Canadian fashion and entrepreneurs.

Apart from the fashion incubator, Industry partners such as Mercedes-Benz and DHL help designers deal with infrastructure issues. Social media too, has played a role in giving visibility to talented designers.

Improvements in manufacturing, logistics and communications have made it easier for designers to deal with competition and expand their presence.

“Coming up with ideas is one thing; execution is the main thing,” he said. “Once a Canadian designer gets a customer base in the U.S., you have to make sure you have a very, very strong financial backup and logistics.” Patrick Assaraf, president of PYA fashion house, said.

Artists value creation while the entrepreneur creates value for their creation. For our domestic brands to become more visible and accessible globally, both would have to coexist and work in unison.