For the entire month of April I have explored the whiteness of the Canadian fashion scene, how the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic have surprisingly helped Black businesses grow and how this correlates to the Canadian fashion scene and ultimately how this growth would be beneficial to those running this industry. For this last piece, I want to really dive into how I think the Canadian fashion scene could make it’s mark globally.
I think the best thing the people who run the Canadian fashion scene could do is honour Indigenous peoples and culture by having their designers be the forefront of Canadian fashion. In all reality, Canada is there country that was stolen and we are all blessed to be living here. A lot of fashion styles have been stolen and appropriated from Indigenous people as well like beadwork, fringe and some tribal-like designs. I believe that continuing to honour the Indigenous can only push us closer to reconciliation though nothing will ever fix the pain they have faced as a group of people. Furthermore, I believe this is a true way we would stand out against other nations on the global fashion market. We should be proud that these people created this nation and have shared with us their works. Instead of stealing it we need to honour them, but their work on a pedastle for the worlds stage.
In working with Indigenous fashion designers and artists, I also envision Canada’s fashion scene to include more sustainability. In my research and studies of Indigenous works and fashion, we see a recurring theme to honour all things in nature they use to produce items. If we were to use leather for a purse, the Indigenous creators would ensure the meat, bones, and every possible element is used in an ethical and sustainable way. As we have it now, most cowhides from slaughter go to a landfill. In the world we have now, there continues to be meat consumption, and therefore there continues to be cowhides thrown away instead of used for leather. There should be a way in which these two industries come together to sustainably create clothing and feed the world. I think having an Indigenous and sustainable fashion industry in Canada could open the world’s eyes to what kind of collaborations are possible and how to have ethically sourced designs.
I believe starting by including and putting Indigenous fashion to the forefront, we open the door to welcoming fashion from around the world. I stated in a previous article that showcasing immigrant fashion is crucial to the success of the Canadian fashion scene because it is the only relatable fashion. I don’t think it would be just to showcase the fashion of every country Canada has welcomed across it’s border without first acknowledging how the country started. Once we claim (claim as in agree this represents us, not take from) Indigenous fashion as Canadian fashion we can then start to share, and stop appropriating, the fashion of every person who calls Canada home. As one of the most multicultural nations, who claims to be proud of that fact at every chance possible, we still steal other country’s art and talent and claim it as our own instead of showcasing the truth of where this talent comes from. Canada has the opportunity to have a miniature global fashion scene at home in one nation. Being able to see all 54 African countries represented on the same catwalk as Métis fashion and European fashion is something that the Canadian fashion industry should not ignore. We have people from all across the world living coast to coast. Seeing a global fashion show hosted in Canada is something I would pay for.
Though fashion is very important to me, so is activism and calling for change. Overall I hope to see an upheaval of how the fashion industry runs in a post-pandemic world. I hope to see more inclusion, not just from models asked to walk runways but also from designers featured and how we include them. I imagine a fashion show with Indigenous designers opening, using sustainable products and then showcasing various countries that makeup Canada’s multiculturalism. I hope we move past the days where the only people who participate in fashion shows are the same people and friend groups and we expand to people starting out, immigrants with amazing work who maybe haven’t created a brand concept yet but have the talent to sell product. The close-knit fashion community needs to broaden their horizons, open their arms and allow all immigrants, nationalities and walks of life into their industry. We all wear clothes. We all dress ourselves. We all participate in fashion.