We’re turning 150 and we’re still trying to figure out what it means to be Canadian
When people think of Canada fashion isn't the first thing to come to mind. Canadian stereotypes tend to revolve around lumberjacks, mounties, hockey and maple syrup. While we have all of the before mentioned people tend to forget that there's a lot more to Canada than what appears on the surface. Canada is a country built by immigrants and is extremely diverse as a result. In a country as diverse and as big as Canada it can be difficult to define what the typical Canadian is.
There's no shortage of talented Canadians in all parts of the Fashion industry. From well established names such as; Tommy Ton, the street style photographer; Imran Amed, founder of The Business of Fashion; Dean and Dan, the designers and founders of Dsquared; and Linda Evangelista, “I won't get up for less than $10,000 a day”. As well as young upcoming Canadians like; Petra Collins, the Canadian photographer who has already shot with major brands such as, Levis, Gucci, and Vogue; as well as Vejas Kruszewski, designer of Vejas and runner up to the LVMH Prize. What makes Canada and Canadians special is our diversity. However it also raises the question: What does it mean to be Canadian?
Due to the difference in climate across the country our local culture is influenced. The west coast has mild weather and beautiful outdoors meaning that outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, biking, and yoga (Lululemon’s founder is from Vancouver). The prairies are prime space for growing wheat and raising cattle creating it own obsession. Northern Ontario and Québec have their long harsh winters and too short but very nice summers. While our obsession other the weather and wind chill seems to be a universally Canadian trait is it really the thing that unites us?
For anyone who went through the Canadian public school system the phase, “Canada is a cultural mosaic, America is a melting pot.” is a very familiar phrase. For those of you that haven't heard it it the believe that in Canada people come to Canada and keep in touch with their roots thus creating a mosaic of the society and Canadian culture as a whole. Versus America where to goal is on immigrate and assimilate into white American Culture. Due to Canada’s emphasis on promoting multiculturalism it allows us as individuals to easily see many perspectives from different contexts and backgrounds.
Canada gives people the freedom to explore themselves and opens a lot of door to opportunities. I took the time to ask Robin Kay what she thought of what it means to be Canadian and what is Canadian style. “I call this arena ‘Made in Canada’ I am saying the designers, the artists who use clothing to express their talent, are born and live in Canada. These designers are influenced in exactly the same way other artists are by our own natural resources, Ott [sic.] multi cultural freedoms and simple good life efforts as pioneers and citizens of this great open land…”
So what does it mean to be Canadian? It means to exist in the duality of your identities whether that is Italian-Canadian, Chinese-Canadian, American-Canadian or any mix of identities. Being Canadian is about celebrating your and your friends differences and coming together to take advantage of the freedoms that are afforded to us living in Canada. Being Canadian doesn’t mean one thing or one definition it’s what we chose to make of it and it shows in our style. When I asked a classmate what she thought it meant to be Canadian she said:“Being Canadian is a lot about having personal freedoms. Like, I'm a first generation canadian and my parents came here because they knew that they wanted a different life for me and my sister than the one they had back home. Here, in Canada, there's no shame in pursuing a career in the arts, or being a little different or like, coming out even. And this stark difference that you can notice between my parents and the way, say, my cousin and my sister go about living their lives. And that obviously comes with a little or a lot of guilt because my parents upheaved their entire lives for opportunity for me, but that comes with the idea of being Canadian. There's openness in identity and openness in family and there's that strong sense of community. Being Canadian has me freezing my ass off in like, May, but I can do that wearing whatever I want, and maybe, that’s the price for identity and choice, I guess. “