As a publication, our mission is to highlight and support Canadian fashion designers to create visual stories that helps to bring awareness to their brand. We have heard countless times the financial struggles they face trying to stay in business. Ashlee Froese is leading the charge to stop the Ontario Government from neglecting the province’s talented designers.
1. How did the petition come about?
Last year the Ontario government spent over $800 million supporting the arts and culture community. For the first time, the Ontario government is creating a Culture Strategy and has asked for input from stakeholders as to what the Culture Strategy should encompass. Fashion has not been included as the government does not believe that it qualifies as arts or culture. Therefore, the fashion industry is ineligible for funding as part of the Culture Strategy. I, along with a conglomerate of influential fashion industry players, believe that fashion is a significant part of the arts and culture of Ontario and, therefore, should be eligible for government funding.
2. Why should this issue be important to more than just fashion insiders?
Where do I begin?! There are a number of reasons. First, the fashion community is filled with talented, hardworking, enterprising and dedicated professionals who are in need to financial support. Second, we are all consumers of the fashion industry. Third, the fashion industry is a SIGNIFICANT economic contributor and has the potential to be more so in Canada, with the right sort of support and funding. Investing in the fashion industry will provide a return on investment, that we all benefit from. Fourth, the fashion industry is multi-layered and spans a number of industries. The impact of investing in the fashion industry goes beyond the fashion industry itself and extends to other industries such as manufacturing, skilled labour, retail, entertainment, hospitality, and tourism. Fifth, the fashion industry has a robust infrastructure. We have numerous post-secondary institutions, incubators, accelerators, trade shows, mentoring organizations, and fashion shows. The fashion industry is already structured in a way to ensure that any funding is not thrown into an abyss.
3. What are the benefits of having fashion recognized by the Ontario Government?
Once fashion is recognized by the Ontario Government as a part of arts and culture, it will be eligible for key funding that it is need of.
4. What has the response been like since the launch of the petition?
Amazing! It is really heartwarming and exhilarating to see the fashion industry as a whole get behind this initiative. Within a few days, we were able to secure endorsements of key organizations and industry leaders such as Toronto Fashion Incubator, Fashion Group International, the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, Lisa Tant, Jeanne Beker, Stylist Box, Sue Roadburg, David Dixon, Suzanne Rogers, Deirdre Kelly, Paul Mason, Robert Ott, Sabrina Maddeaux, Ryerson Fashion Zone, Mikael D, and Novella Magazine. In addition, we have also garnered the support of close to 600 people… and the numbers literally jump exponentially forward by the hour.
5. How can people get involved?
I have drafted up a submission to the Ontario government that encourages it to invest in the fashion industry. You can read the submissions at www.canadafashionlaw.com. If you agree with our position, please expressly support it by signing the petition at: https://www.change.org/p/ontario-ministry-of-tourism-culture-and-sport-hon-michael-coteau-mpp-don-valley-east-fashion-advocacy-petition-the-ontario-government-to-fund-and-support-the-fashion-industry
Ashlee Froese is a fashion lawyer, partner on Bay Street and recognized as a Certified Specialist by the Law Society of Upper Canada. She is co-chair of FGI, a mentor with TFI and CAFA and an advisor with Ryerson Fashion Zone. She has been published academically on fashion law and is a frequent guest lecturer on fashion law throughout North America.