The fashion industry has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to challenging the status quo. Some designers embrace social movements long before they become embedded in mainstream society.
Now, however, people aren’t looking toward the catwalks of London and Paris for inspiration—they can find it in their own backyards. These four Canadian tastemakers have identified gaps in inclusivity and advocacy in the fashion world and are stepping up to rectify them.
Diana Di Poce is a content creator, stylist and editor, the face of Diana Dares and founder of DARE Magazine—your destination for “All Things Curvy.” Diana has made it her mission to prove that style has no size, discarding discriminatory values in fashion and sharing body-positive styling tips. She hopes to bring more diversity to the fashion industry and empower her plus-size audience to be daring with their style, no matter the size on their label.
Cripping Masculinity is an ongoing research project based out of Ryerson University and the University of Alberta that “explores how Disability, Deaf, or Mad Identified Men (Cis or Trans) and Masculine Identified Non-Binary People create and experience their identities through clothing in their everyday lives.” The project is spearheaded by Dr. Ben Barry, Chair and Associate Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University, and newly appointed Dean of Fashion at the internationally renowned Parsons school of design. Dr. Barry famously started his own modelling agency at the age of 14, one of the first agencies for those whose appearance didn’t conform to mainstream beauty ideals, and he has continued to challenge normative culture since. Crippling Masculinity has many branches including interviews, design workshops, and fashion shows and exhibitions, and is currently recruiting research participants for upcoming studies.
Miriam Baker is a Toronto-based designer who started her namesake clothing line when she observed there were no modern fashion brands tailored toward women with fuller busts. Feeling frustrated by this gap in the market, she decided to do something about it—and the results are impeccable. Miriam developed a line of sophisticated and flattering apparel timeless in nature. Her efforts were quickly recognized. In 2014 she won the prestigious Suzanne Rogers Award for Most Promising New Label and was featured in Women’s Wear Daily for being the first designer to garner the prestigious distinction with a line geared toward women with larger busts. Miriam’s designs are available for custom order on her website, and all pieces are handmade in Toronto to reduce unnecessary waste generated by mass production processes.
Selfish Swimwear is designed by Naomie Caron, a Montreal native with Haitian-Canadian roots. In 2017, she launched Selfish, a swimwear brand that uses predominantly sustainably and ethically sourced materials. Many brands tout sustainability, but Naomie surpasses the superficial label used by many brands touting ‘recycled materials’ in numerous ways. She believes that her pieces should last a minimum of five years, achieving this quality standard by using nylon imported from Italy, guaranteeing the stitches for a year, and even offering a repair service if the garment falters after one year’s time. Additionally, Selfish uses a material called ‘recycled fibres fabric,’ composed of fibres from common pollutants like rubber commercial carpets and fishnets, to reduce waste. Finally, she hires local seamstresses and subcontractors, ensuring that her pieces are all made in Montreal. The Selfish silhouettes are unique and universally flattering, and the retail website features women with a variety of body types. A notable design is the revolutionary ‘sports bra’ bikini top, which will come as a great relief for those who want to move while on the beach without fretting about chronic wardrobe mishaps.
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