Growing the Atlantic fashion industry

Originally published for: Print/Television Journalism class assignment

The word ‘fashion industry’ likely conjures up images of the glamorous cities of London and Paris, where twice a year models and designers flock to showcase their latest works on the runway.

Compared to the world’s fashion capitals, Atlantic Canada is far behind. However, it hasn’t stopped a dedicated group of people from growing the industry.

Fredericton was dressed to the nines for its first fashion industry meeting. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon
Fredericton was dressed to the nines for its first fashion industry meeting. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon

Kayley Reed is the co-founder of Wear Your Label, a fashion line that operates out of Fredericton. On Nov. 21, she held the first Fredericton Fashion Industry Night. The night brought together models, designers and photographers for a night of networking.

“It’s a really hard market to break into because there’s not really a lot of events for connection or community around the creative industries right now,” said Reed.

She says she and her partner were inspired by similar events in larger cities. It was organized in collaboration with the Fredericton Fashion Council.

Amanda Kincaid came from Halifax to attend. In 2012, Kincaid founded Line Magazine, a fashion magazine spotlighting Atlantic talent.

She said that meeting with local designers made her realize something was missing in the region. There were many talented people who wanted to stay on the East Coast, but felt pressured to move to bigger cities to grow their fashion lines.

Amanda Kincaid, co-founder of the Nova Fashion Incubator. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon
Amanda Kincaid, co-founder of the Nova Fashion Incubator. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon

This prompted her to co-found the Nova Fashion Incubator, which is set to open this month in Halifax. The Incubator is a shared space for designers to rent equipment and get the business know-how to start a successful line.

“To start a fashion collection takes all the equipment, which is about… $30,000,” said Kincaid.

She says the idea of a fashion incubator began in Toronto, and has since been copied all over the world. Kincaid hopes the Nova Fashion Incubator will become a fashion hub for the East Coast.

“We really want to be a place where everybody’s going to flourish in the fashion industry,” said Kincaid.

Reed agrees that there is not much of a fashion industry in the Atlantic provinces, but says the growth she has seen in the last few years has made her optimistic.

She says that she’s excited to see new developments that she hopes will kick-start the industry.

Kayley Reed hosted the Fredericton Fashion Industry Meeting on Nov. 21. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon
Kayley Reed hosted the Fredericton Fashion Industry Meeting on Nov. 21. Photo: Taylor Hoyt/NB Beacon

“Things like Atlantic Fashion Week, which has been happening for a few years now but is really starting to gain some traction, and things like what we’re doing here, which is bringing more people together and getting people to collaborate more.”

Both Reed and Kincaid agree that collaboration is important. Whether designers choose to co-host pop-up shops together or a photographer holds a workshop for models, it all contributes to the cause.

Kincaid says that where the industry is so small, people often have to rely on each other to grow.

Looking ahead, Kincaid says it’s the perfect time for Atlantic Canada to come into its own in style.

“We do have fashion, and we have a lot of it,” she says. “We have enough people to sustain a fashion industry.”

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Growing the Atlantic fashion industry

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