“Fashion is a form of art, and as Canadians, we have the fundamental right to exercise our freedom of expression through the clothing we wear, create, design, sell and/or purchase. To successfully achieve this, we have to create an environment that allows these individuals to succeed,” said Mathi, who is based in Ottawa.
“As a Black woman, I wanted to create a platform to change the stigma around Canadian fashion, and put my efforts to create equal opportunity for a better future in the industry,” said Tesfamicael, who is based in Toronto.
They are Co-CEOs and Co-Founders of the initiative.
The two entrepreneurs believe Canada has the potential to become a fashion powerhouse and reclaim Canadian fashion from international influences. They say fashion is crucial to our national identity and our diverse population. Looking at the successes of dominant global allies in the fashion industry, the opportunities for Canada are exponential. Canada Fashion Network’s mission is to build a community for the Canadian fashion industry and strengthen the impact of Canadian fashion in the global economy. The network is open to all supporters, fashion enthusiasts, photographers, videographers, makeup artists, stylists, models, influencers, and investors.
Mathi is a Canadian makeup artist with Luxi Management since 2018. The company is a marketing firm that helps Canadian businesses. Tesfamicael is a fashion designer, who makes custom clothing for clients, and a marketing expert.
“While I was working on the business of creating Lidia Daniel I had a lot of questions and concerns. Friends of mine had group discussions to talk about it, on how we can improve Canadian fashion and I found that everyone had the same concern . . . We started Ottawa Fashion Network with little events and networking events to get people to work together,” said Tesfamicael. “Luxi and I started it and we had a group of people that we worked with to really try and be creative and find ways to answer the questions of why the development of fashion is slow in Canada.”
The Network plans to address commonly faced issues in the industry, including the lack of community support, fashion related carbon emissions, cultural awareness and appropriation, representation, financial aid, job opportunities, recognition, resources, safety, sustainable fashion, and technology.
The Co-Founders said last year’s critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) showed us that the need for “Made in Canada” fashion and production is essential.
“We wanted to connect the dots and help people who are passionate about something, help them be profitable because that’s another problem in Canada in fashion. Becoming profitable and turning that passion into a business,” said Mathi.
She said Canada can become a fashion powerhouse.
“Canadians are very proud of their own identity and we’re so diverse. It’s important for us to have and give people the same opportunities as if you were to live in the States or the UK because we are seeing that other countries have more opportunity in fashion and the numbers show it if you look at their income in the fashion industry in comparison to Canada,” said Mathi. “Canada is very strong but they haven’t kind of created their identity with fashion. Their income in fashion is a lot lower in comparison when we look at the stats. But the research is very limited . . . It’s an industry that needs to be built.”
Tesfamicael said the Canadian fashion industry really needs to be nurtured from the ground up.
“We’re encouraging everyone to tell us their experiences, tell us their concerns, get involved with each other in a more inclusive and exciting way. For us our job is to really create the market research and figure out what’s the best approach. This is our approach,” she said. “So far it’s already affecting so many people. Everyone’s excited that’s heard about it. We feel the more that we talk about it people will start remembering and have value with Canadian fashion because it’s not being talked about in the media, it’s not being talked about anywhere else.
“Our efforts are to try to bring more excitement, bring more content. Just a better outcome and a better future for the Canadian fashion industry.”
All proceeds of Canada Fashion Network will be invested in raising awareness, conducting research, advocating for Canadian fashion on a national and international level, and finding solutions to issues while creating job opportunities and resources for Canadians.
The two have put out a call to action on their social media platforms, asking the community to get actively involved by filling out a survey, signing a petition, donating and sharing their personal stories and experiences. The goal of this first step is to spark a conversation about Canada’s fashion industry and its future.
For more information, visit www.canadafashionnetwork.com.