Fashion Advocacy: The Ontario Government Should Support and Fund the Fashion Industry

We wish to draw your attention to an important issue that is occurring right now that affects the fashion industry and ask for your support.

In 2014-2015, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport invested approximately $800 million into the province’s cultural industries. To date, the fashion industry has been ineligible to receive any of this funding on the basis that it does not qualify as culture or arts.

Ashlee Froese, a fashion lawyer who is a Bay Street partner, co-chair of FGI, and a mentor with TFI and CAFA, is filing submissions to the Government of Ontario advocating that fashion should be eligible for government funding. A number of entities and individuals have officially endorsed her submission, including the 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, Novella Magazine, Toronto Men’s Fashion Week.

We believe that mass support from within the fashion community will help get the fashion industry noticed.

We invite you to familiarize yourself with Ashlee’s submissions, which can be accessed here: Ontario Culture Consultation.

If you support this position, please sign the petition which can be accessed here.  The deadline is December 7, 2015.

This submission has been endorsed by the Toronto Fashion Incubator, Fashion Group International, the Canadian Arts and Fashion Fund, Lisa Tant, Jeanne Beker, Suzanne Rogers, David Dixon, Paul Mason, Sue Roadburg, Dierdre Kelly and Stylist Box.

Together we can make this happen, together we will make this happen!

Thank you.

Politics, Lobbying and Fashion: A Fabulous Combination?

Last week, CanadaFashionLaw advised its readers that the Ontario Government is conducting open consultations with respect to setting up a Culture Strategy for Ontario.  Fashion is not included as part of culture.  One of CanadaFashionLaw’s mantras is: don’t ask, don’t get.  With respect to the consultation, our position is that if you don’t like the status quo, change it!  (And if you want our help to change the status quo, let us know!).  Ultimately, industry has to inform the government of the realistic ‘boots on the ground’ business impact that laws have.

There’s always an interesting dance between industry and the government.  Oftentimes industries flourish when it has government support.  When industries don’t have that support, industry players will band together to lobby the government to make laws more favourable.  Statistics on whether the Canadian fashion industry is very involved in lobbying the government for progressive change is sparse.  Sometimes this is on purpose as corporations are hesitant to demonstrate their overt influence on the government.

Examples in the US of where the fashion industry has actively lobbied government to change laws include attempts to change the US Copyright Act to include specific protection for fashion designs and to build support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  If you’re wondering why the fashion industry would have a vested interest in the TPP – the TPP will eliminate tariffs of textiles and apparel.  (Of course, this could put a major dent in the ‘Made in America’ movement).  In 2015 alone, the US fashion industry spent big on this issue.  For example, the US National Retail Federation spent $3 million on lobbying the US government, Target spent $770,00, JC Penny spent $410,000 and the Gap spent $160,000.  That is some significant investment!

It will be interesting to see if the Canadian fashion industry will band together to get the Ontario government to consider fashion to be part of culture.

If you’re interested in chatting about this more, feel free to reach out to CanadaFashionLaw.

Ontario Government Setting up Culture Strategy – fashion not included (yet)

As a fashion lawyer, I understand the importance of the interplay between government support and the legal framework in order for industry to flourish.  The fashion industry is no exception.

An opportunity has presented itself that I felt important to bring to your attention.

The Ontario provincial government is creating a Culture Strategy for Ontario.  This is a first for Ontario, which is fantastic.  However, there is an important omission: the fashion industry is not included as part of ‘culture’ or the ‘arts’.  Creating the Culture Strategy for Ontario is in its infancy and the government wants your input.  As such, the Province will be conducting a series of consultations to ensure that the Culture Strategy of Ontario encompasses and impacts what is important to Ontarians.

There is a lot at stake if fashion continues to be excluded as part of ‘culture’ and ‘arts’.  In 2014-2015, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport’s total spending on culture was $800 million.  Now is our opportunity to ensure that fashion is included in the budget.  The fashion industry is a significant contributor to Ontario’s culture and economy; but, unfortunately it is up to the fashion industry to prove that it deserves to get a piece of the pie.

If you would like to get more information, visit the Culture Strategy’s website at

If you would like to have your voice heard, you can:

  1. send your comments in writing to  The comments must be submitted by December 7, 2015; and/or
  2. attend a public town hall meeting, which will held at various cities throughout Ontario.  The Toronto town hall meeting will be held on November 12 from 7pm to 9:30pm at Currie Hall at the National Ballet School.  (For other cities, please go to for details).

Join the conversation.