Toronto Fashion Week Gets Democratic

Fall is in the air, which brings with it some fashion conundrums. Can you still wear white? Are sandals a faux-pas? is it too early to bust out the fur?  It also breeds enthusiasm for the pending, World MasterCard Toronto Fashion Week (try saying that 3 times over).  So mark you calendars: October 21 to 26 is a fashion frenzy!

We can expect to see the usual suspects on the runway, Pink Tartan, Joe Fresh, Sid Neigum, Rudsak, Bustle, etc. But this year, we see something new. On Saturday October 26, the entire day is dedicated to the consumer. That’s right, the gilded gates have been opened for those who don’t qualify to obtain an industry or media pass. CanadaFashionLaw has discussed this with some other fashionistas and was surprised to hear them scoff at this development.  Frankly, this was a little disappointing (and near-sighted).

Canada’s fashion industry needs Canadian consumers to be its champion.  Opening up fashion week to the consumer is a fantastic catalyst!  Also, hosting an open house breaks down the (some would say elitist) barriers of the fashion industry and allows all to access the fabulousness of it all!  Also, let’s face it.  There’s a good opportunity to make a little profit out of this endeavor.  All in all, it’s a win-win.

In fact, CanadaFashionLaw’s going to grab an extra ticket and take her mom so that she can see all the fan-fare!  Hope to see you there, too!  (Hi mom!)

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Banking on Patriotism to Help Launch Your Brand?

Emerging Canadian designers oftentimes target the Canadian market before venturing off into more lucrative international pastures.  Pulling on the patriotic heartstrings of Canadian consumers can be a useful marketing strategy: “support Canadian talent, buy Canadian fashion”.  This is all fair and valid…but it is important to know that the Canadian Competition Bureau is watching you.

The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that governs competition in the marketplace.  It wants to make sure that everybody is playing fair.  The Competition Bureau has taken it upon itself to ensure that Canadian product claims are valid.  Last year the Competition Bureau issued guidelines (“Made in Canada Claims” and “Enforcement Guidelines Relating to ‘Product of Canada’”).  These guidelines kick in only when you start to claim and promote that your merchandise is from Canada.  If you don’t make any country of origin claims, these guidlines do not apply.  Also, these guidelines only relate to non-food products.

There are two possible patriotic claims, “Made in Canada” and “Product of Canada”, which have different thresholds to satisfy.

Made in Canada:

The requirements to make this claim are easier to satisfy:

a)                 the last substantial transformation of the goods must have occurred in Canada; and

b)                 at least 51% of the costs of producing or manufacturing the goods have occurred in Canada.

If you claim that your product is “Made in Canada”, a qualifying statement must also be included.  For example: “Made in Canada with imported materials”.

If you do not expressly include the term “Made in Canada”, the Competition Bureau may interpret suggestive marketing ploys to insinuate that the product was Made in Canada, such as pictures of the Canadian flag or the maple leaf.  Thus, these criteria apply.

Product of Canada:

This claim has a higher threshold to satisfy:

a)                 again, the last substantial transformation of the goods must have occurred in Canada; and

b)                 at least 90% of the costs of producing or manufacturing the goods have occurred in Canada.

Breaking This Down

The “last substantial transformation” means that the goods are fundamentally changed in form, nature or appearance so that they appear new.

“Costs of producing or manufacturing” includes labour costs and costs to produce the materials.  It generally does not include overhead costs.

What Happens if you Don’t Comply?

The Competition Bureau can enforce the guidelines.  If you insinuate that your product is Canadian when it does not comply with these guidelines, the Competition Bureau can look to the Competition Act for enforcement.  False or misleading representations in relation to product advertising can elicit substantial monetary fines and, in some instances, criminal liability.