Made in Canada: The strategies, spaces and working lives of independent designers in the Canadian fashion system

  • Datum:
  • Plats: University Hall Room IV, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Brydges, Taylor
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Kulturgeografiska institutionen
  • Kontaktperson: Brydges, Taylor
  • Disputation


Drawing on 87 interviews with independent fashion designers and key informants, this thesis is a collection of papers which aim to explore the strategies, spatial dynamics and working lives of independent fashion designers in the Canadian fashion industry. The majority of fashion design firms in Canada are small independent businesses, typically run by an individual or pair of designers, with few employees. Independent fashion designers create unique small businesses, produce high quality garments defined by the label ‘made in Canada,’ strategically mobilize physical and virtual spaces within the national system, and yet, the long-term viability of these businesses is far from certain. The Canadian fashion industry is facing a number of systemic challenges relating to wider institutional and policy weaknesses that make it difficult to grow a long-term domestic or international fashion business. However, the findings also suggest that a key strength of the Canadian fashion system is that it offers a variety of spaces for designers of different sizes, scales, and motivations. Throughout this thesis lies the tension between the quest for independence and creative freedom, which often comes at the cost of highly precarious entrepreneurial and labouring conditions. This thesis contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of ‘second tier’ fashion cities and regional systems, the entrepreneurial motivations and working lives of independent fashion designers, the locational choice decisions and the mobility of patterns of creative workers in the digital age, and the evolving nature of intermediation and value creation within the fashion industry.