1984 – : FASHION INDUSTRY LIASON COMMITTEE

Fashion Industry Liaison Committee

Background:

One of the largest industrial employers in Toronto, the fashion/apparel industry is made up primarily of small, Canadian-owned companies who can benefit from our support. The Fashion Industry Liaison Committee was established by Toronto City Council in 1984 to support and promote Toronto’s fashion industry. The Committee is comprised of volunteers who represent all sectors of the industry, including education, design, manufacturing, wholesale, retail and labour. Subcommittees are created to work on various projects such as Marketing; Human Resources Development; Education; Awards; Technological Innovation; Export Promotion; Fashion District Revitalization; and Quick Response.

The City has established a proven track record in adding value to the industry and increasing Toronto’s international reputation as a centre of excellence in fashion design. By bringing all sectors of the industry together and focussing on key issues and needs, FILC provides valuable information and advice to the City and the industry. Program initiatives have, in the past, been predominantly funded and supported by Economic Development in the range of $100,000.00 per annum.

(a)Strength of the Industry:

According to Statistics Canada’s latest sector competitiveness profile, “The Canadian apparel industry has taken important steps in adjusting to major changes in its environment. Firms that have developed the ability to respond quickly, flexibly, and have a reputation of excellent design and high quality have succeeded in gaining a foothold in export markets. However the industry will continue to face intense competition in both domestic and international markets.”

Key facts:

  • apparel accounts for 1.6 percent of Canada’s manufacturing sector shipments and 6 percent of employment;
  • the national market for apparel is in excess of $8 billion (wholesale);
  • domestic shipments account for 58 percent of the market;
  • Ontario’s domestic shipments of apparel in 1996 were valued at $1.2 billion;
  • Toronto has 80 percent of the province’s apparel manufacturing jobs;
  • the City’s apparel shipments are estimated at almost $1 billion;
  • clothing exports have risen steadily during this decade;
  • Ontario’s apparel exports accounted for almost $450 million in 1996; and
  • preliminary figures suggest that Ontario’s 1997 exports will be up 25 percent over 1996.

Toronto’s fashion industry is making its mark as Canada’s premier fashion centre. Many of our best designers and manufacturers are carried alongside top international lines at prestigious retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods. The value-added through design is a important component of the industry’s competitiveness, and is often overlooked when viewing the apparel sector from a traditional manufacturing standpoint.

Following the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement in 1989, and the recession of the early 1990’s, the industry underwent a major restructuring. This process appears to be complete, and since 1994, employment in Toronto’s apparel manufacturing has experienced annual growth in the range of 2-5 percent, resulting in almost 1300 new jobs.

The apparel industry is highly clustered with major agglomerations in the King-Spadina Fashion District, at Dufferin-Keele South, Tapscott Employment District, Dufferin-Keele North, Carlaw Avenue, Malvern and Progress Employment Districts. Employment figures for the fashion industry are difficult to obtain, since they cross many sector codes. However, we estimate Toronto has:

  • 18,000+ apparel manufacturing jobs;
  • 11,000+ apparel retail jobs; and
  • 9,000+ fashion-related jobs (e.g. photographers, stylists, choreographers, media, makeup, etc.).