In the previous post “CANADIAN FASHION: GROUP SHOT / CANADIAN MAGAZINE / FEBRUARY 1 1975” I mentioned the CFDA / Canadian Fashion Designers Association, and said that there would be more to come on this and other Canadian Fashion Support Organisations.

With the CAFA’s (yes CAFA, not CDFA, a completely different organisation) announcement of their 2016 nominees it seemed like this was the time to start the roll-out.

The first internationally recognized organisation was The Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne; the association of Parisian couturiers, which was founded in 1868, and was an extension of the guild system that had been in place for several centuries. Canada at that time had just celebrated its confederation in 1867, a tiny embryo that would take the following 100 years to see itself grow to gain a recognised and viable foothold among many of the worlds commercial fields. Raw goods were our trump card, we had more natural resources than almost anyone else on the planet. The finery of fashion was as far from natural resources as you could get. Although we had been able to cover ourselves from head to toe in Canadian made goods they were not necessarily of the fashionable variety. Survival was the key in a new and still developing Canada, unlike the display of excessive frippery being paraded in a very old and well established and Louis (XIV, XV, and XVI) celebrated France.

Canadian designer’s have created desirable fashion from at least the beginning of the 20th century. As their footing in Canadian society was recognized, the designers could see the benefit of a national organisation of their discipline, as seen in other countries. The Association of Canadian Couturiers (l’Association des Couturiers Canadiens) (ACC) was the first fashion organisation in Canada, formed in 1954.

The well established and government supported Chambre Syndical has continued its reign with such strength that it has been able to alter its parameters considerably as the fashion world has changed, and is still in place as the bastion some 150 years later. This has not been the case in Canada. The Association of Canadian Couturiers / ACC was disbanded in 1968, a run of less than 20 years. We have not yet to establish one governing or supporting body that has remained. Stretched across a large land with a small and quite divided population, who cannot among themselves decide what the common goal is, fashion organisations like our fashion industry, flounder, for many reasons.

Today’s post is the first in an ongoing series “THE CANADIAN FASHION SUPPORT SYSTEM” that will chronicle the various organisations that have attempted to be in support of Canadian Designers and Manufacturers.

I would like to take a moment to say “THANK YOU” to Norma Meneguzzi Spall, who, having worked with many of these organisations, beginning in the mid 1970’s with the CFDA, provided some amazing help in unravelling a spider’s web of names and dates (along with some very fondly shared anecdotes). There will be more on Norma herself, along with many other players who have supported our industry on a personal as well as professional level.

I will begin in the present, with the aforementioned CAFA, in the following post.

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