When people hear 'Made in Canada', customers automatically think about production, but being a true Canadian-Made clothing company, the focus is on more than just local production. We are focused on being local at every step of the design process. This blog post will break down what really goes into locally made clothing.

Fall of 2021, all my favourite designers were reunited at the One of a Kind Show. Many of them, including myself, changed up their businesses during the pandemic. They went from fancy dresses to casual, opened shops, hired employees, brought production in-house, they all made moves to keep their companies going. Each of us has different aspects to our companies and when we were reunited I learned how hard each one was working to keep every part of their business locally made. This inspired me to help educate customers on what goes on behind the scenes of a locally made clothing company. So much of the fashion industry is still a mystery to customers and this post is allowing you to peek behind the curtain. Let’s start with fabric, a crucial part of clothing production. There are four options that brands can choose.

Manufacturing your own fabric

Blondie, Okay Ok & Mini Tipi are just a few Canadian Companies that do this. It allows them to create their own patterns and colour schemes specific to them. This is a more expensive route but is really worth it to bring that uniqueness that customers seek when buying locally. Not all Canadian Made companies work with local mills and this is because there aren’t a lot of options. For example, Mini Tipi works with an Italian mill because their fabric is a wool weave and there are no Canadian options when it comes to this production. When choosing a fabric manufacturer obviously we would all love to work locally, but because so much of our production has moved overseas there are limited companies in Canada to work with. As buyers what we need to look for is transparency, which these brands have. Local brands, like these, are honest, passionate, and eager to talk about their fabric production and how it enhances their brand's personality. 

Blondie Apparel, Okay Okay, Mini Tipi, Canadian Made Companies

Buying fabric from a wholesaler

Most Canadian clothing companies opt for this because it is cost-efficient, especially at the start. Fabric wholesalers provide you with a wide range of options, from casual cotton, and printed fabric, to bridal and couture. It allows you to buy smaller quantities which is a great way to test our fabrics with customers and you don’t have to have as much space for storage. I can attest to this option, I have shopped with a wholesaler for Copious since the start of my company. Shopping through a wholesaler has allowed me to grow my brand and figure out what fabric my clients want to see. 

shopping with a fabric wholesaler

Printing your Own Fabric

Companies like Daub & Design, Desserts and Skirts & Poison Pear, tie-dye & silk screen their own designs onto fabric. This allows brands to bring a distinctive edge to their company, making one-of-a-kind fabric. When I think of each of these companies, my mind instantly goes to their fabric, it is their stand-out factor!

Daub and Design, Desserts and Skirt, Poison Pear, companies that silk screen and tie dye

Upcycling Fabric

This is not a new concept, but right now more brands are opting to upcycle, including myself. Whether you upcycle your own scrap fabric or thrift fabric, this option is special for different reasons. It is better for the environment, allows a brand to create one-of-a-kind, small-batch clothing & creates thoughtfulness while designing, you have to squeeze as much as you can with the small amount of fabric you have. With Nini is a brand at the forefront of working with thrifted and scrap fabric and she is educating her clients on the importance of style over stuff.
* All of these options are great and one is not better than the others. Each brand has to go down the path that works best for ethos.
With Nini and Copious, two upcycling brands


When it comes to clothing designers that you see at the One of a Kind Show, all of us make our clothing in Canada. Some brands hire local production companies and work alongside them to create their clothing, others sew each piece themselves. Some companies designs are upcycled and some use a combination of these options. Ultimately what you should look for as a customer when shopping at a Canadian Made clothing company is transparency. There are few rules when it comes to who can and can’t put a ‘Made in Canada’ tag on their clothing and there are fewer people actually regulating these minimal rules. I know customers don’t have a lot of time to do research, but when you wander the One of a Kind Show, each and every fashion designer will proudly talk about their production process and I encourage you to do this. Keeping your production local allows the designers to be at each step throughout the supply chain and we love sharing how we keep it local throughout this process. Now, you might be asking yourself, besides fabric and production, what else goes into a fashion designer’s supply chain? 

supply chain

Every aspect of our brand is a part of our supply chain. Notions; thread, buttons, zippers, etc., clothing labels, content labels, price tags, shipping materials, business cards, and all branding promotion is taken into consideration. In the early 2000s as more clothing production was moved overseas our options became fewer and fewer, mostly we all shop from the same suppliers, but there are still options and each company is beyond accommodating. When I started Copious the local design community welcomed me and helped me figure out where to shop to keep my supply chain local. We understand, that for us to survive they need to as well, it isn’t about competition, it is about keeping everyone in business. A great example of a company we all use is Laven. Next time you are shopping locally check out the clothing labels and you will see their work. 

why shopping made in canada clothing is important

When you shop locally you are not supporting one business, but many businesses and making well-paid jobs available as well. The inspiration for this blog post was directly connected to a conversation I had with Adrienne from Okay Ok. She talked about hiring an employee and knowing what to pay based on information from the company Ontario Living Wage Network. Hearing her talk made it so clear why we should all be shopping local. Large corporations are only thinking of their bottom line and not the financial health of their employees. Made in Canada means so much more than just having your production in Canada. It is about being ethical and thinking locally throughout the entire supply chain, production, and the hands that help get that product made. 

Written by Carissa McCaig

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I love reading your posts, I learn something new with every read!

Mom on Apr 24, 2023

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