the Hoser post

Okay! I am here today to acknowledge the Truth.

Canadian Fashion Revealed!

Wake up Canada. Our core Fashion Identity is not sexy, hot, or fashionable. This is what people think of when they think of Canadian fashion:

Beaver-felt hats. The first Canadian industry was trapping beaver pelts to make top hats for Rich Europeans.

The Parka. An innovation of our Inuit first peoples. Also, mukluks.

The Toque. Just admit it. It’s okay.

The Hudson’s Bay blanket-coat.

Flannel Shirts

Hockey Jerseys.

Fur Coats

That’s it. It’s not a very sexy or exciting outfit is it? Our fashionistas turn their nose up at our stereotypical history, looking outward and copying other more fashionable nations in a game of catch-up where we never come out ahead.

Some of our more successful exports have a sense of humour or some other twisted take on it.

Click on the 2004 campaign with Naomi Campbell.

I think too often we play it safe, evoking our awful Anglo Protestant fashion sense from back in the day when Toronto was “Toronto the Good”. We’re constantly trying to please, and so never really provoke.

The fact is that we’re at our best when we loosen up. We’re Canadian – when we take ourselves seriously we are hypnotically boring. When we’re as honest as we should be we’re darkly hilarious.

I say embrace Canadianism, stop being embarrassed by it. Let’s actively exploit our own history instead of borrowing others for inspiration or comparison. That stupid envy we have for places that seem fancier, more fashionable, and intimidating? Make fun of that too. London, Paris, and New York cash in on their stereotypes all the time so why shouldn’t we? Even if our true identity is kind of anti-fashion, ruggedly functional, and with a slightly bleak sense of humour, this is great. If we accept it, we can work with it, not against it.

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9 thoughts on “the Hoser post”

  1. Wholeheartedly agreed, although, I think many Canadians could stand to dress better. I don’t mean giving up the Hudson’s Bay stripes, or toques etc (love that ‘made in Canada’ kind of apparel), but we really do lack creativity as a whole. The first time I set out exploring Europe on my own, I was blown away by how classy and well put together everyone looked- and they didn’t even seem conscious of it.

    * LOVE flannel! and I forever maintain that lumberjack shirts are (well, can be) sexy on men and women.

    Thanks for the link.

  2. I think Canadian fashion can be highly creative and often quirky. We have some amazing designers and craftspeople in Canada. The problem in Canada is that we have very conservative consumers who are afraid to express themselves. Working in retail for a few years I can tell you that Canadians on a whole are very timid people when it comes to fashion.

    I once had a customer who wouldn’t buy tiny horseshoe clover stud earrings because she thought someone would notice and think she was too old to be wearing them so instead she bought the plain circles. It took her over 45 minutes to make this decision. Canadians are funny, I think it’s just how we are in Canada “safe.”

    Not all Canadians are unfashionable though don’t forget Montreal they have an amazing sense of style and creativity.

  3. Creatively exploit “anti-fashion, ruggedly functional, and with a slightly bleak sense of humour”? Oh yeah! And I’m with Eurobrat about the flannel.

    Happy to be “Just South of Canada”.

  4. Speaking of flannel, why is the “Scarborough Dinner Jacket” not mentioned ? It has been a staple for many years and survives today in many urban and rural areas.

    And what about the pre-requisite club hockey jacket ? It is a young mans first foray in peer acceptance thru fashion.

  5. Oh yeah, the club hockey jacket!

    And speaking as a rural girl, I did not include “Hunter Orange”, that autumn staple. You can even see flourescent orange camoflage, on occasion. How’s that for irony in fabric form?

    Plus that hat with the earflaps, what is that called?

  6. The hat is a derivitive of the hat worn in many mountainous areas . Think Nepalese sherpas. Heck, didn’t Dr Zhivago wear one ? The earflaps always have a drawstring sytem to affix in an upright position to be worn once temperatures reach 32 degrees F. I am so surprised Bob and Doug never donned one all those years. They were so loyal to their toques.
    Canadian Tire sells a black/brown pleather faux fur lined number. It is favoured by Carribbean Canandians.
    What is it called? Ithink the flannel one is called The FUDD hat.

  7. You know… I am getting all sorts of fab ideas for a campaign for Canadian manufacturing… Irv, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

  8. Maybe. You could build a very successful campaign around this very theme. Whether it be the “hoser” hat, the Flannel “dinner” jacket or coyote trimmed parka. How would you then attempt to focus on the high needle items coming out of Montreal, Toronto, Winnepeg, and the other various centers with still vibrant manufacturing communities?
    You bring up some good possibilities. Don’t forget to mention the CDN sensibility that the world has come to adore.

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