#WeWantToKnow: Robin Kay
There isn’t a single person who lives, breathes and advocates for the Canadian fashion industry with more passion than Robin Kay. The founder of Toronto Fashion Week and a self-taught designer and retailer (she ran her eponymous fashion brand for 25 years that held 600 wholesale accounts across North America and 22 stores across Canada), Robin knows the Canadian fashion landscape better than anyone else I know, and she works tirelessly to raise awareness and push for change in national policy. Did you know that fashion designers aren’t considered artists according to the government’s written description of the creative cluster? And as a result, that there isn’t any government funding or support for such individuals in the way that dancers, sculptors, musicians and other artists are? I didn’t know that. And this specific reaction I had is what Robin wants to change - to raise awareness for what is lacking for fashion designers. More importantly, she is viscerally passionate about seeing change made to the charter and won’t rest until this change is made at the government level.
Robin has been a member of the Commonwealth Fashion Council (CFC) for the last four years, an opportunity to work in collaboration with other countries that will help her focus on her mission. The CFC held the first-ever Commonwealth Fashion Exchange on Monday, February 19th at Buckingham Palace, showcasing pieces created in collaboration between a designer and an artisan, each from a different Commonwealth country, with 53 countries represented at the event. Canadian fashion designer Lucian Matis was selected to represent Canada with a single gown, showcased alongside artisans from the Namibian Omba Arts Trust and chosen by the Woolmark Edit endorsement. Robin believes that there is a lot to be learned from other countries in how they support their artists and designers: “The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, rich in collaboration and creativity, is a testament to the global tapestry that makes up our industry. I believe Canada’s involvement in the CFC will generate a new conversation and positively enlighten our homeland fashion identity, providing direct insight into how other countries endorse and identify their fashion sectors. There is an urgent need for policy adjustments within the creative cluster to ensure the sector’s future as a viable pillar of culture and commerce.”
I’m incredibly inspired by Robin and by her drive to raise awareness and efforts to affect change in policy. She loves the Canadian fashion industry, it’s been good to her, and she gives back to it not only by fighting for change, but also through mentorship and sharing her lifelong knowledge of the industry with designers, and by working closely with them on the business side of fashion. Her passion has inspired me to join the ranks as one of her “fashion soldiers” and help her with her mission! Robin can’t do this alone, and the more people who are aware of what she is working towards, the better. Canada has so many talented designers and Robin is determined to create awareness around identification, support and programming for the work that they do.
Want more? Here’s what #WeWantToKnow about Robin:
I can't start my morning without… A walk in my park with my two pups.
I have a weakness for… The energy of this generation.
Most people don't know that I… Am from the Prairies!
- Johaan Hari - Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression
- All The Money in The World (a biopic on the Paul Getty dynasty)
I want... The fashion designers in Canada to have the endorsement of the federal government as a pillar of commerce and culture.
Thank you Robin, for everything you do for Canadian fashion, and for participating in #WeWantToKnow!
#WeWantToKnow is a series published on behalf of Wantfolio Group for Want.Canada and showcases and supports the leaders and talent in the Canadian creative arts community. Visit Want.Canada for all Canadian news, blogs, photo sharing & messaging.