Designer Michelle Roberts and retailer Megan Szanik advocate for local fashion


When shopping, most people don’t know or pay attention to where the clothing is made. It may not come as a surprise that a large portion of our clothing is mass-produced overseas. But why are local products not as popular in our closets?

Calgary designer Michelle Roberts and Calgary boutique owner Megan Szanik make convincing arguments for supporting locally made and distributed fashion.

Roberts, fashion designer of Emogene Couture, says she wants to provide consumers with different options other than the mass-produced cheap clothing so many of us are accustomed to buying and wearing. She says for her, it’s an ethical decision about keeping money closer to home.

“I think what’s so important to me about having things made in Canada is that it’s like this circle of life that creates a job here and people are paying Canadian money to workers that are here, providing jobs. The money goes right back in, stays within our country,” says Roberts.

Keeping money in the local economy is part of the argument, says Szanik owner of espy Experience located in Inglewood. She says supporting the local fashion industry also helps bring the community together.

“When we shop local, when we get involved with our local shop owners, our local businesses, our local communities, we become a part of something greater. And it’s that feeling that we put out there that really helps people continue to be engaged with the local,” says Szanik.

With 50 per cent of the clothing in Szanik’s boutique being Canadian-designed, and half of that being Canadian-made, she says she’s proud to tell the local story of the fashion in her store.

“I think that it is very important to continue to support fashion in our country and that we continue to say ‘yes we can make it here’ and ‘it does matter’,” says Szanik. “We have clients that are so excited to buy Canadian here and then when I tell them that somebody is from Calgary, I get an even bigger smile.”

Both Roberts and Szanik agree there are challenges when supporting the local fashion industry. For example, locally made fashion typically is more costly. But both say the payoffs can be beneficial to the local economy and allow for the opportunity to give better customer service back to the community.

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