September 15 2020 – Kate Abram
Here at DAUB, we proudly make and design all of our garments in Canada. We do our best to support Canadian manufacturing and we work with Canadian seamstresses to create each DAUB item. Being based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, we also design our pieces and prints exclusively in Canada, and while "Designed in Canada" and "Made in Canada" may sound similar, they are different. These two separate categories of garments come together in the DAUB that you wear and they also indicate very different production methods that we're going to unpack.
WHAT DOES "DESIGNED IN CANADA" MEAN?
When a label reads “Designed in Canada,” it means that somewhere along the process of a garment’s design, someone in Canada participated in creating the piece. That’s it: "Designed in Canada" doesn't mean that any part of a garment was made in Canada. It's simple, but vague, and a brand doesn't have to meet any further qualifications to make this claim.
There is no guarantee that ethical labour practices have been used and a “Designed in Canada” garment could have been made anywhere in the world.
WHAT DOES "MADE IN CANADA" MEAN?
When a garment is marked "Made in Canada," this means that the last substantial transformation (i.e. the big steps taken to create the end product being sold - cut and sew being a major portion) took place in Canada, and at least 51% of the direct costs of producing the goods are Canadian.
That's a lot of fancy (and legal) words to say that a "Made in Canada" label means that your item was produced, and manufactured in Canada, while the majority of the profits from that garment funnel back into the Canadian economy.
The fabric supply & manufacturing chain in Canada has changed immensely in the last 20 years. Even in the last 5 years, we’ve seen a number of factories close due to increasing commercial rents & property taxes, an ageing workforce and low numbers of skilled workers available to support production demands. The BC Apparel & Gear Association is working to help support training initiatives and immgiration for skilled workers at many levels.
DAUB works in small batches which means we are purchasing small amounts of fabrics - often 1-2 rolls of seasonal colours in addition to our base fabrics. We work with vendors who are certified OEKO-TEX standard for our basics program and are trying to move towards these and recycled fabrics for our activewear. OEKO-TEX 100 is a global standardization certification which means essentially that fabrics are responsible from fibre to finished fabric. We then take over with responsible manufacturing here in Canada. As we grow and our yardage increases, we’ll be trying to start working with Canadian mills for our fabrics.
THE IMPACTS OF MADE IN CANADA
Other than having local pride, why should the difference between “Designed in Canada” and “Made in Canada” matter to you?
The fashion industry is a major source of our earth’s pollution. The fashion industry is responsible for emitting more carbon than maritime shipping and flight travel combined and creates 20% of the world’s wastewater through dyeing and treatment. At the same time, fashion is notorious for treating garment workers unethically, from providing unsafe working conditions to paying garment workers unfairly.
In Canada, our government diligently follows up on labour and sustainability standards that Canadian manufacturers operate under.
THE ETHICS OF BUYING CANADIAN-MADE
Canadian workplaces operate under strict labor regulations that enforces that workers are paid and treated fairly on the job. Worker safety and living wages are taken very seriously here, and a “Made in Canada” tag not only reflects environmental responsibility but ethical responsibility too. Although it is often far cheaper for an item to be made overseas, it can also become far more difficult to guarantee that a garment was made ethically. It can cost pennies on the dollar overseas or conversely, 2-6xs times more expensive to produce in Canada. We are also often purchasing fabrics or notions in USD, which adds another 25-35% plus freight to the costs. As you can see, ethical Canadian manufacturing can add up quickly! It can be tough to price fairly AND also offer the expectation of free shipping & discounts on top.
Consider your “Made in Canada” tag a badge of pride that your garment has been manufactured responsibly, with less environmentally harmful production and more ethical than other garments made in places that have less regulation surrounding clothing production.
THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BUYING CANADIAN-MADE
Between 2004 to 2015, the percent of clothing made in Canada decreased from 40% to less than 5%, when the Canadian government did not provide incentives for manufacturers to make their products in Canada, despite steep price competition from manufacturers overseas (Encircled). So, when a clothing line is made in Canada, it usually means that the founder of the line has either bootstrapped the company themselves or taken on external investors to help support the cost of made in Canada item.
DAUB was started out of a love of pattern & colour with no investment - out of pocket and from sweat and tears 10 years ago while our first pieces were made in the small batches that we still produce today. We often discuss and design our work with our sewers to meet a certain price point that’s fair and efficient for them to produce. It’s important that we work together to ensure mutual success. We have worked with the same sewers for almost 10 years and appreciate them on the daily.
Purchasing from a Canadian-made clothing line contributes directly to the Canadian economy and helps to support other brands that may emerge in the future to keep their manufacturing in Canada.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While it is fantastic that Canadian Creatives design their items in Canada, the certification that an item was made in Canada indicates a commitment to supporting the Canadian economy and Canadian enterprises. Designed in Canada does not mean ethically made or fair standards for employees. At Daub + Design, we are proud to design and manufacture our pieces in Canada.