Wearable Art With a Message

Category: arts 407

Emerging New Brunswick fashion designer hopes her latest project will help bring some attention to the industry’s biggest challenges.    

Matt Carter
Illustration by sabinafenn.net

New Brunswick born fashion designer Dee Silkie plans to make a bold statement with her next project.  Bold and expensive. The Money Coat will be her first in a series of one-off creations that speak to the reality facing many emerging fashion designers in Canada.  

“Canadian designers are really struggling right now due to lack of financial support from the government,” said Silkie. 

As a fashion designer, Silkie says she finds herself unable to access a lot of potential grants and funding streams available to artists, and also believes most small business funding is going towards the tech industry. 

“Competition against fast-fashion brands is killing the industry,” said Silkie, who has manufactured products in both China and Canada. “Designers are trying to get their pricing lower and lower to compete with brands like Zara, H&M and Fashion Nova, to name a few. In order to reach a competitive price point, designers are ordering larger quantities to get better wholesale rates. If a designer does not have enough of the right customers in place first, or does not have an additional budget to market the clothing, then oftentimes the designer will not be able to sell out their inventory,” she said.

Dee is currently based in Toronto and says she still has boxes of product she purchased in 2017. 

Enter The Money Coat. 

Silkie’s Money Coat is designed as a piece of art that represents this reality. In short, it’s a coat with $1000 stitched into it. 

“The Money Coat is a conceptual piece of wearable art that tells a story,” said Silkie. “It is designed to raise awareness of the many challenges that new designers in the industry face which is, quite literally, having their money wrapped up in inventory. 

“I’ve been working in the industry for a few years now and have tried a lot of business models, everything from ecommerce to consignment shops,” she said. “I’ve manufactured overseas and I’ve manufactured locally in Canada. Between trying to figure out my business model, being creative and figuring out my aesthetic, I’ve run into a lot of obstacles and have tied up a lot of my own money into inventory.

“As designers struggle to divide their time between their craft, their business and maybe even a day job that is supporting them, designers often find themselves in situations where they are being pulled in many directions,” said Silkie. “By trying to please everyone just to make a buck, designers end up with no clear voice and no dedicated customer.”

Silkie explains the full concept behind The Money Coat in the video below.

A Kickstarter was launched on March 17. Learn more at deesilkie.com 


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