Fashion is one of those glamorous occupations that perhaps every young creative girl or boy has dreamt of becoming, but most don't realize that there's a lot of hard work behind the scenes. As a result, not all talented design graduates will end up working at the stellar fashion houses of Chanel or Lanvin, have their Fall range debut on runways of New York Fashion Week, or pass the discerning scrutiny of Anna Wintour and make it onto the pages of Vogue.
The apparel industry is a beautiful playground for those with a flair for fashion, and many opportunities are waiting to be snatched up. For example, did you know that Jason Wu was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Canada when he was nine? Other great fashion designers of immigrant descent include Alfred Sung (China), Dan Liu (Hong Kong), Joe Mimran (Morocco), and the list goes on. So the opportunity is boundless if you decide to move to Canada to study design or relocate as a qualified, experienced designer.
The average fashion designer salary ranges between 33,150 CAD and 80,000 CAD, depending on your experience level and qualifications. That means more extra cash to spend on travel, a down payment on a trendy loft in downtown Vancouver or that pair of Jimmy Choos you've been eyeing.
But where do you start moving to Canada in the fashion sector? If you've ever tried to find that magic thread to pull that allows you to unpick a seam and unravel a garment, think of this blog as that thread. We can help you unravel the Canadian immigration system in these simple steps.
Top Immigration Programs for Fashion Designers in Canada
As a Canadian fashion designer, you are classified as a highly-skilled worker, which means you have your pick of the top Canadian immigration programs. All professions are classified according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. Each profession is given its own Canada NOC code. As a fashion designer in Canada, your Canada NOC code is 53123. This includes other fashion industry sectors, such as fashion styling. Visual merchandising, footwear designers, fabric designers, and costume designers, to name a few. You'll need your Canada NOC code when you complete your application.
The Express Entry system is one of the most popular ways to immigrate to Canada. It takes as little as six months to process your application, and you only have to create one profile, after which you will be entered into draws every two weeks for up to a year. It also allows you to improve your chances by improving your CRS score and increasing your chances of success, even after creating your profile. As a fashion designer, you may be eligible for the following Express Entry programs:
The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
The Federal Skilled Worker Program is for skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently and has minimum requirements for skilled work experience, language ability, and education.
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
The Canadian Experience Class provides international students and foreign workers with Canadian experience with the opportunity to obtain permanent residence. Candidates must have obtained at least one year of skilled, professional, or technical work experience in Canada within three years of the application date and meet language proficiency criteria.
One of the best ways to ensure you're eligible for one of these programs is to determine your CRS score and compare it to the required CRS score. A great way to determine your score is via a CRS calculator.
Provincial Nominee Program
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is another excellent option, as most PNPs allow skilled workers to immigrate to Canada if they have a valid job offer. Although PNP applications generally take much longer to process, most have Express Entry-linked programs, meaning a province can select your profile if you meet labor demands and give your provincial nomination (PN). This is probably one of the most coveted things to have when applying to move to Canada because a PN is worth 600 CRS points, which means that you're pretty much a "shoo-in" to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
If you cannot fulfill the eligibility requirements for the Express Entry System or a PNP, one of the best ways to get your start in Canada is via a work permit. Here's a breakdown of how to qualify and apply for a Canadian work permit.
While the Canadian immigration process may seem relatively straightforward, ensuring all of your criteria are fulfilled and that you follow all of the application process steps is vital. Suppose you want to ensure you start your process as best as possible. In that case, you can massively benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a certified immigration expert like a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant. (RCIC)
Finding the perfect place to position yourself is vital. This is not only to ensure that the city you immigrate to in Canada is the right fit but will also give you the best opportunity to find a job in Canada and the best chances of success in your visa application. Here are our top 3 choices for you to consider.
Top Canadian Cities to Immigrate to as a Fashion Designer in Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver is one of Canada's most fashionable cities, home to a diverse range of people worldwide. So if you fancy having a chance to land jobs in fashion design for brands like Lululemon or Aritzia, this is where you need to be, as this is where their head offices are based. Life in Vancouver can be pretty pricey, depending on your lifestyle, but the salary will make up for the cost of living. Canada's Job Bank says you can earn between 49,000 CAD and 91,000 CAD annually!
Montreal is Canada's "Parisian" fashion capital, synonymous with design, fashion, and the arts. If you want a taste of French culture, from high-end fashion boutiques to stopping for a flaky, buttery croissant, you'll fall in love with this European-style city. However, it is not as simple to apply to immigrate to Quebec, Canada, as in other provinces because the Quebec immigration system is separate from the general federal programs. Depending on where you are situated, Canada's Job Bank states you can expect to earn anywhere from approximately 42,000 CAD to 70,300 CAD per year.
Toronto is Canada's most prominent fashion base and is similar to New York in aesthetics and feel. Yorkville and Queen West are two of the most fashion-forward areas to settle down in Toronto, but the city is constantly developing. As a result, you find brands like Laura Siegel and Project Runway Canada winner Sonny Fong's brand VAWK located in the heart of bustling Toronto. The Canadian Job Bank says you could earn around 35,100 CAD as an annual starting salary but can graduate up to 89,500 CAD annually as you progress.
Fashion Schools In Canada
Of course, most fashionistas dream of moving to a fashion capital like Paris, New York, or Milan to study fashion, but did you know that you can find some of the top fashion schools in Canada, one of which has made the top 30 list globally? Let's look at some of the best fashion schools in Canada that could set you up to start your career as a Canadian fashion designer.
Ontario is undoubtedly The best place to study fashion in Canada. Well, because the #1 fashion school is there, of course! George Brown College is ranked the best fashion school in Canada and the top 50 globally! It's even made the Business of Fashion (BOF's) list for top undergraduate fashion design and communication programs. Quite a trendy set of accolades to have, eh? Another great option is The Ryerson University of Fashion, ranked #2 in Canada, which offers excellent courses in fashion and jewelry design, business, and management.
Catherine Addai is a phenomenal immigrant success story which turned her dreams into reality, launching her label Kaela Kay, inspired by her Ghanaian heritage. She has won several Canadian and international awards since her flagship launch in April 2019.
La Salle College is Canada's most significant fashion school and one of the top places to study fashion in Canada. It is ranked #3 on Canada's list of top fashion colleges, and over 40% of its students are from countries worldwide. It's an international school of fashion, arts, and design. They have many programs, including fashion design, footwear and accessories, costume for cinema, fashion styling, fashion marketing, and technical clothing design. They also offer student trips to fashion capitals like New York, Paris, and London.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Like the sound of La Salle College, but are you more interested in New York than Parisian style flair? Well, why not try the Vancouver campus? It has the same fantastic programs as the Montreal campus, except for the technical clothing design, cinema, footwear, and accessory programs. In addition, you can enjoy small classes held by experienced faculty who pride themselves on educating and inspiring their students.
Are Fashion Designers in Demand in Canada?
Yes, many companies in Canada are looking for fashion designers, so the job is considered in demand. According to the Job Bank of Canada, labor demand and supply for fashion designers are expected to be broadly in line over the 2022-2031 period at the national level. Find out how you can take advantage of this by learning how to apply for jobs in fashion design in Canada.
Do I Need a Study Permit to Go to One of the Fashion Schools in Canada?
Yes, international students who want to study at any fashion school in Canada need to obtain a valid study permit and have permission from Citizenship and Immigration Canada to reside in Canada. Learn how to get a Canadian Study permit.
Design Your Future in Canada
And there you have it! You now know where the best fashion schools in Canada are, where the best places to get fashion designer jobs in Canada are, and what a fashion designer salary in Canada may look like. However, your journey is only starting.
Ready to take the next step in making your Canadian dream a reality? We'll help you draft a tailored immigration strategy that will fit you to the T!