R. Howard Webster Foundation and GBC Fashion Exchange Spotlight Newcomer Hidden Talent

The R. Howard Webster Foundation pledged a significant contribution to George Brown College’s Fashion Exchange towards the three‐year rollout of the Hidden Talents project. This project is designed to connect needlework and other textile hand‐skills of the newcomer community with Toronto’s vibrant fashion industry.

Many newcomers possess a wealth of textile hand‐skills, arriving in Canada with significant experience in embellishing clothing and decorating items. Many of these specialized hand‐skills are often overlooked and consequently not developed and preserved. There is a shortage of specialized artisans, trained in textile hand‐skills in Toronto’s fashion industry and through the generous donation of the R. Howard Webster Foundation, George Brown College’s Fashion Exchange will discover talented newcomers to provide opportunities to leverage their skills for employment in the fashion industry. In addition, preservation of cultural handcrafts through workshops will enable shared learning, building community and appreciation for these hidden skills.

As part of its mandate, the Hidden Talents project will develop an online portal to showcase artisans’ work, host an exhibition and publish a catalogue, featuring the works of the program’s participants. These initiatives are intended to connect fashion designers directly to artisans for employment.

Howard Davidson, President of the R. Howard Webster Foundation said of the project, “The R. Howard Webster Foundation is pleased to support George Brown College’s Fashion Exchange as it is clear to us that its Hidden Talents project is destined to make a positive impact at the individual, educational and community levels.”

President of George Brown College, Anne Sado remarked, “As an institution as interested in community development as we are in education, George Brown College’s Hidden Talents project is the natural extension of the great work being carried out by the Fashion Exchange. The College is especially pleased to have exceptional relationships with generous donors like the R. Howard Webster Foundation that share our values.”

Mitchell Cohen, President of The Daniels Corporation, stated, “We are thrilled to have George Brown’s Fashion Exchange embedded in the Regent Park Revitalization. New initiatives such as the Hidden Talents project will bring significant additional benefit to the local community and nurture inclusive local economic development. This exciting initiative addresses the needs of both the artisan and the fashion industry and promises truly exciting outcomes for residents of Regent Park and across the city.”

Marilyn McNeil‐Morin, Director, Fashion Exchange, said, “The project has been designed with the specific intent to bring “hidden talents” into view ensuring that artisan and industry are able to benefit from each other. In addition, to be sustainable, fashion must last and be loved for longer. Clothing that includes elements of handwork has higher value in uniqueness and quality that become favourite pieces to wear and retain.” With the donation of the R. Howard Webster Foundation and the work of the George Brown College Foundation in bringing us together, the FX is now ready to integrate traditional textile hand‐skills with locally produced and designed apparel.

Hidden Talents – Examples of Textile Hand-Skills