Toronto: Ethnic Diversity and Cultural Fashion

Toronto – a melting pot, artist’s paint palette, a ‘cosmopolitan’ ice cream tub. Whatever metaphor you associate this city with its multicultural make-up is decidedly up to you. That being said however, it can be definitively acknowledged that each of these ethnic demographics and the diaspora regions within Toronto’s vast greater area, in which they reside in, lays out the framework and foundation for this city’s cultural scene and make-up.

More than half of the population of Canadians in Toronto¬†identify as a visible minority – that figure being 51.5% according to the Canadian census. The majority of this number comes from the immense cosmopolitan diversity within the nation’s largest urban centre, and its greater area. 78% of the municipality of Markham identifies as a visible minority.

One particular aspect of the culture scene in Toronto that tends to get overlooked by the realm of influence as a result of this city’s ethnic diversity is in its fashion sect.

In an artistic age, where this city has been amidst a large cultural renaissance in all streams pertaining to the arts and the creator class, this decade has perhaps allowed for no greater freedom of cultural expression and appreciation than through its progressive fashion arena.

There is nothing cloak-and-dagger about the growing trends of “fast fashion” within the realms of the industry in urban locales; which is why the staple wears, such as the dashiki in many African ethnic groups, has been donned inside shops within places like Kensington Market, and outside the core in Scarborough and North York; fashionably worn by men in both casual and formal occasions.

The introduction of ethnic wears have found itself an ever-growing niche amongst Toronto young people in their cultural expressions, appreciations, and camaraderie for one another.

The subsequent acceptance and now embrace of Toronto’s cosmopolitan culture has grown exponentially, having found a place in the rising tide. The sari – native to South Asian ethnic groups as a piece of formal attire has become a “must-wear” and bucket list experience for many twenty and thirty something year old women who appreciate the vibrancy and complexity of the garment.

Socially, this has had huge impacts on the increasing emergence of interracial coupling and marriages – thus aiding in creating an even safer space for both the current and future generations to freely express themselves and their cultural roots as a part of the growing status quo.

The rising tide associated with freedom of expression in regards to other forms such as tattoo art and piercings amongst others have also felt the effects of ethnically fuelled injection into their respective domains.

Economically, the effects of cultural meshing has had significant impact on Canada’s largest retail market. Immigrants new to the nation flock to Toronto for its hopes of employment opportunities and quality of life. A demand has been created as a result of the facilitation of these ethnic interests to a broader audience.

Small business, for the time being, has seen a glimmer of hope in an ever-difficult retail space such as Toronto to establish shop for new immigrants. The direction of equity-based businesses is uprooted in question marks, as the increasing demand of ethnic fashion wears might lead to it being absorbed by larger clothing retailers.

Young people as consumers in some circles are particular to the sourcing and labour of the products that they get with their purchasing power, but the vast majority are more inclined to purchase based on affordability and accessibility – as seen through “fast fashion” retailers such as Zara and H&M.

Regardless, ethnic meshing and the abundance of diversity within the Toronto diaspora sphere has made significant strides in the way we look at our fashion sense, in tandem with our overall freedom of expression – and unlike “fast fashion” trends, it is timeless and here to stay.

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