Courage’s fashion line raises the roof for homeless Canadian youth

Over the past 25 years, Raising the Roof (RTR) has been a national leader in homelessness prevention, raising more than $9 million through its campaign efforts. Continuing this trend, RTR recently approached newly founded Canadian creative agency Courage, with the hope of seeing new life in this important initiative.

“Canada’s homelessness situation has led to apathy in our communities. To inspire action with this campaign, we knew we needed to chart a different path that compels people to pay attention,” says Tom Kenny, Chief Strategy Officer at Courage. “Up to 7,000 children across Canada will be sleeping on the streets tonight, in In fact, through our research, we’ve discovered that 20% of the homeless population in Canada is made up of children, so to break perceptions and increase impact, we’ve chosen this as a focus for this year’s campaign “.

To combat Canadian apathy, the team sought to take a non-traditional approach to campaigning. Inspired by the fashion industry – where leading designers and runways have previously been inspired by the homeless – RTR has launched ‘Streestwear by RTR’. The five-piece concept collection features items with added street survival elements designed for young people experiencing homelessness.

“For years, the term ‘homeless chic’ has been used to describe fashion collections or an emerging trend, whether it’s trash bags that sell for thousands of dollars or high-end clothing held together with duct tape.” says Courage’s associate creative director. Hemal Dhanjee. “Ultimately, these trends are taking hold of a growing epidemic affecting millions of people.”

While the items aren’t purchasable, the collection aims to provoke a much-needed conversation about the very real and growing epidemic of youth homelessness. “The intention with this concept collection was to stir up outrage and drive awareness to create real change, because what is happening on our streets with the rise of homeless youth is not a trend; it’s a reality. adds Courage’s associate creative director Steve Ierullo.

Passionate about the cause, renowned Toronto designers Lauren Novak and Caitlin Wright have teamed up with RTR and Courage to bring this impactful collection to life. Lauren is the designer behind ‘Remark by Lauren’ and creates signature pieces with pre-existing materials, while Caitlin is a costume and wardrobe stylist who has worked with recording artists such as Drake, DJ Khaled and The Arkells as well as being the designer behind Kyshe, a brand specializing in limited edition items from vintage garments.

Included in the collection is:

  • ‘Pavement Parka’, a multifunctional winter coat that transforms into a full-size children’s sleeping bag.
  • “Cardboard Cargos,” which allows kids to stuff their pockets with cardboard so they can more easily enjoy lying on concrete and benches.
  • “Tent-o-Poncho”, a wearable, weatherproof shelter that can be attached to subway grates to create a heated tent.
  • “Kevlar Kicks”, which use carbon fiber and Kevlar material to protect children from broken glass and needles as they run through alleyways.
  • “Tap-Me Teddy” (made of ultra-strong material), which accepts intercepted card payments, so children can beg in a cashless society.

‘Streetswear by RTR’ made its public debut on Friday, Nov. 11 at Fashion Art Toronto, the city’s longest-running fashion week — and a period of time during which one in 100 young people will experience homelessness. In addition to this launch, the campaign includes a 60-second fashion commercial shot by director Justin Abernathy, represented by Undivided Creative. The campaign will also be live on social, digital video, donated OOH, plus a paid media microsite run by M&K, all with No Fixed Address handling public relations.

And while the clothing line may not exist, what it tries to do is get people to learn more about RTR, where they have the chance to buy a very real piece of clothing with the purchase of the iconic “Raising the Roof Touch”.

Set at $25, proceeds go to help end homelessness in Canada. “For more than 25 years, the ‘Raising the Roof Toque’ campaign has supported homelessness programs across Canada, raising more than $9 million in support of our 200 partner agencies,” said Marc Soberano, executive director of RTR . “Our goal is to ensure that all people in Canada have access to a safe and stable home and the support they need to reach their potential.”

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