Fashion

Fashion Santa: The Santa Claus of Today and Tomorrow

It has been six years since Paul Mason made his first appearance as Fashion Santa at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. On that day, he transformed the character of Santa Claus into a “dandy, very chic gentleman” that went on to steal the hearts of people all around the world. Paul Mason had no idea what this alter ego of his would one day grow into. 

Paul began modeling in his early 20s. He was scouted while studying social work at Toronto’s Ryerson University, and within weeks he was strutting the catwalks of Tokyo. After a brief stint modeling in Paris, he relocated to New York to pursue career opportunities. Over the next two decades, Paul landed coveted campaigns with DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, and Macy’s. He even appeared on the cover of Australian Vogue.

Everything came to a halt for Paul in 2008 when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He returned to Canada to take care of her and contemplated retiring from modeling altogether. When his mother passed away in 2013, Paul fell into a depression for six months and came out of it with a long white beard. While trying to get back on his feet, the Fashion Santa persona was created. 

In 2015, Paul pitched his Fashion Santa ad campaign idea to multiple different retailers around the Toronto area until it was picked up by the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. The Fashion Santa Ad Campaign was where Fashion Santa would take pictures with different guests at the Yorkdale Mall, and each image raised money for charity. The campaign was a runaway success, and Fashion Santa quickly became a viral sensation. Even Justin Bieber went to Yorkdale Mall to take pictures with Fashion Santa! 

“My first reaction to going viral …..I couldn’t believe it! It was like a domino effect,” Paul explains. “Every publication and news outlet globally featured the story! It was amazing! This little idea got so much attention!”

Over a brief period of time, Paul Mason was referred to as Fashion Santa worldwide. Paul saw this as the opportunity he needed to start making a difference on a larger scale. “The mission of Fashion Santa has always been to bring awareness to a cause, charity, or initiative,” he shared. “The bottom line is to make a difference.” 

The two years following his start as Fashion Santa, Paul had to fight legal battles to ensure that he was given exclusive rights to the Fashion Santa name. Once he received the rights to the title, he was unstoppable. 

In 2019, Fashion Santa landed a spread in GQ and scored campaigns with Hyundai, Indochino, and Walter Craft Cesar. Fashion Santa’s growing success in 2019 led to one of his proudest achievements yet: “To close the last Jean Paul Gaultier couture show [spring 2020 in Paris] was a highlight of my career! It was an amazing celebration of a Fashion Icon. It was an honor!”

Paul Mason has created a niche for himself within the modeling community that is helping him raise money for great causes while also fighting Ageism in the fashion world. In an industry where the median age group is 16-21, Paul has to face his fair share of criticism for still modeling at 55 years old.

“Ageism may play a role on the runway! To me, I don’t have an age issue. I do my own thing and always did! I certainly have pushed it but it’s the only way I know. I’m eternally childish at heart. I think the world needs to rethink the ageing process.”

Fashion Santa, much like Santa Claus himself, would simply like to spread joy and cheer far and wide. “The impact I want to make as Fashion Santa is to change us back to having a bit of wonderment and a bit of joy and to believe in something. Too much time is spent on all the stresses of the season. I want to inspire joy and laughter. I see it when I meet people. It makes me happy!” 

Paul shares that the biggest lesson he learned as Fashion Santa is that everyone has a story. “I believe everyone should have an opportunity to tell their story. To listen with kindness goes a long way! I also have learned to get a smile from people; it helps me continue this crazy ride I’m on!”

G Gulati

An Author, Personal Branding & Brand Engagement Expert, G Gulati's purpose in life is to help you discover your first-mover advantage. With more than 18 years of experience, he has helped countless people build a head-turning brand. Gulati is the author of five books, including "I'm A Brand" and he is on a mission to write and interview the world's most elusive, fascinating and trending personalities.

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