After speaking with Mason, the original Fashion Santa, it's clear things aren't as simple as selfies, but he's hoping everything clears up soon.
"Two parties are claiming ownership and copyright of Fashion Santa, and being the creator of the character I have to stand my ground and force that I am the Fashion Santa," says Mason. "It was a pitch that went out to half a dozen retailers, and Yorkdale was the one that was more responsive than the others."
In 2015, he worked 88 hours at Yorkdale and took at least 600 photos and selfies with fans. Yorkdale is now promoting its new Fashion Santa, this time it's model Adam Martin, and until lawyers can get things straight, Mason says he can't use the Fashion Santa brand.
"A marketer or PR person can spin it the way the want, but people that know me and the fans that know me and relationships that I've nurtured for the past 30 years of my career know that I'm driven, professional," he says, addressing the rumours about why he was replaced. "You don't last this long in the business and stay relevant and ignore phone calls."
Mason grew his beard while he was mourning the death of his mother. It ended up looking great and that's where the Fashion Santa idea came from. He's now seen the joy the character brings and he's not letting it go quietly.
Though Mason can't do mall appearances with his character, he'll still be doing events around the city during the month of December. And while he can't reveal exactly where he'll be, he's got big plans and will keep everyone informed via his social media channels.
"The unfortunate part of this is it's blocked me from doing what I do best, which is to give and create and generate income for charity. Now I don't have a platform currently to raise money for anything," he says. "There are some things in the works, but I need to be in contact with my fan base... I want that tradition to keep going. This is my brand and my idea."
Photo of Paul Mason from the Yorkdale website.
by Phil Villeneuve via blogTO