The man who came to be known as ‘Fashion Santa’ – and became a viral sensation – in 2015 has been replaced by the mall that made him famous.
Last year, Paul Mason became a worldwide star after working at Toronto’s Yorkdale mall as the sort of St. Nick that set hearts racing. The fit 53-year-old strolled about the mall in designer duds and posed for glamorous photos, swiftly gaining a huge online following.
But this year, when the mall unveiled their 2016 campaign, fans were shocked to see a totally new Fashion Santa strutting his stuff.
Trouble up north: Paul Mason, better known as Fashion Santa, has been replaced in this year’s holiday campaign by Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall
New man in town: The brand replaced 53-year-old Paul with model Adam Martin (pictured) after, they claim, Paul didn’t respond to their attempts to contact him
According to a spokesperson from the mall, they were open to bringing Paul back on for this year, but he didn’t return their calls.
So, with the original Fashion Santa MIA, they moved onto a new model for dashing Father Christmas, a man named Adam Martin.
However, Paul was left furious, insisting that the Fashion Santa character is his creation, and is therefore irreplaceable.
‘I’m standing by my brand and the rights of ownership and the intellectual property of a character I created, so I’m standing my ground,’ he told the Toronto Star. ‘There’s no way in hell I would have given up ownership.’
Battle of the beards: Paul (left) was left furious by the move to hire Adam (right), disputing their claim he ignored their calls and declaring Fashion Santa to be a character he created
Breaking out: Paul gained worldwide fame for his work as the designer clothing-decked Father Christmas in 2015
Putting in the work: The model and the mall eventually butted heads over the copyright and trademark of the moniker, with both filing for ownership
Paul also disputed the claim that the mall had reached out to him about reprising the role, saying: ‘I didn’t stay relevant (by) not taking calls and nurturing good relationships.’
Rather, he claims that he split with the mall over certain ‘conditions’, one of which is the ownership of the Fashion Santa name.
Both Paul and the Yorkdale Mall have filed to copyright and trademark the moniker, which have yet to be approved by the government.
Paul claims – and the mall acknowledges – that he came to them originally with the Fashion Santa idea, but Yorkdale claim that it was simply a happy coincidence that they were already looking into a similar idea for the campaign at the time.
Not fooled: Once the new campaign images cam out, the brand faced a major backlash on social media, with users clamoring for ‘the real Fashion Santa’
Taking a hit: Some users even said they would boycott the mall over the holidays for their snubbing of Paul
Not down and out: Paul has taken to Twitter to reveal that he ‘will be announcing something very soon’
While a legal battle may be brewing between the two parties, the mall have confidently gone ahead with the new campaign. However, the change did not go unnoticed.
The new images have sparked a social media backlash from angry fans of the original Fashion Santa, with several declaring: ‘This is not the real Fashion Santa!’
‘Hell Naw! We want Paul. I’ve decided not to do any of my Christmas shopping at Yorkdale this year because of this BS,’ wrote one furious former-customer.
Another added: ‘He proposes the idea and then you replace him??? Embarrassing move on Yorkdale’s part, corporate bullying indeed.’
However, fans are not being left in the lurch just yet, as Paul recently teased on Twitter that he has something up his sleeve.
‘Hi everyone. The RealFashionSanta is still here,’ he wrote on Tuesday. ‘I will be announcing something very soon. Happy shopping.’