For some Ryerson students, style is identity. Arts editor Gianluca Inglesi and Rebecca Burton discover why our students treat Gould Street like a runway and
Melissa McCulloch spends a minimum of $500 a month on clothing. The first-year hospitality and tourism management student’s wardrobe is worth much more than her tuition.
Second-year arts and contemporary studies student Reid Hubick, admits his wardrobe is worth, “unspeakable amounts. “ Hubick owns several pairs of True Religion jeans that retail for $500 a piece and a Canada Goose jacket that cost him $700.
“For me it’s worth it to spend hundreds on a pair of jeans. I definitely spend more on clothes than anything else,” Hubick said.
Students are camera-ready on any given day at Ryerson. Stereotypical college sweaters and track pants are scarce on campus. Instead, students can be found hustling to class decked out in the latest trend from military boots to circle scarves. No matter which faculty, they realize the importance of image and self-branding when it comes to being revered amongst their peers, professors and potential colleagues.
“With so many students at school everyday, people dress up because they want to be noticed,” McCulloch said.
The blue and gold of Ryerson’s crest are greatly ignored when it comes to wardrobe. Unlike the purple and white of the University of Western Ontario, or the red, blue, and gold of Queen’s University, Ryerson adopts the colour palette of the season.
“Colour is an important part of my style,” said Hubick who owns a custom tailored olive wool coat, yellow leather jacket and eggplant leather boots from overseas.
Commuter schools like Ryerson and York University are full of students who are up early perfecting their look before heading out the front door. Traditional schools that house most of their students on campus, like Carleton University and University of Guelph, tend to dress more laidback to take advantage of those extra minutes of shut eye.
“[Ryerson]’s not a hoodie and sweatpant university,” said Andrea Crofts, a second-year fashion communication student.
At Ryerson style seems to take prominence over comfort.
“It makes me feel dirty [to wear sweat pants or pjs],” Patricia Kowlaski said.
The fourth-year fashion design student won’t even walk to her local Sobey’s in sweat pants because it makes her feel self-conscious.
Instead Ryerson has it’s own ideals of what is basic and comfortable. Students opt for trendy clothes that aren’t restrictive. Some essentials for the Ryerson student — leggings, fitted jeans, flowy shirts, good boots and a blazer for that emergency look good situation.
Second-year journalism student April Buordolone doesn’t understand why students only look to sweatpants for comfort.
“There are other pants that are comfortable. I don’t know where people get the idea that they are going to be restricted if they wear something that’s nice.”
And for the right occasion students will risk discomfort to wear that perfect pair of shoes.
“I have blisters on my feet all the time but sacrifices need to be made,” said Luke Greidanus, a second-year fashion communication student.
Across the faculties at Ryerson styling seems to be part of the curriculum. From fashion to business, students are taking it upon themselves to stand out against their competition.
“Going to your classes you don’t know who you’re going to meet. Your profs could one day help you, so you don’t want to go to class looking like a slob,” said Buordolone.
However, the workload some students have takes a toll, and sharp clothing seems more fickle than necessary.
Nina Homami, a second-year biology student, said that in her program when people are studying for hours and running from lecture hall to lecture hall, clothing isn’t a big concern.
“It’s the tone of the program. People in science aren’t usually as into fashion as people in artistic programs or business. “
Crofts has a tendency to categorize people based on what they wear. She automatically assumes a laid back personality when she sees someone in flowy clothing.
“We like to say we don’t judge, but in reality we all do,” said Buordolone.
And when judging a passerbyer’s ensemble, you may wonder where they bought the different pieces. Being in the heart of Canada’s largest metropolitan city, Ryerson is just a short walk from some of the top retailers in the world.
“There are more fashion options around. Even when you just go to the mall to kill time or hang out you end up spending money,” said McCulloch, accounting for her massive monthly clothing bill.
Third-year fashion communication student Daniel Drak can be wary of his shopping habits when he buys things with large price tags that he may not have needed at the time.
“Sometimes you think ‘what did I do, that money was for rent and grocery bills.’ But I still like everything that I buy,” Drak said.
Frances Gunn, a retail management professor here at Ryerson says even though students are influenced by the towering billboards they see on their way to class, she is surprised that companies don’t do more to attract our students.
“They don’t target the student demographic as directly as you may expect. It’s astonishing to me that we have the largest group of business undergrads in a school that is attached to one of Canada’s major retail centres but no store makes any specific effort to reach out,” Gunn said.
In comparison to other schools, Gun believes our students have a knack for shopping.
“Our students know the retail cycle. They learn when things will go on sale and they know where to go to get good prices,” she said.
Cost is not always the issue for Brittany Devenyi, a second-year journalism student.
“It’s more about how you put [oufits] together than what they cost,” said Devenyi.
And that creative process is influenced by a student’s own personal sense of style.
Michael Raymond Clarke, a fourth-year photography student believes clothing is a reflection of his character.
“I dress for myself and like to mix it up. Clothing is really personal and as a photography student I understand how important self-image is,” said Clarke.
Hubick agrees when he calls his clothing an extension of self.
“It’s like a second skin. What you wear is how you present yourself to others.”
It’s the freedom to dress as an individual that is most attractive to students.
“It’s not obsession by any means but more a form of self-expression. Being a more artistically driven school we portray that moreso than other schools. Being here so many people are so open minded to fashion and art as a lifestyle,” said Crofts.
— With files from Tasha Zanin
Photo: Rebecca Burton