Students at Ryerson’s School of Fashion don’t think their program swag looks pretty in pink.
“When you see that pink fashion logo on a sweater, it’s kind of like another stereotype they just label us with,” said fourth-year fashion design student Stephanie Moscall-Varey.
For all of Ryerson’s official program swag, spirit-wear is the same: a navy sweater with yellow varsity text. For the fashion school, however, there’s an exception: their text also comes in pink. It’s a creative choice criticized by fashion students who call it a “missed opportunity” for young designers that “genders” the school.
In 2013, the school of fashion ranked no. 26 worldwide by Fashionista.com for its “solid design program.” The school also hosts Mass Exodus, the largest student-run fashion event in the world featuring garments and art by fourth- years. But members of the school argue their spirit-wear doesn’t reflect the program’s values, despite associate director of campus retail Kelly Abraham saying the design was chosen by students “some semesters back.”
Moscall-Varey — a designer at Abercrombie & Fitch and Mass Exodus — said she’s never bought the sweater and believes students should design their own merchandise.
“It’s discouraging,” Moscall-Varey said. “We have all these students that are so capable and are doing amazing things, but we don’t get that opportunity.”
Jenifer Forrest, a sessional instructor for the fashion school, also said not allowing fashion students to share ideas is a missed opportunity. She said singling out the program with pink is something faculty and staff oppose.
“We’re trying to move our program beyond being something that is feminized, and when it’s feminized, it’s therefore seen as something that isn’t serious,” said Forrest.
Second-year fashion design student Adrian Arnieri also said he feels unrepresented by the design because it genders his program.
“It tells everyone [ that the fashion school] is a female-dominant program, and it is, but there are still guys,” he said. “I feel like people look at you weird wearing a pink sweater that says fashion. People assume stereotypes.”
The price for campus store clothing has led student course unions to design and produce alternative sweaters for a price that meets student budgets. The journalism course union has been able to design and produce sweaters externally, then sell them at $25 a piece — half the cost charged at the campus store.
Ryerson Fashion Union co-presidents Millie Yates and Bronwyn Marshall wrote via email that they’ve never been approached about the fashion school’s merch, but they’re aware of “students out there that are unhappy with it.”
Abraham said the design stayed due to its “popularity,” but is willing to find a solution with fashion students in the future.
“If we have a group that wants to work with me, then sure. I love working with students,” he said.