THE IMPACT FASHION HAS ON OUR LIVES (AND WHY I STOPPED WEARING KHAKIS)
I used to wear khakis every day. Not because of a high school uniform or anything like that, but because I genuinely woke up each morning, looked in the mirror and decided to put those mayo-coloured trousers on with my whole chest.
Growing up playing hockey in the rural parts of eastern Ontario, that’s what all the “real Canadian” boys wore. I was already enough of an outlier as a scrawny, often feminine, mixed-Asian kid in a league made up almost exclusively of white dudes.
I couldn’t afford to be any more of an identifiable target than I already inherently was.
So I put those khakis on. I laced up those boat shoes. I slicked my flow back under my baseball cap. I talked and walked just like they did. I blended in—mostly. My clothes helped me do that.
After a few more years of pretending, I came to Ryerson and met lots of wonderful and beautiful people who weren’t afraid to be—or look—like themselves. I started getting more creative with what I wore and how I presented myself to the world, picking out silk shirts and sporting red eyeshadow. I stopped hiding—and my clothes helped me do that.
In my time running the Arts & Culture section here at The Eyeopener, I’ve tried to bring an editorial focus to the fashion industry, culture and community we have here at Ryerson. But not because we have a rich and creative community in the heart of downtown Toronto, or because Ryerson consistently ranks among the top fashion schools in the world.
It’s because I’ve seen firsthand the power that clothes, appearances and aesthetics can have on our lives—good and bad.
As you flip through THE FASHION ISSUE, you’ll find stories from a variety of voices and perspectives, and how it intersects with issues of politics, race, class, reconciliation, gender, sexuality, harassment and much more. Because fashion, and more generally, the arts, have the capacity to make us feel and sincerely empathize with others’ experiences. We’ve created this idea in our heads that activism is deep, political and focused on tangible social change, whereas fashion is superficial, capitalistic or just-for-fun.
But fashion doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can fight for change and try to imagine a better world, and serve some looks while we do it. Policy and law may be what enact change, but it’s not what changes people’s minds.
Especially if you’re wearing khakis.
Arts & Culture Editor
The Fashion Issue is comprised of feature stories, Q&As with fashion journalists, designers and creators, photo essays, videos and so much more. More stories to be added throughout the week, look out for them here: