Why did you choose to pursue an MA in Fashion at Ryerson and what did you gain from completing the program?
My undergrad degree was in media studies and I always wanted to be a fashion writer so I thought the MA degree at Ryerson was a good fit. The program propelled me to think about fashion & dress on a more theoretical and complex level — I was opened up to the diverse points-of-view and insights of my classmates and professors who came from a broad spectrum of academic backgrounds from art history and women’s studies to apparel design and marketing. In the future I’m confident I will be able to take a more sophisticated and intellectual approach to fashion writing and have the skills to look at the industry from a critical distance (thanks to important research we debated surrounding gender politics, queer theory, sustainable design, etc.)
What are your research interests/areas?
I’m interested in how conceptions of gender, sexuality and masculinity influence the dress sensibilities and shopping habits of male consumers. For my MRP I completed qualitative interviews with a diverse spectrum of Generation Y men to uncover how they used clothing to express their gendered identities. I sought to reflect on shifts in the menswear industry and broader cultural landscape that have encouraged young males to participate in fashion and pursue an idiosyncratic personal style.
Where are you now and how has your degree aided you in your current position?
I continue to work as a research assistant with Dr. Ben Barry and am in the process of getting several academic articles co-authored with him. One of these papers looks at the rise of male body image issues and the other explores the subversive dress choices of queer individuals that transcend gender conventions. I also work in the fashion retail industry as an online copywriter for Harry Rosen. I get to write about Harry Rosen’s product and brand offerings and assistant with some more creative projects as well.
Who’s your favourite fashion theorist or practitioner and why?
I’m inspired by Shaun Cole’s work. He explores the role of dress within the formation and expression of queer identity — he takes a fascinating look at how gay men adopt clothing styles and have historically accepted and rejected hegemonic masculine ideals.
What interests you most about the discipline of Fashion Studies?
Fashion really does speak to the cultural zeitgeist and provides a compelling avenue to reflect on contemporary values and interests. Prevailing beauty and gender norms have a strong impact on our self-worth so it’s important to question and perhaps challenge unproductive hegemonic ideals.
What item in your wardrobe could you never part with and why?
My great grandfather’s engraved pocket watch has sentimental value.
Who’s your favourite fashion designer and why?
I love Yohji Yamamoto’s work. He presents an inimitable and challenging aesthetic on the Parisian catwalks — communicating a unique idea of beauty. He experiments with movement and layering and unusual proportions in an artful way I really admire.
What course did you most enjoy and why?
I enjoyed the studio workshops as they pushed me to creatively explore fashion theory and step outside my comfort zone. As somebody who feels most at home writing and completing research projects, it was exciting to work with my hands and experiment with mediums like film and photography to create art that reflected my interests in fashion and gender studies.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d pass on to a student interested in applying to the program?
Hone in on your specific research passions and career aspirations. Before taking Ryerson’s MA program I was unaware of how multifaceted fashion academia can be. There are a diverse range of subject matters and accompanying professors to assist you. Whether you are interested fashion more in practice or theory, the clearer your goals, the better you can utilize your classes and MRP to achieve those objectives (and take advantage of the school’s rich set of resources and knowledgeable teaching staff.)
Where do you see yourself in 5 years and/or what’s your dream job?
I hope to continue to work in fashion as both a scholar and industry professional. I’m currently considering a PhD and would love to one day write a book on menswear and conceptions of male beauty. I also enjoy working at a men’s retailer and could see myself continue to write and report on men’s style and fashion trends.