Faculty Research & Creative Activities
Scholarly Research and Creative activities (SRC) are flourishing in the School of Fashion. The range of topics, approaches and mediums our faculty members employ demonstrates the interdisciplinarity of fashion. Below are sample research and creative projects conducted by our faculty members.
Refashioning Masculinity, external link. Dr. Barry’s current research project, funded by SSHRC, explores men’s fashion consumption in the digital age. Barry is examining the challenges men experience due to gender norms and the opportunities to use fashion to empower them to celebrate gender diversity. Drawing from his forthcoming book Refashioning Masculinity: Men and Fashion in the Digital Age (University of Chicago Press), Barry explores how fashion as an industry, a trend and an everyday social practice resists and transforms dominant ideas and ideals about masculinity. He questions whether current movements in men’s fashion are systemically or stylistically refashioning the gender order.
Interview with Heron Preston for the second issue of greatest magazine, external link. The interview touched on sustainability and the industry as a whole. Kozlowski described her experience as, “a breath of fresh air ... this guy is the future of fashion.”
atlasDress. The exhibition is an evolving installation that incorporates participants into the creative process. A number of contemporary artists have focused their creative practice in fashion and textiles (see Schofield, 1982; Sterbak, 2002 and 1997; Orta, 2016; Zits, 2018). The atlasDress was designed as a response to their work, it symbolically highlights the burden of carrying textiles and the responsibilities of the fashion industry on one’s back.
Many consumers purchase clothing with an awareness of garment value, origin, manufacturing conditions and environmental impact. This may be due to the distance between the manufacturer and the consumer, a distance that has grown exponentially since the industrial revolution (Martin & Hoftijzer, 2017).
At the atlasDress exhibit, visitors are invited to participate in the design of a dress by draping silk squares disposed around the model. Without being named, the concept of nostalgia would have its origins in Homer’s account, the Odyssey, where nostalgia serves as a form of vitamin to Ulysses to support himself, to stay well (Sedikikes, 2018). Starting from the premise that nostalgia is an emotion common to the human being, we can affirm that it joins the passions and from then on will be impregnated in everyone’s memory (Saint Augustine, trad. 1861, cited by Martin, 2016).
Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present. The book looks at how clothing harmed and continues to harm the health of its makers and wearers by spreading contagious diseases, leaching chemical toxins, and causing accidents like fires and entanglement. The project led to several outcomes: a book with Bloomsbury (2015), a four-year co-curated exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum (2014-18) and now a co-authored book for the 9-12 years old tweens called “Killer Style” with Owlkids Publishers.
Owlkids publishers contacted Dr. Matthews David to co-author Killer Style with Serah-Marie. Together, they adapted and added to Dr. Matthews David’s research for her adult book Fashion Victims (2015) to share it with a new generation. Dr. Matthews David hopes it will inspire tweens to really think about the history of what they have in their wardrobes and to make a positive impact on the way people and the planet are treated in the fashion industry in the future.
Ghosts, 2018 (4.00). ‘Ghosts’ is an experimental video that uses illustration and digitized 8mm film to explore concepts of queer childhood, Otherness, sexuality, time, loss, and death. The video fuses illustrations with personal childhood family footage to explore the relationship between past and future, innocence and sexuality, birth and death, linear time (normative) and repetition, humans and monsters, bodies and ghosts.
The video is based on the novel, The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, that many children in Canada read in school. The story resonated with Medaglia personally during his coming-of-age in an Italian, Roman Catholic environment.
The final video engages with an individual, embodied experience (8mm childhood film) and cultural expectations (The Chrysalids) to examine the relationships between subjectivity and cultural norms.
Ott’s research focuses on fashion systems, which are mechanisms for the production and consumption of clothing. While the prevailing contemporary fashion system is structured around mass production, its manufacturing techniques are increasingly coming under scrutiny as working conditions and environmental effects are considered exploitative and unsustainable.
In an ethnography of tailors and shoemakers, Ott investigates the notion of craftship to understand what embodied skills, materials, and tools inform contemporary practices of craftsmanship. This study provides a perspective on how the body and materials interrelate, how work is organized, and what factors influence the making of bespoke artefacts - in other words, how body and things engage in the making of a suit or a pair of shoes.
Early findings of this research project have been published in a book chapter: Ott, R. (2018). The cordwainer’s lair: Contingency in bespoke shoemaking. In E. Bell, G. Mangia, S. Taylor, & M.L. Toraldo (Eds), The Organization of Craft Work: Identities, Meanings, and Materiality (pp. 196–216). London, UK: Routledge.
Daemon & Saudade. This exhibition explores emotion, grief, loss and preservation through a series of photographic prints and sculptural garments paired to reveal both the beauty and pain of emotion. This exhibition took place at the Art Gallery of Northumberland, external link located in Cobourg, Ontario.
Neighbourhood Policing: Designing Uniforms That Work. A team of Fashion Faculty, led by Dr. Sandra Tullio-Pow, successfully won a contract to assess and propose recommendations for the uniform worn by the neighbourhood officers. This research was completed at the request of the Toronto Police Service in order to improve uniform fit, function, and public perception of its neighbourhood police bicycle unit. More information available on the research here: https://www.ryerson.ca/research/publications/newsletter/2019-03/intersection-3/
Crossing Gender Boundaries: Fashion to Create, Disrupt and Transcend (University of Chicago Press, 2020). Dr. Wahl contributed a chapter in the book that is a collaboration with Dr. Ben Barry. More information available on the upcoming book here: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/C/bo45803709.html, external link
Photo Credit: Cover art from Fashion Faculty, Mic. Carter
If you are interested in finding out more about the projects mentioned above or collaborating with faculty at the School of Fashion, please visit: