Fonds RG 216 - School of Fashion

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School of Fashion

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  • Multiple media

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RG 216

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  • 1912 - ? (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

1.57 m of textual records
103 photographic items ; prints, slides : b&w, col. ; 4x6 cm - 23x35 cm
629 photographic negatives : b&w, col. ; 35 mm
162 posters ; 21 x 40 cm - 59 x 73 cm
3 videocassettes : VHS ; duration unknown
8 DVDs ; duration unknown
2 data CDs

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A Fashion Program has existed in one form or another since Ryerson's beginning in 1948. It is difficult to determine the Program's exact name and organizational structure during the University/Institute's very first academic year, as evidenced by the two types of course calendars in the Archives Collection. One type of calendar, for the "School of Costume Design", offered two diplomas: a Diploma in Junior Designing (after two years) and a Diploma in Costume Design (after three years). The second type of calendar, for the "School of Fashion Crafts", includes two booklets: one for "Women's Tailoring" and one for the "Costume Design Division". The "Courses of Study" booklet in the 1948-1949 calendar series also mentions two nine-month trade-related extension courses in "Men's Tailoring" and Women's Tailoring". It appears, therefore, that the main Fashion course was "Costume Design". The "School of Fashion Crafts" calendar booklet in "Women's Tailoring" refers to this course as a nine-month course. The Archives is propably missing a third calendar booklet, in "Men's Tailoring". Sarah W. Murdoch was the School's first director. From 1951-1952 to 1957-1958, the "School of Fashion" offered three courses: a three-year course in Fashion Co-ordination; a two-year course in Dress Techniques; and a series of courses for teachers (source: Calendar). A clipping in the Fashion Documentation File reports that the name "Costume Design" changed to "Fashion Co-ordination" in 1951 (1Feb51). From 1958-1959 to 1970, the Fashion Program was administered as an option of Home Economics (source: Calendar). From 1970-1971 to 1984-1985, the Fashion Program was administered by the Fashion Department (source: Calendar). The 1982-1983 Course Calendar shows that several revisions were made to courses and options. In 1985-1986, the School of Fashion offered a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Fashion. It has not been determined when the Fashion Department changed its name to the School of Fashion although it is possible the change occurred when the Program received degree-granting status.

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Towards the end of World War II, the Training and Re-Establishment Institute, Toronto (T.R.I.T.) was established in the existing Toronto Normal School buildings to provide rehabilitation training to the men and women who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Fashion was one of the sixty programs offered at T.R.I.T. Sarah W. Murdoch, who had planned the original Fashion course, received permission from Dr. Howard H. Kerr to revise the program for the Fall of 1948 and the new Ryerson Institute of Technology. A two-year Diploma course in Costume Design, which included two four-week job training periods, produced the first graduating class in June 1950.
From 1950-1960, the program went through a number of changes, the biggest being in 1958 when Fashion came under the umbrella of "Women's programs," which also consisted of Home Economics and Pre-School Education. All courses and content had to meet the requirements of the Home Economics Division of the Department of Education. The program had originally been set up to include male and female students, but its new emphasis on Home Economics discouraged many men from applying.
The Fashion program remained under Home Economics until 1970, when the Home Economics Department was removed from the Division of Applied Arts. The Fashion Department objected to this move and was subsequently granted permission to remain in the Applied Arts Division. As a result, a brand new three-year program was developed for students for the Fall of 1970, with two specialization options: Design and Merchandising. The program became so popular that enrollment was limited by 1972.
In 1973 Jen Nemeth, Department Chairman, implemented changes to validate the program as a four-year undergraduate degree, an undertaking supported by Nemeth's successor, Bill Vine. The Fashion Department put forth a proposal for the degree program to Ryerson’s Standards Committee in March 1981 and then to Academic Council that October, with the intention that first-year applicants to the degree program would start in September 1982. However, due to the Ministry of College and University's freeze on all new undergraduate programs, the proposal was deferred. The program finally received its degree status in March 1985, making it the first (and, for many years, only) fashion undergraduate degree program in Canada. The first Bachelor of Applied Arts degree class graduated in 1986, which consisted of third-year diploma students who had chosen to remain for a fourth year.
A few program adjustments occurred over the next 30 years, including changes in requirements, option names, and discipline names. In addition, the School of Fashion moved to the Faculty of Communication & Design (FCAD). Starting in 2004, Fashion shifted from granting Applied Arts degrees to Bachelor of Design degrees (in Fashion Design or Fashion Communication), retroactive to 2003.
In Fall 2010, Ryerson introduced an innovative two-year program leading to a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Fashion. This program is the first of its kind offered in Canada. A minor in Fashion Studies was made available the following year to students not enrolled in the Fashion program.

Information acquired from:
"History of Fashion Program" in "The Department of Design and Merchandising Degree Proposal" (1982) (Last accessed February 2015) (Last accessed February 2015) (Last accessed February 2015)
LinkedIn profile (Last accessed February 2015)
clippings file

Record group contains records by the School of Fashion as of 1950 that relate to fashion shows, meeting minutes and reports, degree proposals and other academic material, promotional material, documentation on special events and projects, and photographs. Includes textual records; black-and-white and colour photographic prints, slides, and negatives; posters; VHS videocassettes; DVDs; and data CDs.

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Partially Restricted. Some or all of the records may be subject to restrictions. Requests for access must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections staff for review.

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