Fashion’s Big Break: Suzanne Rogers Donates 1 Million

Mid-October, Ryerson’s School of Fashion announced the launch of the Suzanne Rogers Fashion Institute (SRFI) with a $1 million donation from the fashion fairy godmother herself. This five-year fellowship program is for third and fourth-year fashion design students, as well as recent alumni.

The program will include master classes led by fashion experts, exclusive mentorship by the school’s Designer-in-Residence and funding to support active participation in competitions.

Fellows will be eligible for undergraduate student awards, paid work placements or internships, graduate student awards and funding to support active participation in international fashion weeks

Rogers is no stranger to the world of fashion, especially here in Toronto. She supports Canadian designers already through her awards for “Most Promising Label” at the Toronto Fashion Incubator and the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards. She believes that her financial contribution will bridge the gap between fashion education and practice to give Canadian designers the opportunities they need to become successful in the industry.

That said, this program is for students, so what exactly are their thoughts about the addition to the Ryerson community?

Outside of the fashion school, first-year retail management student Esha says the program is a great idea.

“I think it will give very passionate students fantastic opportunities,” she says.

Keisha, also a first-year retail management student, believes that the five-year program is fantastic for students who want to start their own clothing line.

“Students can put their great ideas into action so they can actually get noticed and be successful,” she says. “This program can provide the resources that students need to create a successful Canadian brand. It also creates a sense of job security after they graduate and can create new opportunities.”

Some students in the School of Fashion, such as fourth-year design student Alexandria Guo, are in agreement.

“I definitely think the reputation of the School of Fashion will be advanced because of the name that will be affiliated with the school,” she says. “Suzanne Rogers is a well-known person in the industry. She contributes to TFI and CAFA and her name will enhance the positive reputation of Ryerson’s School of Fashion.”

But Guo still harbours some skepticism about its implementation.

“My concern is that they spent two years thinking of a concept, and now I wonder when the program will actually be implemented,” she explains. “Current fourth-year students will also want to access the funds made available by the time they graduate. They should open it up to all grads from the fashion design program or it will be disappointing that they never get the chance to utilize the opportunity.”

Ryerson is known for creating unique opportunities for students so that they will be successful and find jobs when they graduate, such as the ten different zones that are part of Zone Learning.

For now, it’s a waiting game until applications open in February 2017 and six students are selected to be fellows. Only then will it be known if this addition to the university will continue to enhance Ryerson’s innovative reputation.