“We have been blessed over the years with the presence of some of Canada’s finest fashionistas,” says Jennifer Frees, president of Western’s Style Society. “From Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, style is renowned at our school for being a bit homogenous, but it’s due to the fact that international trends run rampant throughout Western’s social circles.”
Western’s reputation comes as no surprise to its students. On any typical day, hoards of bodies strut down UC Hill resembling the catwalks of Fashion Week. And what are the signature pieces that make up the typical Mustang wardrobe?
It begins and ends with the UGG. Adorning the feet of thousands of students, the infamous Australian boot company has maintained popularity since its debut on the fashion scene in 2001.
“I can guarantee that Western had a higher concentration of UGG boots (faux or not) than any other campus in Canada,” Frees continues. However, the lovable boots’ life expectancy may be shorter than Westerners would like to believe.
“If UWO girls are truly at the forefront of trend-watching, as they would like to claim, they will be trading those in for some moon boots, which first graced the runways in winter 2004 in the Dior, Pucci and Jacob collections,” Frees says.
To the naked eye, Western may appear to have an unofficial uniform. However, while some students refuse to conform to standard styles, steering clear of the “norm” of UGGs is itself a Western trend.
“I’m not a huge fan of typical Western style,” says Samantha Trelle, a student fashion designer and participant in Western’s Infusion fashion show. “I feel it doesn’t offer anything particularly striking, as most of the major looks are actually super plain, boring . . . just expensive.”
While the winter season brings an end to the “boho chic” summer look, the trend of combining vintage and contemporary pieces is here to stay.
“There is a large number of progressively minded and creative individuals at this institution, who, although possessing a serious pair of Louboutins here and there, are also able to scavenge the local Goodwill for a gorgeous vintage Pucci scarf or Cavalli belt,” Trelle says. “It’s not all about labels.”
The trend of mixing the old with the new can be partially attributed to celebrity style gurus who tend to influence campus fashion.
“My style icon is Gwen Stefani,” says Amy Klenert, a fourth-year women’s studies student. “She is so different and can get away with anything. Most of the time everyone on campus looks the same so I try and stay away from those kinds of trends.”
As much as some students despise Western trends, it’s hard not to fall prey to at least one element of the uniform.
“The one trend I adore that Western girls really know how to rock is the oversized sunglasses,” Trelle says. “Whether it’s Gucci, Prada, Channel or Fendi, the notion that it makes a girl look like a bug has clearly been squashed — everyone who is anyone on this campus needs a pair.”
Aside from being trendy, they’re practical. Next to a couple of Advils they’re just what the doctor ordered to mask pesky, dark circles from a hard night of drinking.
“I like the big sunglasses,” Klenert continues. “If for nothing else, they hide you.”
Love ’em or hate ’em, one thing is certain: because of its fashion conscious student body, whether you’re lulu toting or Value Village scavenging, Western embraces fashion diversity. Where else are students supposed to get their fashion education? Waterloo?