Fashion Spectrum, Canada’s only inter-university academic competition that focusses on fashion, is underway. Fashion Spectrum welcomes students from four Montreal university management schools—McGill, Concordia, ESG UQÀM, and HEC Montréal—to work with local fashion companies. In creating these partnerships between business students and established industry professionals, Fashion Spectrum aims to provide crucial solutions to modern fashion industry problems with the help of young minds. Past editions have tackled human resource reforms and explored traditional modes of entrepreneurship; this year’s edition focusses on adapting to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Comprised entirely by students, the 2020-2021 executive team brought together students from the four core universities. Among them is Clarisse Dugelay, U3 Management, who is studying strategic management with a concentration in finance. This is Dugelay’s second year in the competition, and she is the only McGill student on the committee. She is currently serving as the Fashion Spectrum Vice-President of Communications. Dugelay jumped at the chance to be involved with Fashion Spectrum.
“This position in communications represented a unique opportunity for me to grow both personally, by working on a subject that interests me deeply in a unique case competition, and professionally,” Dugelay said.
One benefit of participating in Fashion Spectrum for business students such as Dugelay is the opportunity to synthesize vastly different interests while taking on a leadership position within the program. For Dugelay, this allowed her to hone her competitive side while engaging in the creative aspects of fashion merchandising. Over the course of the past two years, Fashion Spectrum has been an incredible experience for Dugelay, and the benefits have extended far beyond the competition.
“My favorite [part of] the event was the opportunity to meet students and established professionals that come from different backgrounds, yet share the same motivation, passion, and drive,” Dugelay said. “Today, thanks to my experience during [Fashion Spectrum], I am more confident during presentations [in class]. Being a native French speaker [at an English university] and having a lot of presentations to conduct in my business classes, this was really an important [experience] for me.”
Indeed, networking is a highlight for the 80 students selected to participate. For three months, they will collaborate with each other and will be supported by a mentor who is usually a professional, teacher, or consultant. In addition, they will work closely with some of the 20 local companies who are part of the program, which include La Vie en Rose, Mackage, Lolë, Birks, and Gorski. The wide variety of products that these companies develop and market give participants a breadth of creative freedoms, along with a large array of resources.
In January 2021, the participating students’ journeys will culminate by presenting their cases studies to a jury of panelists. Though the competition is friendly and everyone involved ultimately gains invaluable experiences, there still are winners. Prizes go to the individuals who were the most involved and showed growth over the course of the competition and the teams that worked well together to come up with the most innovative, ethical, and sustainable ideas.
The upcoming edition marks the third annual Fashion Spectrum competition, but its organizational structure has been revamped from its two preceding iterations. Rather than seeing the current COVID-19 pandemic as an obstacle, Fashion Spectrum has embraced it. In addition to ensuring that all social distancing measures are properly maintained, the competition developed the Fashion Forward online crisis program, which encourages participants to imagine possibilities for the fashion industry in a post-COVID-19 world. This adjustment demonstrates solidarity both among students, and between the university and fashion communities in difficult times. In essence, this collaboration is ultimately the core of the competition.