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Fashion designer Stevie Thomas finds muse through VCC’s certificate program

Posted on February 3, 2022

Stevie Thomas with VCC green dress model

Originally published in The Georgia Straight

Several years ago, fashion designer Stevie Thomas took a non-credit course at Vancouver Community College (VCC).

Thomas had no idea that this would set them on a path to discovering what they wanted to do for the rest of their life.

“For me, it’s leaning into your spirit,” Thomas told the Straight in a recent phone interview. “If you don’t feel fulfilled every day, it makes life harder.”

Thomas knows this first-hand after a disappointing time in the post-secondary system prior to attending VCC. After graduating from high school with very good marks, Thomas bounced from program to program in university because they couldn’t find the right fit.

The experience left Thomas feeling like a number. But their world changed when they signed up for a fashion design course at VCC in the summer of 2013.

The thrill was immediate. By fall, Thomas was a student in the Fashion Design and Production certificate program.

Because they belong to the Snuneymuxw First Nation on Vancouver Island, the band agreed to pay Stevie’s tuition.

“For VCC, because of the way the course worked out, I could only do the part-time program,” Thomas revealed. But it worked well with Thomas’s life: they could work during the day, take classes in the evening, and work on patterns and design after, often into the early hours of the morning.

“It really helped to push me to my limits, physically,” Thomas recalled.

By the time graduation rolled around in 2015, Thomas had learned a long list of skills, including pattern drafting, couture sewing, industrial sewing techniques, and designing fashion for a collection.

The highlight came when Thomas presented their design at Vancouver Fashion Week, which was held in partnership with VCC.

“It was amazing,” Thomas said. “There were a lot of emotions for me just because we had been working so hard and for so long.”

Stevie Thomas in fashion dress fitting

Afterward, Thomas felt on such an emotional high that they walked down to a park on Main Street near where the event was held. They needed a moment to process everything that had occurred.

“I cried from emotional exhaustion and joy,” Thomas said.

Thomas credits VCC’s fashion program coordinator Sarah Murray, for continuing to be a great resource for alumni. The green dress featured in VCC’s recent Create the VCC Effect campaign – and on the cover of this week’s Georgia Straight – resulted from one of Murray’s design challenges.

“It’s been a fun way to stay involved, stay motivated, and stay driven, creatively,” Thomas said.

Thomas is going through the process of transitioning while being in the midst of launching a fashion brand. It’s called Stevie, like the name Thomas has chosen to use personally.

Continue reading in The Georgia Straight >

Ready to dive into a design career? Get your start with fashion programs and courses at VCC.