Winner secretly crowned in cancelled shoe contest

Sarah Chang's Sam Edelman contest submission.

Sarah Chang’s Sam Edelman contest submission.

A secret winner. A cancelled appearance by an acclaimed shoe designer. And a group of disappointed students.

These are the elements that capped off three weeks of anticipation for students who entered a design contest, but who walked away with questions unanswered.

Fashion students were excited for a chance to win a two-day trip to New York City and visit to the offices and showroom of acclaimed designer Sam Edelman. But the contest, and an on-campus visit by Edelman scheduled for last Wednesday, were cancelled the morning that the winner was to be announced.

A mass email was sent out by the school of fashion last week saying that the cancellation was due to “unforeseen circumstances.” At the same time, citing scheduling conflicts for the cancellation, Edelman’s team sent an email to all entrants inviting them to meet Edelman at a public meet-and-greet at the Bay’s Queen Street store the next day.

But while most of the entrants received a generic invitation, fourth-year fashion communication student Mary Young received a personalized message stating that Sam Edelman would love to meet her.

Young said she didn’t realize her email was different until she showed up at the meet-and-greet Thursday night and talked with a group of girls who had also applied. After her one-on-one session with Edelman, it was confirmed that she had been selected as the winner.

“I was really surprised … I thought the email was more or less a courtesy,” she said. “I still feel like it’s all kind of a dream.”

“I don’t understand why they cancelled the contest but crowned the winner anyway. What about the other girls who didn’t know that Mary was the winner? They deserve to know that there was a winner.”

However, she said, “The communication between (school of fashion chair) Robert Ott and Sam Edelman could have been clearer. Somebody should have said that the lecture was cancelled but the contest is still on.”

Fourth-year fashion communication student Sarah Chang also entered the contest, and though she doesn’t begrudge Young her win, she says the whole handling of the contest was “weird.”

“I don’t understand why they cancelled the contest but crowned the winner anyway,” she said. “What about the other girls who didn’t know that Mary was the winner? They deserve to know that there was a winner.”

Rebecca Nixon, a representative of Edelman’s team, said the seemingly secretive nature of the selection was due to the fact that the original lecture in which the winner was to be announced had been cancelled.

“It was about finding an adequate platform to announce the winner,” she said. “The Sam Edelman team would like to honour the contest.”

Chair of the school of fashion Robert Ott said in an email that he only found out about the winner Sunday. “The school is very appreciative of Mr. Edelman and his team for providing such a great experience,” he said in an email.

Edelman’s team also confirmed that all students who submitted entries before the deadline would be eligible to receive a free pair of Sam Edelman shoes. Students are instructed to contact the representative who sent them the original invitation to the meet-and-greet to arrange the gift.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on October 9, 2013.

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