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By Truc Nguyen

Miniature cupcakes, fashion shows and an awards ceremony combined to launch Conscious Media Magazine’s fourth issue last Saturday at Yorkville’s posh Lanes Gallery.

The locally-produced fashion magazine features numerous Ryerson students on its masthead, including Fashion Director Erin Chan. The publication, which is published four times a year, is distributed for free in Toronto and Montreal. Surviving as a free glossy isn’t an easy task in Toronto’s crowded market.

The magazine strives to set itself apart by featuring articles on haute cuisine chef Susur Lee and the Gladstone Hotel, alongside the requisite fashion spreads and profiles on emerging clothing labels. “We do not want to be a typical fashion magazine,” says Chan, who by day plays the part of a second-year fashion design student at Ryerson. Chan describes herself as “a magazine addict” and “diligent student of fashion,” and has been with the publication from the beginning.

“‘Conscious’ means being conscious of the different ways that people are creative and express themselves,” Chan says. “We love art. We love design and we love music. And of course, there is that whole fashion thing as well.” And so alongside jewelry and sumptuous desserts, the launch featured a charity auction and ceremony organized in conjunction with Toronto’s Share the Warmth charity, a student-run homelessness prevention project.

Conscious of the Cold Awards were given out to politicians and corporations which support the ethos of energy conservation as well as the charity’s efforts, including Toronto Mayor David Miller. To raise funds for Share the Warmth, the local media, creative types and students at the packed event also happily bid on fashionable silent auction items such as a Shiseido gift pack and beauty treatments at the Summerhill Spa.

Although Conscious Media is officially not a student magazine, the Ryerson connection was evident at the launch. Many of the volunteers and contributors present were students in programs such as image arts, journalism and fashion design. The evening’s fashion shows, which featured clothing from local merchants and imported jewelry from Korea, was organized by Chan and Roseanna Roberts, another fashion communications major who moonlights as Conscious Media’s head stylist.

“The clothes were all made in Nepal, and there was a light-hearted undertone to the clothes, lots of colour accents paired with the basics,” Roberts says.

The show displayed an overall Asian theme which was inspired by the Turkish Tea Party photography spread from the latest issue. Both Chan and Roberts agreed that the magazine would be a great learning experience for their shared cause of combining fashion and social issues in a relevant, attractive way. Also, Roberts adds, the networking opportunities are endless. “It’s great being able to get your foot in the door and put a name down on your resume,” Roberts says.

“Working with a small company, especially one that is still developing, has allowed me to work in areas that would otherwise have been hard to break into.”

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