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Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

Zombie couture to hit the runway

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm

The Ryerson fashion design program is getting a unique showcase later this month, thanks to two of its students’ desires to dress the living dead.

“I always really wanted to do my own show with zombie makeup (and) one day I said it out loud,” said Meghan Erin, the third-year fashion design student behind the show.

Toronto has had a Zombie Walk since 2003, in which thousands of people dressed in their best blood-soaked garb lurch their way through the city’s streets. Last year’s had 6,000 participants. But there haven’t been any zombie fashion shows until now.

After telling her idea to friend and classmate Maegan McWade, the two decided to turn the idea into reality and began planning in early July, securing several sponsors and a historic venue for the show.

Zombie Walk: The Runway takes place at the Berkeley Church at 315 Queen St. E. on Oct. 26 and will feature collections from Ryerson’s fashion design and communication programs alongside styling from Spellbound Hair Salon and the Complexions Academy of Makeup.

The fashion show is not officially linked to Toronto’s Zombie Walk, athough it comes only three days after the big walk.

All proceeds from the $25 tickets will benefit the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. They are hoping to raise $10,000.

For Erin, the foundation was an easy choice given that October is Brain Tumour Awareness month. Some of the people involved in the show have even been personally affected by the disease. It was also a natural and timely fit with the theme of the show.

“We made the connection between brains and zombies,” said McWade.

Though the two initially thought of doing the show as a personal project, Ryerson’s involvement has allowed it to reach a larger audience and transform into something far greater than either anticipated. The Ryerson Students’ Union is one of the sponsors.

“It’s come from being a personal idea to so much more,” Erin said.

“We knew we couldn’t do it without the support of the school.”

To raise awareness of the show, Erin and McWade sent out a series of emails to students in their program from first to fourth year. They ended up with four to five personal collections and 15 from Ryerson students, focused on the themes of darkness and subversion.

In addition to the designers participating, many of the models and volunteers were also found on campus and were eager to get involved.

“Feedback has been really positive,” said McWade.

“Everyone’s been really interested in the theme.”

Ashley Fitzgerald, a third-year fashion communication student assisting with ticket sales and planning, credits early advertising efforts and Erin and McWade’s hard work for bringing attention to the show.

“We generated a lot of interest early through postering,” she said.

“They’ve been handling it so well. It’s surpassed what they thought it would be.”

The high level of interest so far has Erin and McWade optimistic the show could turn into an annual event but for the time being, the two are focusing on ensuring the debut is as successful as possible.

Erin says that there’s something for everyone, even those not interested in fashion. There will also be a silent auction, a raffle draw, dance performances and theatrics.

Tickets for both the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. shows are being sold on campus every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the library building and also online at zombiewalktherunway.ca.

* Published on October 12, 2010 in the Ryersonian

Group deals offer big discounts

In Education on October 10, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Lee Liu and Chris Nguyen are the creators of TeamSave, a social buying website. Photo credit: TeamSave.

When Chris Nguyen was planning his destination wedding last fall, he realized that a $1,500 plane ticket to Mexico could be slashed to $1,100 if more people booked with him.

The Ryerson information technology management grad  approached his business partner Lee Liu with the possibility of turning that piece of knowledge into a business venture.

“How do we take this same concept and apply it locally?” he asked Liu.

It’s a good question to ask.  Social buying websites are the latest craze sweeping the Internet, with many finding popularity among cash-strapped students with a knack for social networking.

Capitalizing on the power of group buying and the love of a good deal, Nguyen and Liu founded TeamSave. Developed in Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, TeamSave launched in April 2010 and already has over 10,000 members. Discounts range anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent off anything from restaurants to theatre performances.

Social media websites have played an important role in TeamSave’s growth. They make it easier for Nguyen to both advertise deals instantly to a large number of people and monitor how others are spreading the word. TeamSave members receive notifications on deals through email, Twitter, and Facebook on each day’s deal.

“I’m seeing how they share it,” he said. “Thirty per cent of our traffic is coming from social media.”

Despite competition from a large number of other social buying websites in the city — most notably the Chicago-based giant Groupon, which has a Toronto version — Nguyen sees nothing but steady growth for TeamSave, which is currently expanding to other cities.

Boris Vaisman, another Ryerson grad from the business management program, took a different approach to his social buying website, Chicoup, by targeting it to women.

After a female friend told him how she felt overwhelmed when going out in Toronto, Vaisman wanted to create a way for women to try out new places around the city. Launched in August 2010, discounts on his site range from 50 to 90 per cent off female-oriented activities like manicures and shopping for designer brand clothing.

Vaisman says the power of groups not only make the discounts possible, but fuel the number of people aware of and using the site.

“We bring a perfect excuse for people to try it out,” he said. “You’re not going to want to do it alone . . . word of mouth has helped us.”

Though Vaisman sees a diverse demographic using Chicoup, he has had a stronger response from those in the 20 to 35 age group — particularly students who tend to spread the word quicker.

“We’ve increased awareness of this type of concept and now that more students are aware of it, it works,” he said.

In addition to social networking, Chicoup has also been gaining members through giveaways, such as last week’s gift package including a complimentary tanning session, laser hair removal session and one-week yoga pass. Vaisman says the key is to offer deals on activities and services that his members are interested in, so he ensures that he targets the hottest spots in Toronto.

Discounts and giveaways like this are made possible because of the opportunities they create for the businesses involved. It’s a chance to turn first-time customers into continued business, which is why social buying has become popular for not only the public, but companies as well, Vaisman said.

According to Catherine Middleton, a Canada Research Chair whose research focuses on consumer adoption of new communication technologies, a 2009 Statistics Canada report found that of the 70 per cent of the population using the internet on a regular basis, 50 per cent are window shopping and 40 per cent are doing online purchases.

Though she sees a need for Canada to become a stronger digital society, she doesn’t dispute that younger generations have had no problem accepting and utilizing the digital age.
“It’s a question of does it make sense for everyone to do things online?” she said.

Azar Masoumi, director of student affairs for the sociology course union, is not surprised that students are attracted to social buying.

“Something that comes to my mind is that because students spend a lot of time on the computers anyways, they are more likely to engage in computer-based activities,” he said. “Also, because of the limited free time students often have, I think they are more likely to engage in things that are relaxing but fast.”

Third year hospitality and tourism management student July Legaspi recently discovered social buying websites and says they offer an easy way to discover the city on a budget.

“As a student you don’t have a lot of spare time to go out and find things to do, so it’s a lot easier to go on these sites and be able to find things you’re interested in,” he said. “Discounts are also appealing because although students’ disposable incomes are limited, we still want to have a social life.”

TeamSave currently has 775 “likes” on Facebook and over 700 followers on Twitter, which are both growing daily.

Nguyen has high aspirations for his website and says he sees no signs of social buying disappearing anytime soon.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg; it’s definitely here to stay.”

* Published on Oct. 10, 2010 in the Ryersonian

Bike design unveiled at cemetery

In Education on October 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Photo by Caitlyn Holroyd

After a little over a year of conceptualizing, creating, and manufacturing their winning design, Ryerson students Katy Alter and Jeff Cogliati’s lotus bike racks reached their final resting place in Mount Pleasant Cemetery last week.

Alter and Cogliati wanted the racks to be an integral part of their location and designed them specifically with the cemetery in mind. They modelled their rack after a lotus flower and the concepts of rebirth and spirituality, something that set them apart from the other entries in the Ryerson Mount Pleasant competition.

“We really wanted to pay attention to context and poetic intent,” said Alter, a fourth- year interior design student.

In September 2009, the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries held a competition for Ryerson students to design the most functional and esthetically pleasing bike racks to complement its cyclist-friendly environment. Alter and Cogliati won the $3,000 prize for their design last January.

“The Ryerson students approached the problem like real professionals,” said Janet Rosenberg, Ryerson alumna, landscape architect and jury chair, at the unveiling.

Though it acts primarily as a sanctuary commemorating those who have died, Mount Pleasant is also a popular place for walkers, runners, and cyclists.

Because of this, the cemetery looked to the creative minds at Ryerson to come up with a unique bike rack design that would complement the other statues and monuments within the 80-hectare green space.

“Partnering with such a fine institution as Ryerson University on this project has been extremely gratifying,” said Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries’ president and CEO Glenn McClary. “Mount Pleasant Cemetery is proud to be a place that provides opportunities for and showcases the work and talents of Toronto students.”

With the help of interior design assistant professor Andrew Furman, KNL Manufacturing and Mount Pleasant Cemetery, the bike racks came to life this past summer — transforming from drawings on a page to physical aluminum structures. Both Cogliati and Alter were thrilled after witnessing the unveiling of the final product and the reception it received from fellow classmates.

“I was ecstatic, it turned out better than I ever could have anticipated,” said Cogliati, a master’s student in the architecture program.
Cogliati and Alter said they are happy to have been part of something that will serve as a lasting legacy of their school and work.

“People are seeing something they’ve never seen before,” said Alter.

* Published on October 5, 2010 in the Ryersonian