The launch of Conglomerate magazine hopes to give Calgary’s designers the boost they need
Think intelligent. Think slick. Think clean. Think Conglomerate – a new local publication that has its sights set to be Canada’s fashion week magazine.
“Right now there are no magazines in Canada that focus solely on local designers,” said Melissa Wusaty, publisher and editor-in-chief of Conglomerate. “We have great fashion publications here in Canada, but they still have a very international appeal.”
Timed to coincide with Alberta Fashion Week, Conglomerate will be released as an online magazine on March 20, followed by the release of printed editions in April.
As a stylist, Wusaty – born and raised in Calgary – started feeling frustrated when a lot of the stores that she had built long relationships with were closing. Sick and tired of no one paying attention and “people constantly belittling Calgary and our potential to accomplish more here,” Wusaty developed Conglomerate.
“I feel like we’re lacking a very intelligent platform to discuss our local fashion industry,” Wusaty said. “I feel like our designers don’t get that platform to be recognized, to be celebrated, to be promoted.”
Channeling the aesthetics of a European magazine over a North American, the semiannual magazine – released in March and October – does not have any type on the front cover, leaving the full-length photograph and masthead to do the talking.
Makeup-artist, Sandra Cross, prepares model, Ania Boniecka, for her feature editorial shoot.
Photo courtesy: Allison Toohey
Local photographer Michael Morrison, whose clients include Chatelaine magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Style and Living Magazine, shot the cover shoot and feature editorial for Conglomerate. He said that his experience working for the magazine was a positive and open one.
“There was a lot of freedom within the magazine for me to express myself throughout the shoot,” Morrison said. “They (the art directors) looked to me for lots of inspiration and leadership. They knew what they wanted, but they wanted my help getting there. It was great to have that freedom and to bounce ideas back and forth.”
Wusaty describes the magazine as being very clean with a lot of white space. Straying away from the clutter of little advertising squares, Conglomerate only offers full page or double spreads for advertisers.
“Overall, the product from cover-to-cover is very clean and we want to keep that strong and the brand apparent,” Wusaty said.
Along with fashion editorials, each issue of Conglomerate will feature a designer. The upcoming issue features Caitlin Power, whose collection will be shown at Alberta Fashion Week.
“I feel really honored and thankful that I have those people that believe in me,” Power said. “I hope it gets in the right hands.”
Power says that she knows the magazine will reach out to young trendsetters, but hopes that it will also reach out to the corporate world and attract investors for up-and-coming artists like herself.
Besides local designers, the magazine discusses people who are making a difference in the fashion industry. It also provides store reviews, trend features, book reviews related to the fashion industry, and interviews with the models that are featured.
“We treat our readers as intelligent people, we’re not here to dumb anyone down,” Wusaty said. “We are here to educate people on what fashion is about and give those designers (featured in Alberta Fashion Week) an opportunity to be spoken about intelligently.”
Wusaty brought on two art directors for the project: Lionel Cipriano and Allison Toohey, graphic design students, are both in their fourth year at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Wusaty said that although it is nice to work with established people, she thinks that the more interesting work is coming from the students.
Last summer, Cipriano had the opportunity to work in New York City for the fashion publication NYLON magazine. He says that fashion was the biggest thing he recognized while he was there.
“Being submerged in the culture that New York carried, and the energy that the city had, was so different from what Calgary currently has,” Cipriano said.
Cipriano says that Calgary is so often characterized as a “redneck,” “white collared,” business orientated society.
“I wanted to bring what I witnessed in New York over the summer to Calgary,” Cipriano said. “We want to try and create a more opinionated voice. I’m hoping that it (Conglomerate) will give an honest opinion about fashion that is currently happening in Calgary, and eventually in Canada.”
Although it was part of the magazine’s original five-year business plan, opportunities to branch out overseas have come a lot sooner than expected. While keeping Canada as the magazine’s primary focus, Wusaty says that Conglomerate has received a lot more attention overseas than it has in Canada.
Wusaty hopes that Conglomerate will ultimately branch out to cover every fashion week in Canada, but she realizes that establishing a place in the fashion industry in Canada doesn’t come as easy as it does in Europe.
“You tell people that you work in the fashion industry over there, they take you seriously,” Wusaty said. “You tell people that you work in the fashion industry here, and they laugh at you.”
Despite the battle, Wusaty remains hopeful and says that her passion for the project makes the stress and the long hours diminish.
The website will be up on March 20: HYPERLINK "http://www.conglomeratemag.com" www.conglomeratemag.com