Fashion Designers: 5 Affordable and Alternative Ideas for Showcasing Your Fashion Collections!

The runways of NY Fashion Week are the pinnacle of all things glamorous and can turn fashion designers into industry darlings. However, it is also a very costly production and may not be the best place for a new designer to launch their line. As much as I love, love, love seeing shows during Fashion Week, I don’t recommend that new designers spend that kind of money to get their designs seen so early in their careers. This post will give you ideas for alternative ways to showcase your fashion line during Fashion Week (or any time of year!).

Putting together a Fashion Week runway show can be very expensive. It costs at least $30k to show at NY Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. You need to have proper funding to pay for the: space, models, hair, makeup, set design, lighting, photographers, videographers, plus the cost of your actual designs, among other things. In my opinion, new designers shouldn’t be doing runways shows until they are making enough money to sustain normal business activities plus the cost of putting together a Fashion Week Runway Shows.

Fashion Week Runway Shows are the best platform for established leaders in fashion innovation. There are over 100 shows in NY during Fashion Week and it’s hard for Fashion Editors and Buyers to make it to all of the well-known designer runway shows. If you are able to hold your fashion event close to where the actual runway shows are taking place, it makes it easier for editors and buyers to stop in and attend.

Wherever you decide to have your fashion show, be sure to have someone videotape it so you can post it on your website and blog (and so the fashion bloggers can do the same thing for you!). Live video-streaming is also an excellent option for your fans and clients who live out of town but still want to support you and “be a part” of your fashion show!

Here are a few ideas that can be used for a more cost-effective fashion presentation:

1. Do a fashion installation in a hotel suite. You can have models standing in the room that’s put together like a chic fashion shoot set wearing your most exciting and show-stopping designs for editors and buyers to walk around and see.

2. Throw a cocktail party at a popular local lounge that features a few models in your designs to launch your line. You can invite lots of friends, family, buyers, bloggers, local boutique owners and press to attend and you will also have some of the location’s regular foot traffic to rely on.

3. Are you an early-bird? Consider hosting a small invite-only breakfast buffet at a cute local restaurant where you can do a fashion show. Both women and men love free food and the fact that it comes with entertainment (your fashion show) is an added bonus for them!

4. Is there a great neighborhood garden, park or local museum that you could negotiate using as a space to showcase your designs?

5. Many colleges have fashion shows, especially around homecoming time. Could this be another way for you to get your designs seen?

Be Bold, Bright and a Cut Above – Tips to Style Your Way Into Fashion News

Fashion. It’s a competitive game. And if the likes of Vogue’s Anna Wintour are anything to go by, it can be incredibly daunting for those just starting out and doing their own PR.

Yet, the glossy mags are ultimately where we want to be seen.

So how do you get fashion editors to take notice of your label if you’re not the owner of an established brand like Sass and Bide or Ksubi?

Editor of Australia’s Shop Till You Drop magazine, Justine Cullen says “do your research and think creatively”.

And if you’re pitching her a story…?

“Please make sure it’s not [a story] that ran in the magazine the month before, that you clearly haven’t read. Cringe. And target it. Sounds basic but I’m always deleting pitches sent for ‘your food and health pages’. Which we don’t have,” she says.

DIY PR guru, Amanda Fox of Dames and Divas says being eco-friendly, limited edition and one-of-a-kind, handcrafted from vintage silk kimonos helped her shoes stand out and get featured in the media.

“Their bright, bold colours definitely stand out which are reinforced with clean, clear, crisp professional product photography,” said Amanda.

Melbourne based, celebrity stylist Amber Renae agrees saying bold colours, heavy embellishments and a cut no-one has seen before gets a fashion editor’s attention. You also need to be persistent and proactively contact the media.

Producing key editorial pieces that might be a bit crazy to wear, specifically for PR purposes, in addition to your saleable line, also helps, she said.

And if you want to get your clothes to a celebrity – just contact their stylist “9 out of 10 times we’ll look at your look-book and product,” says Amber.

Here are PR Guru’s 10 tips on doing your own fashion PR:

1. Get your timing right – fashion titles work two to six months in advance, so make sure you’re pitching for the right season.

2. Read the magazines you want to get covered in, get to know their content and style and adapt your story pitch to suit them.

3. Look amazing; stand out. This is when attention to detail counts – make your media kit look as professional and beautiful as possible.

4. Tell the story behind your range/label and explain what makes it like no other, include a great press release in your media kit.

5. Check in with the media. Send in samples but don’t forget to follow up with a phone call and your story pitch. Only send releases to one member of staff at the same publication.

6. Gift your wares. Select a small number of celebrities that you think would be best suited to your product. Contact their publicists – look online or you can sometimes go through the publicity department of the media outlet or TV network they work for.

7. Invest in top quality, professional photography – the media may or may not use your images but it’s still important to have the best available photographs to ‘sell’ your product. Include 3 high quality low res JPG’s of your strongest products.

8. Don’t forget the details. Make sure your media kit contains all the retail and pricing information as well as your location, contact details and biography.

9. Love your product, wear it, promote it – take Allanah Hill as an example – she is always promoting her brand.

10. Get on the event scene and be seen. Never underestimate the power of meeting people at events. Plus use social media.

How To Do Your Own Fashion PR

Having a fashion publicist is definitely worth the cost, but if you’re an emerging fashion designer, that may not be a business expense you can afford just yet. If you’re working with a zero budget for your PR campaign, don’t sweat. (Well, try not to.) Here are a few ways to get around that dilemma and pitch your fashion label on your own:

1. Do research on how to pitch effectively.

One of the biggest gripes that magazine editors have are weak pitches! If you’re going to go head-on with an editor, especially in fashion, have your pitch down to perfection as a PR professional would. Research what to say and what not to say. Know whom you are contacting by first name, last name, and title. Think of the “elevator pitch”. Can you introduce yourself and describe your company within 15 seconds? That’s how direct your pitch should be. List the basic who, what, where, why, when, and how in an easy, conversational tone, and conclude with an open-ended question about following up with you to send more information about your label.

2. Getting a follow-up and properly responding.

If you’re lucky, a fashion editor will get back to you in regards to featuring your collection in an upcoming issue. Be prepared for any requests that may be asked, i.e. designer bio, line sheets, lending agreements, or lookbook images. At this point, your lookbook or press kit should already be completed for your current collection, and make sure that it’s updated for every new season. Be swift in your responses to editors when they ask for things because they can easily move on to the next designer if you’re not keeping up with them. Remember, they have frantic deadlines and you’re considered to be on their time!

3. Sending your press release to the media.

A well-prepared press release can definitely alert the media of your new collection. Spend some time on PR distribution websites and study how the best ones are written. Follow the standard model of a press release and formulate a few paragraphs about the new release of your collection and about you as the designer. Set up a free account with press release distribution sites and schedule your releases to be sent out to the local media. You can also e-mail and fax your press release directly to news stations and newspapers (they’re always looking for local stories to cover). Who knows – what if you’re called in to be featured in a morning news segment? That’s definitely a good look for your press portfolio.

4. Invite the media to your launch party.

If you plan on celebrating the launch of your new collection, you’re responsible for securing the venue, setting up the event, and sending out media invites. It’s best to send formal invites to editors through the mail at least 3-4 weeks in advance so that gives them the opportunity to pencil you in their schedule. Fashion bloggers are also great to invite, of course. Event photos, blog write-ups, and Twitter mentions from different bloggers means more publicity for your fashion line, which you need in order to attract more customers. Make sure to save your press clips and send thank-yous to anyone doing coverage of your event.

5. Make friends with fashion stylists.

Another way to possibly have your fashion line featured in a magazine is to have a stylist hook-up. They’re always pulling clothes for photo shoots and looking for hot, new designers to work with. Get acquainted with some fashion stylists in your area by using social media and going to different fashion events in your city. It’s also good to know a lot of photographers, models, and makeup artists who can probably help get your collection used in an editorial photo shoot.

There’s so much work that goes into handling the PR side of a fashion label that more than likely should be handled by a pro. Once your label starts becoming increasingly profitable, hiring a good PR team to help you market your brand would be the best way to go. While it’s in your hands for now, do tons of research on the job of a fashion publicist and implement some of those ideas into your own marketing campaign.