It finally happened… you’re looking at that rack and it’s full. Your life’s work, your first collection, is ready for the world to see. It’s time to plan your first fashion show!
Or is it?
I’m Benji, the founder of kayneLIVE. With 15+ years in the event production and lighting/audio/visual/design industries, I’m going to share some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way about planning a successful first fashion show, and how to do it on a tight budget. But first, we need to decide if it’s really time for a fashion show. I’ve seen countless designers get overeager and throw their first fashion shows too soon, only to find themselves with no audience or a poorly presented line, damaging their brand potential.
A fashion show is loosely defined as any event to showcase a designer’s collection. More specifically, the goal of a fashion show is to showcase your collection of clothes, shoes, or accessories to three key audiences: fashion editors, fashion photographers and fashion buyers. It’s tempting to throw a fashion show to finally show your friends your years of hard work, but that’s just called throwing a party.
- Is your line ready and complete? Do you absolutely love it and want it to represent you to the world indefinitely?
- Do you have connections to the fashion PR world?
- Do you know if editors or bloggers will come?
- Is there anyone who buys what you’ve designed on a wholesale basis that you know is interested in seeing your collection presented?
- Can you pack the house, in addition to the editors and buyers, with supportive friends and fellow fashion industry professionals?
If the answer is yes, then it’s quite possibly time to start planning your first fashion show. We’ll talk about that in the next column. But if you’ve hesitated on the answer to any of those questions, you need to do some networking and PR first. Some ideas include:
- Reach out to a small fashion PR agency or professional freelance publicist and set up an initial consultation. If your vibes match, and you have a little money to spend, they will be your key to bringing the right audience. Take as many of these meetings as you can, listen carefully, take notes, and ask tons of questions; the knowledge you will gain is priceless.
- Team up with an established designer to do a “secondary” show, perhaps in their venue before their show. Or collaborate to integrate your clothing with an accessory designer’s presentation. Lots of established designers remember what it was like to be just starting out, and perhaps you can barter some of your services in exchange for the help.
- Beef up your social media presence, and begin connecting with the right audience on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as on specialized sites such as OSFashion. Get out there and network. Go to parties, go to bars, go to clubs. Go to small fashion shows, trunk sales, and designer showcases. Take classes at your closest fashion institute and pick the brains of the guest speakers.
Once you’re confident you’ll be able to get the press and buyers to your show, it’s time to start planning. Get your credit card ready (fashion shows cost money to throw!) and we’ll chat about the different ways to showcase your collection and begin pre-production.
Original image created by Jason Hargrove.