Over the last three years I have created three on-line fashion brands. My first ever catwalk experience was at London Fashion Week back in 2011. Now being one of the very few women in the world reporting on Menswear, I mainly go to men’s fashion weeks. From the first ever men’s catwalk experience, it occurred to me, do men really buy into catwalks? What on earth do catwalks cost these days? Do catwalks have their buying influence like they used to? Can social media and on-line marketing sell your clothing as catwalks do but at a much lower cost? I say that it can especially for up and coming fashion labels. The reason I can say this is,  I have proved this over and over in the last two years on-line.
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The Cost of A Catwalk

One of the most extravagant catwalks is Victoria Secret, a lingerie brand. Victoria’s Secret Show accessories can be as much as $2 million. Yes, the Dream Angels Fantasy Bras in December of 2014 did cost that much. Each lingerie design was made by Mouawad jewellers using 16,000 rubies, diamonds and sapphires, all of which were strung together with 18 karat gold. The ornate ensembles took the designers more than 1,380 hours to make. Now, in this case, the marketing behind this brand has been a huge success for many years now. They simply can afford to do it. Just like leading brands such as Burberry and Chanel.

Victoria Secret 2015 catwalk

Catwalks Are Not The Only Way To Showcase your Collection

Do catwalks have their buying influence like they use to? Can social media and on-line marketing sell your clothing as catwalks do but at a much lower cost? Yes, they can, and my examples below illustrate why emerging fashion designers or the ones that are current should think about Social Media Marketing options. I get really upset when I see young designers being sold options that won’t work for them. Fashion weeks are beneficial for certain labels but not for all.

Fashion Weeks – Only The Top Brands Benefit

I happened to be in London last month, the same week as London Fashion week. I have been at fashion weeks in the past and their biggest buzz is all about maybe 2-3 top brands and the celebrities that can be seen at each show. These celebrities are paid to attend the catwalk and to get as much press as possible for the brand. These shows are loss-makers for big brands but it helps them create the allure of exclusivity for their mass-market products. On these mass-market products, big profits are made.

For young designers, this approach is much more difficult as the brand awareness and exclusivity is not there and the budgets are not there to lure in the celebrities. This might lead to false expectations. I have spoken to many designers who have paid to be at a fashion week and found it to be costly with little return. Why has this happened? It’s simple. Not all fashion weeks are a guarantee that your collection will get the effective press it so needs.

Fashion weeks are about getting your collection noticed and for the buyers to buy into for the next season. There are professional buyers from big stores who need an idea about what the collection will look like and forecast trends and sales projections. However, the collections that are showcased are for next year, and so by the time they are in the shops, most of the other people who attended the shows will have forgotten about it. For more about catwalks and their purpose read here.

Why Showcase A Collection When You Can’t Even Buy It?

Can you as a young fashion designer really afford to make a collection that is not even in the shops until a year later? What is the point of this anyway? Scouting around, looking at young designers trying to showcase a collection for next season, for me, makes no sense. Why are you trying to do what other big brands can afford to do? Also with fast fashion companies like Zara, they can jump on a trend and have a collection ready in their stores in 2-4 weeks. So are there alternatives to the bi-annual fashion weeks and their displays of products 2 seasons ahead?

Use Social Media To Create Brand Awareness

Use your own Social Media channels and those of bloggers and magazines to market your current collection or up and coming collection. You need to differentiate which ones are established and which ones are in your target market. Each month 10,000 fashion blogs are created and each month, 9,990 fashion blogs are closed or not maintained. So how do you choose which ones are right for your brand? A crude way of checking this is via the use of online metrics like Klout.com which is a tool to measure someone’s online social media influence.

Use online magazines and blogs that have actual traffic going to them. This is a no-brainer. I have been to many press events and seen a room full of bloggers with the goodie bag in their handwriting about a collection, however, the blog only has a handful of readers! This is sometimes the fault of the PR companies that organise these events where it is more about numbers than quality.

A crude way to check if blogs have traffic is via the use of alexa.com or similarweb.com. These online tools rank websites based on the traffic they receive. So next time you host an event for press, make sure that you or the PR companies that you use have done their homework and selected bloggers and online press that can help your brand to get exposed. You will also find out that good bloggers will charge you to cover your event, product or collection, as for them it is a full-time job.

Watch Out For Fakers

Please use the social media and website ranking tools that are mentioned here as I have found out from experience that there are a lot of fakers in the world. You can buy Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Instagram Followers, YouTube Subscribers, Soundcloud comments etc. But tools like klout.com can see what is real and what is fake.

Get The Right Help

From building GracieOpulanza.com 4 years ago and MenStyleFashion.com 3 years ago from scratch, I and my team know how to get noticed online and how to gain brand awareness and sales. We can use this experience to help you with your press event and select the right bloggers and online press for media coverage. You could also ask your PR company or internal press department to target quality over quantity and demand that you see their homework. Have a budget available for this. Lots of PR companies can only operate on the quality aspect when the right budgets are in place.

Social Media Management

Our expertise in Social Media we have bundled under MenStyleFashion. We can help with your social media campaign or select the right influencers for your business.

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