Fashion Industry Interview: Making Connections with FadMashion's Jason Greene

fad-mashionlogo1.gifPR Couture is lucky enough to be one of the first to get the insider scoop on FadMashion, a new global fashion site that combines the latest technology (portfolio viewers, profile management) with a clean interface to support emerging designers and retailers looking to get connected. With memberships for designers, retailers and media (yes, fashion bloggers are included here!) FadMashion is changing the way retailers do business, and providing a means for global fashion designers to interface directly with prominent boutiques, no expensive transatlantic flight, or “we only see new designers on the third Tuesday between 3-4pm” frustrations required! In their words, “Our goal is to help designers, retailers, and media professionals save time and accomplish their business’ goals efficiently and cost effectively.”

FadMashion is currently in beta, having handpicked a first round of designers and retailers. However, growth is imminent and the free site is sure to become a powerful fashion marketing resource for fashion PR’s who rep emerging designers and retailers. As FadMashion continues to establish smart alliances with industry leaders like Parsons and FWD, FadMashion provides a refreshing opportunity to increase visibility among fashion media looking for cutting edge, pre-screened talent.

For more information, contact FadMashion through their online form.

fadmashion-screenshot1.jpgPR: What is the basic business model for FadMashion? What problem does it solve?

JG: At the moment our business model is advertising, but our ultimate goal is to become a significant asset to a larger more traditional fashion institution that is interested in tapping into the online industry networking world – specifically regarding emerging designers, retailers and fashion consumers. We have already seen some interest.

FadMashion is a centralized, easy-to-use fashion promotional and networking platform that solves the two-way problem faced by designers and retailers alike. At FadMashion we make it easier for retailers to find fresh, quality talent in a marketplace overrun by outdated, scattered resources and we make it easier for designers to present their wares through our streamlined profile management interface. It’s easy, and it’s free.

PR: What tools and opportunities does FadMashion offer designers and fashion retailers?

JG: As a FadMashion Designer, you will be able to showcase your portfolio directly to global retailers and media. Your FadMashion profile will serve as your virtual trade show booth accessible to anyone at anytime. You can also use our stockist feature to indicate via google maps which stores carry your items. This has never been done before in the way we do it, and certainly never before for global emerging designers on this scale. Designers will soon benefit from consumer ratings and comments which are positioned to the consumer as their tools to help steer the industry and support new looks offered by our amazingly talented pool of global emerging designers.

Designer Features include access to active, global retailers & media, a space alongside top quality emerging designers, a state-of-the-art portfolio viewer to display your designs, an easy-to-use environment, and a cost effective and efficient means to market your portfolio

FadMashion Retailers, gain access to emerging global fashion talent. FadMashion screens each and every designer in our network to ensure that the time you spend searching for new talent on FadMashion is time well spent. Our consumer features such as ratings and comments will also serve as guides to retailers to help determine what the market likes in new fashion.

Retailer Features include direct contact with emerging global designers, a screened designer community, a state-of-the-art portfolio viewer for easy navigation, listing and management of your shortlisted designers, [the ability to] organize your product and profile favorites for future reference, and powerful search filtering to find exactly what you are looking for.

PR: What kind of fashion designers do you look for? What specific challenges do those designers face and how does FadMashion provide them with a solution?

JG: We look for talented, hard working emerging designers who have gained some following but have not yet “made it”, and for new talent who may have had trouble gaining access to the market but offer killer designs that should be brought to the attention of the public and the retail market.

FadMashion was inspired by our CoFounder Yael Hartmann’s younger sister, Daisy, who is now at FIT. As a teenager, Daisy had developed a following in high school but found it difficult and expensive to market her wares to buyers. Yael and I did some research and realized that Daisy was not alone. We realized we could provide value to emerging designers by bridging the gap with retailers at a single online venue, and by helping retailers find this new talent in a familiar format.

Now that social networking is mainstream, our industry networking solution is proving a natural progression and a very real tool to break down the wall. It’s also free and therefore cost effective. Once we met Anish Aggarwal, our third partner and programmer, we began to turn our mission into relaity. Our other team members, graphic designer Owen Linton, Fashion Director Melissa Halpern, and Fashion Writer Michael Cesari have provided the additional support we’ve needed to get the ball rolling.

Some designers pay agents inordinate amounts of cash to agents to help them find contacts, and others buy outdated lists of buyers who do not respond. Much like Linkedin, when designers contact retailers on FadMashion, retailers respond. There is a sense of trust because we handpick and screen each of our designers, and we evaluate every single designer who applies to our site. We know everyone on our site, and that means we can help our members that much more.

PR: What has the response been thus far? Did you leverage pre-existing relationships or have new relationships developed through FadMashion itself?

JG: The Founders, including myself, had ZERO fashion connections going into this, so all of our fashion connections are new. Parson, ZooZoom, FashionWeekDaily, Nolcha/Metier – these are all new relationships with fantastic people who have proven that what we are doing has a very real demand in the industry. Their encouragement has meant the world to us!

As for member responses – without any marketing (this is one of the first articles about us) – we have managed to sign on 92 designers, 56 retailers, 20 media members for a total of 139 collections and 782 products. We managed to do this with no funding and while each of us still have full time jobs. That said, I’d say the response has been encouraging.

PR: Is FadMashion changing the way that retailers search for new talent? What about the way that designers seek out potential retailers or media connections? Can you share any recent success stories?

JG: FadMashion is helping retailers field designer inquiries about stocking their product at their stores. At present, retailers receive phone calls and walk ins from designers every day, asking them to look at their latest collection. FadMashion allows stores to look at the designer’s portfolio first, then decide whether to make first contact with the designer, or reply to their inquiry. The site gives the designer a fighting chance with many retailers who might not have time to see the designer in person or take their calls but is online anyway and has the two minutes to glance at the portfolio the designer has created on FadMashion.

Designers and Retailers are speaking to each other on a daily basis on FadMashion, with designers growing bolder every day in researching and contacting relevant retailers. Several retailers have agreed to accept samples from designers whose FadMashion portfolios they have been impressed with.

PR: How did your partnerships with Nolcha and Parsons come about? How do they function to mutual benefit?

JG: A friend of mine on the social network (which was actually founded by a designer on our network – Marijoli, aka Marielle Byworth) suggested I speak with Nolcha. I was introduced and eventually met Kerry Bannigan – the founder of Nolcha. We had a drink at the W Hotel in Times Square to discuss opportunities. Kerry is a mastermind, and after we brainstormed for a bit we saw clearly that both of our businesses point in the same direction – to help emerging designers. For now, Nolcha and FadMashion are throwing co-branded fashion industry networking events at boutiques in NYC. Moving forward I think you will see more joint efforts that will add solid value to our membership. The people at Nolcha work incredibly hard, so they make a great partner as we share a similar work ethic.

Parsons came about from a cold call – er, several cold calls. I called them up and spoke to about 10 people before i met a key contact who saw the light and made it happen. Parsons sponsors our network section and we are planning to discuss some interesting initiatives as we gain more traction.

PR: How do you plan to promote FadMashion?

JG: We are promoting it through word of mouth, through industry events at boutiques throughout NYC, and through very targeted articles at top publications… one of these articles is currently in the making – I just can’t say where yet;)

PR: How did you assemble your beta pool of members?

JG: Founder Yael Hartmann has literally scoured the world and hand picked each and every designer we have. She called them, emailed them and explained what we are doing. Their support has proven invaluable. We are now starting to see organic growth from search engines, word of mouth and a few links we have around the Web.

PR: On the social networking side, how will FadMashion distinguish itself from other fashion networking sites?

JG: We are all about using technology to join industry members together and then bridging those relationships offline. We are not a social networking site. We are a fashion industry network dedicated to the industry, and we have created an extremely clean site to help visitors focus on the products. We feel the aesthetic we have chosen lends itself to a clear view of what our members have to offer. Some other sites offer value and we send a big shout out to everyone in the industry who is trying to help. We are all about alliances. But when it comes to our design, and our clear focus on bringing together retailers and designers from around the world, we feel our site offers the cleanest, most focused value proposition, and the best venue for marketing and promoting designer wares in front of people who can really make a difference. We are also introducing a consumer element which we feel will further support our goal of driving both the market and our site toward a serious view of what’s to come. There is no direct purchasing right now on FadMashion; it’s about sharing information – valuable information – and fostering communication in a way that makes it easy for everyone to find and promote to a relevant audience. We are also rolling out a system of alerts to help save even more time and efforts in the search for new talent. We anticipate this feature becoming a perfect tool for receiving the exact information retailers seek.

PR: Are fashion bloggers considered media at FadMashion – why/why not?

JG: Absolutely! Fashion bloggers offer keen insights on what’s happening in fashion, and many consumers look to those bloggers for guidance. We greatly value fashion bloggers and credit them with opening up this very exclusive industry in a way that maintains its integrity – and possibly adds more integrity through their honesty.

PR: What are 3 upcoming trends on your radar? (Can be cultural, fashion….)

JG: Japanese designers are finally becoming a big deal in the US. They started to gain momentum on the West Coast — in Seattle, with the exclusively Japanese products store Atsui Tokyo – and are now spreading to our side of the country. Their designs are edgy and Americans are starting to brave their androgynous, complex pieces.

Collections of tees, dresses and pants made of comfortable soft wash cottons and other materials seem to be a staple this season — designers like Saint Grace and Sophomore are a testament to that. Pairing a tee that feels like you’ve had it since grade school with bright colored short shorts and some outrageous jewelry makes for an evening outfit these days.

In menswear, extreme sports, graffiti art and fine art is influencing the tee shirt industry more than ever — emerging designer brands like MCRS (House of Macoris), Alador and S.M.I.T.H. and Steven Day’s Nice Clothing are examples of artists who have translated their work onto fabric using indirect political symbols and urban motifs.

About This Author

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. Crosby spends her time managing PR Couture and mentoring fashion publicists through PRISM and Instappable, as well as the biannual NYC workshop, Fashion PR Confidential. Occasionally, she opens up limited consulting spots for emerging brands through her signature offering, The Brand Elixir.