Many designers dream of having their own fashion shows. And why wouldn’t they? The lights, the glamour, the models, the excitement, all revolving around their creations – who wouldn’t want that?! Fashion shows are great at garnering attention and creating buzz. But they’re usually not the best way to stimulate sales for startup brands or emerging designers.
Why? Fashion shows costs a lot of money. Typically, newer designers lack the capital of a larger brand likeAlexander Wang, Zac Posen, or Tory Burch. Without a significant budget, the show itself is likely to suffer. Think about it – what makes a successful fashion show? It’s the right venue, experienced models, great publicists, smart and creative producers, talented hair and make-up artists, dressers and backstage assistants, and extra promotional dollars to pay celebrities to attend and drum up further media coverage.
Did you know that Chanel pays Rihanna about $80k, just to sit front row at their shows? If you want a fashion show attended by top-tier, notable press outlets, influencers, buyers and target customers, the show itself needs to be top-notch; which often requires a sizable budget. Many shows from new and small designers end up looking lackluster and simply aren’t much to write about. You don’t want to go cheap on a fashion show.
If you want a fashion show that notable press will write about and will attract recognizable people to attend, then a sizable budget is necessary.
In addition to a tiny budget, another mistake I see time and again from independent designers is making the fashion show the only marketing activity to promote a collection, with no further outreach planned or budget earmarked for additional strategies. This is risky because if the fashion show doesn’t meet expectations, there is no additional budget to invest in other tactics, and sometimes, that extends to dollars to actually produce inventory to sell.
So when is the right time to have a fashion show? It’s when you have the following 5 factors present in your fashion business:
1. There’s an existing demand for your line
Fashion shows are too pricey to be pure experimentation or a way of getting feedback on a collection. It only makes sense to invest in one if you have already garnered a strong demand for your brand. This means, at minimum, a loyal customer base, a certain amount of editor interest, and a business strategy that is bringing in consistent sales. Without setting the foundation, you’re making it harder on yourself when it comes to convincing press, buyers, and influencers to attend.
2. The cost to produce the fashion show won’t affect your ability to run your business
This is important because fashion shows don’t necessarily give you a return on your investment right away. That means, it could take days, weeks, and even months before you start seeing money come back. So, make sure you’ve got enough capital to continue business operations.
3. Production is already in place (and working)
Do not have a fashion show if you don’t have the capability to produce inventory. What’s the point of marketing your collection if you have no stock to sell?
4. You’re willing to invest to create a memorable, press-worthy experience
In the same way that you won’t compromise on fabric, don’t settle for a mediocre fashion week or runway show opportunity, just so that you can say you had a show. Fashion shows are not a small investment, nor are they mandatory. Wait until you have the proper funds to do it justice. After all, you and your customers deserve the best.
5. You have a PR, marketing and sales strategy in place
A fashion show shouldn’t be the only thing you’re doing to promote your brand. Make sure you have a robust communication plan that includes social media, email marketing, content marketing and more to keep expanding your brand recognition, reach, and sales.
Overall, fashion shows are a great way to stimulate buzz, which can contribute to heightened sales. But it’s definitely a strategy more suitable for established brands that possess a higher degree of capital and infrastructure.
If you’re now wondering, well what should I be doing? Learn the best marketing tactics for new and emerging brands by signing up for our upcoming course, How To Start + Grow A Fashion Brand That Sells, happening online August 27. Register here and save 10% with code PRCOUTURE.
Mary Vallarta is the founder & CEO of both the FAB Counsel and the Digital Influencer Lab. Prior to launching these ventures, Mary worked as a Fashion Buyer for retailers such as Macy’s, BCBG, Metropark, and Bebe. She currently teaches Fashion Marketing and Entrepreneurship at the Los Angeles Technical College. Mary’s professional objectives are driven by a creative desire and the satisfaction of helping others succeed.