After  the success of the last mentoring event, Vauxhall Fashion Scout hosted a second last week at Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch. Featuring key speakers from the industry sharing their experience and advice for running a successful business as a fashion designer, they covered important topics such as how to approach PR companies, how to raise capital for your catwalk show and how to develop your brand season to season.

PR Guest Speakers:

Rob Davies Founding Director TRACEPublicity
Lian Hirst Founding Director TRACEPublicity
Fusing traditional PR methods with visionary solutions TRACE Publicity offers public relations, marketing, creative, solutions and events services across a number of constantly evolving markets.
General Advice
  • Market yourself as a brand. You are no longer ‘just’ a designer and everything you do from now on represents who you are and what you want to do, so marketing yourself well is key. Don’t be afraid of talking about yourself in a positive light. Successful designers talk to Editors and send emails about themselves on a regular basis. Nobody else can do this as well as you can. 
  • Aswell as talking to Editors/Journalists/Bloggers, don’t be afraid to talk yourself up to Buyer’s too, after all, they’re the ones with the money. 
  • Always turn up to your own parties. Believe it or not, some designers fail to do this! The people that turn up will be expecting to see you. Take a friend with you to combat the awkwardness that can ensue when a party is all about you!
  • Utilise Social Media but create brand new ones for yourself. Delete your personal one if there are things you wouldn’t want your clients and customers to see and keep it professional at all times. Generate interest by letting people in on what you are doing but try not to name drop a lot. You want to create and maintain interest and not put people off by giving everything away.

Press Releases
  • Press releases are absolutely vital. Think about the concept of your brand and what sets you apart from other people and try and put this into writing. If you aren’t confident of your writing then hire somebody to help you write it. There is nothing worse than a badly written representation. Keep it simple and clean and include all the facts, don’t try to be too clever. 

Lookbooks
  • Lookbooks don’t need to be excessively costly but it helps to produce a good looking, clean lookbook.
  • Be careful of gimmick lookbooks or ones that are too conceptualised. You want the reader to be able to see your clothing and appreciate the aesthetics of how your garments work together, and not be too focused on the background or artwork you may include.
  • Be aware of how other’s will view your garments and how they will want to adapt them for their shoot. They may come up with an entirely different way of using your garments than what is originally intended by you.
  • Consider buyer’s when producing your lookbooks. At exhibitions and shows, buyer’s may not have time to talk to you about your pieces, but a good strong lookbook will give them everything they need, and if they’re interested they can speak to you at a later date.
  • Send your lookbook out to as many industry insiders as you can afford to. Approximately 500 lookbooks need to be made to make an impact. Designers on a budget can shoot their lookbook and send high res images in emails, although be aware that emails can and do get lost amongst many other emails. 
  • Remember that lookbooks don’t have to be a physical book. Think about alternatives like an A3 fold out poster with small images of all your garments.
  • If you do choose to create your lookbook on a budget, invest in some high quality ones reserved for important editors and buyers. 
Hiring PR
  • It’s advised to seek the advice of a PR when you cannot handle the demand physically yourself. Otherwise, signing up to a PR agency can be a costly decision, which is why finding the right one is so important.
  • Try and meet as many PRs as possible and don’t dismiss the little ones. You need to feel comfortable in their presence as you will be placing a lot of trust in them so the connection needs to be right from the offset. 
  • Look at their client list and find out whether your brand sits in nicely alongside with them. Find out what they do for their current clients and whether they are selling in shops and advertising in publications you’d want to be in. 
  • Try and get your stockists sorted before employing a PR agency as it is costly.
  • There are agencies, who, if they really love your work, will do a season for free with you. Be careful, however, as some PR companies will take on designers for free just to build up their agency but have no contacts in that specific area.
  • Set targets for yourself and talk to the PRs about how you’re going to work together towards achieving those targets. Perhaps you want to be featured on Vogue.com or stocked in a certain shop. A good PR will help you fulfil your ambitions. 
  • Always keep your relationships strong, remember to be thankful and keep your brand in their mind. Press days are parties are an excellent opportunity to build your personal and professional contact list.
Press Guest Speakers: 

Alicia Tomlinson Editor in Chief 1883 Magazine
Filippo Giuliani Fashion Editor 1883 Magazine
1883 Magazine is an independently produced lifestyle biannual and online platform that showcases and promotes the most innovative new talent around. It celebrates all that is new and exciting in the world of fashion, music, film and the arts. 
General Advice
  • If you have an interesting backstory or history then capitalise on it and talk to it. Hundreds of designers are wanting to be featured in magazines on a weekly basis so try and find something that makes you different. 
  • Approach stylists. They bring extra knowledge to your collection and have good contacts with the industry. A lot of stylists, if they like your collections and visions, may work for less although this isn’t guaranteed. 
Photoshoots and Magazine Features
  • Be careful with your garments and who you loan them out to. Think about your brand essence and who you envision wearing your pieces. Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t want your pieces being worn by certain celebrities. People will take note of who wears you.
  • Make sure you know exactly what the stylist wants your pieces for. Always discuss it with them. Stylists will understand if you don’t want their clients to wear your garments and as long as you are polite, they won’t take offence. 
  • Ask for a commissioning letter for the magazine or publication they are shooting for. Ring the number or email the address just to double check. It’s awful but these are easy to photoshop!
  • Be available to Editors. If they ring you up and ask to see your pieces, try and meet their demands as soon as. It is far easier for them to just get another designer than keep chasing you up.
  • Co-operation is key with Editors. Keep in touch and regularly check your emails and if you can’t be at your emails for whatever reason, get someone else to.
  • When you bring the collections into the magazine office’s be as fast as you can. Magazines often have tight deadlines and they need the clothing photographed on time. Be clear on how your garments fit or open/close. Avoid disasters by labelling your garments with instructions and fill out the call out sheet with precision so as to minimise confusion. List everything that is detachable, such as belts. 
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if anything is damaged. Magazines will pay for a genuine problem with the garments that they haven’t treated properly. Although bare in mind, sometimes it may be the courier, which is why, if possible, you should accompany your garments or get an intern to and check everything before you leave.
Sarah Potter- Editor

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