So have you heard? It’s Fashion Week — or more specifically, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week — here in the Big Apple. It’s the time of year when all the famous, stylish people, Real Housewives, designers, their muses, and Project Runway contestants come out and have their pictures taken for seven straight days. We joke. There’s also a lot of cool fashion (said in your Iman voice) and plenty of of focus on what will be “in” (said in your mom’s voice) in the coming seasons.
But Fashion Week isn’t just for clothing and accessories. With all eyes trained on the event, it’s become a great place for brands of all stripes to promote their goodies.
Successfully Bringing a Non-Fashion Brand to Fashion Week by Maureen Lippe, founder and CEO of Lippe Taylor
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is no longer just for the fashion elite but instead has become one of the biggest events for consumers, brands, tastemakers, and the media alike. What started out as an opportunity for designers to showcase their work to fashion journalists during “Press Week” has turned into a full out frenzy as brands compete for attention during all the action. In fact, for PR professionals and brands, Fashion Week has become less about fashion and more about finding creative ways to find a spot for your client in front of key influencers.
With the countless opportunities available, bringing attention to your client is no easy task. Take Mercedes-Benz for example, it’s not often one would think that an automotive company would partner with fashion in such a major way. Mercedes-Benz recognizes that their consumers and key influencers have a strong sense of style when it comes to both their transportation and their fashion choices. While not all brands have the opportunity to become the title sponsor (especially with Mercedes-Benz announcing they’ll be signing on for another three years), there are some key tips and trends to recognize when deciding how your brand fits into the Fashion Week fold.
· Location. Location. Location. Where your brand is positioned during Fashion Week is critical. Each brand is competing to be the most talked about, coveted, and impactful – something that won’t be achieved if you’re not in a convenient location to the media and celebrities at Lincoln Center. Whether your brand is at the tents or at a nearby lounge, accessibility is key to maximizing engagement.
· Strategic Style Sense. Just as a designer creates what makes sense for their brand artistically, your brand needs to align with a designer that makes sense strategically. Make sure that you’re reaching the interests of your target demographic and not forcing your brand’s presence just to see and be seen. Fashion Week is all about mingling with those who share a passion for fashion (and other fine things) and no one wants to be the odd man out at that party.
· Excite and Delight with an Unexpected Experience. Creating an interesting draw to your brand is crucial to engaging with the Fashion Week crowd beyond a product sell. Create a lasting relationship by providing a service that is fun, convenient, and meaningful. BlackBerry offering free monogramming to smart phone users (that’s almost every attendee at Fashion Week) left an impression that stays in the palm of your hand long after you leave the tents.
· Do Feed the Models. One of the biggest trends this year was the pop-up restaurants and food trucks parked outside at Lincoln Center. Urban Decay partnered with Eddie’s pizza to offer free slices to the stylish. The brand saw a need for quick, convenient sustenance when running from show to show and created an extraordinarily exciting and popular means to deliver.
· Step INSIDE The Box. Creating an up close and personal experience with a brand is difficult at any venue, but the emerging designers in the fashion world today have stepped inside The Box (a Lincoln Center space used during NYFW) to create a cost-efficient exhibit-style presentation that allows attendees to interact more directly with the designers and their brand. Many brands have also embraced online streaming of their shows for consumers, creating excitement for the new collections and perpetuating fashion directly to the homes of consumers.
Just like fashion itself, Fashion Week is constantly evolving and your brand needs to evolve with it. Staying accessible, sensible, and innovative will ensure that your brand will reach target influencers and media.
Please note: Lippe Taylor doesn’t work with any of the brands mentioned in this column but did work with clients during the event.