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Archive for February, 2007

This February, I was lucky enough to carve out some time away from client work to check out these trade shows myself. Since I am in the business of branding fashion companies, and helping them to create sales and marketing tools, I needed to see first-hand how brands hold up in the hot glare of the fashion world’s klieg lights! I was also lucky enough to walk the shows with two hot buyers from Seattle who and to hear what they had to say when shopping for lines to carry. Insider knowledge rocks!

Standing Out
There was alot of “me-too” branding at PROJECT and POOL. Understandably, fashion is about trends so it’s important for your line to be timely. However, branding is about standing out, and very few brands stood out when walking past the booths. I saw alot of hard-to-read, poorly branded signage with grungy logos that looked like chewed up garbage, and hardly distinguishable from the brand at the next booth. (The guilty shall remain nameless.) With buyers walking past your booth at warp-speed just trying to get done with their appointments before they collapse, it’s crucial to have your brand name stand out on your signage. Help them find you. Help them love you.

Insider tip:
Apparently, my two nameless buyers from Seattle were really hot to see who was getting press, and were more likely to stop by booths where press clippings were made prominent. A quote from one of my shameless industry sources: “Sadly, if Britney (Spears) is wearing it, so will everyone else!” While I think this quote is a bit extreme, having press clippings prominently placed at your booth signals to a buyer that your line is worth carrying, because customers are more likely to seek it out and buy it if they’ve seen it in their favorite magazine. So, get working on that PR, ok?

Make it Easy
While tagging along with my two buyers at their appointments with designers and sales reps, I learned a few things about how to optimize your sales process and tools.

First off, having a simplified line really helps. Overwhelming buyers with too many options in your line can cause them to glaze over and run away. Chances are they’ve been to about 40 other booths, and all they can think about is taking a bio-break or feeding their growling tummies. Make their choices simple, and make your sales tools (line sheet, look book, etc.) easy to read and order from.

Also, help them see how your product is best worn, or what other items it could go with. Helping them to merchandise your product helps them make money, and makes you look like a smart business person. Which, of course, you are. 🙂 Extra credit: show them you have a signage kit that helps them sell their product. Sweet!

Well, that’s enough for now. I’ve got more impressions from POOL and PROJECT that I will add later. Hang in there. Happy designing and see you soon!

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Amazing branding makes you stand out from the crowd. But it seems that alot of fashion brands are taking the easy way out, latching onto what everyone else is doing instead of being unique. Worse yet, if you are trying to launch your new brand at a tradeshow, and your booth’s branding looks frighteningly similar to the booth next to yours (I’ve seen this happen, and it’s oh-so tragic) , you will most certainly get lost in the crowd of wanna-be’s. Here are some branding trends in young contemporary sportswear that I really wish would go away, since they’ve been done to death.

• Logos with crowns or royal insignia. It’s been done. Get. Over. It.
• Skulls, skullz, and more skulls. Ok, so you’re cool and rock and roll-y. We get it.
• Gothic script fonts, generically synonymous with “rock and roll” style.
• Grungy-layered-vintage-clip-art logos. These are hard to read from a distance at a tradeshow. Try walking a show like PROJECT and you’ll see what I mean. Buyers get dog-tired from walking trade shows, and if they can’t read what you’re about in a second or two, they’re off. Buh-bye! No sale for you. Worse yet, these logos just look, well, dirty. Eew.

Great branding should be different from anyone else’s and make you stand out from your competition. Are your name and logo memorable and distinctive? If you can answer “yes” to both, then you are well on your way to setting yourself apart from the leagues of up and coming fashion labels. Imagine your catalog (and I assume you’ll have your logo on the cover) in a pile on a busy retail buyer’s desk with everyone else’s: if it doesn’t stand out, it may as well be in recycle bin. Sad!
My advice: Be different. Or be replaceable.

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