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Archive for the ‘Trade Shows’ Category

A few months ago, the amazing Kathleen Fasanella from Fashion Incubator chimed in on a blog post of mine buy posting a comment with some great links from her website on how to better work the fashion trade shows. Here are links to those tips again, posted front and center for everyone to see.

1. How to promote yourself bef1ore a show
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/how_to_promote_yourself_before_a_show/

2. How to promote your line at a tradeshow
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/how_to_promote_your_line_at_a_trade_show/

3. What it’s like to exhibit at MAGIC
http://www.fashion-incubator.com/archive/what_its_like_to_exhibit_at_magic/

Tip from Kathleen:

“One last take away, I CANNOT stress this enough:
Make sure your booth number is on EVERY SINGLE piece of material in your booth. EVERYTHING, down to press releases, press reprints you give away, line sheets, order forms, business cards, swag, whatever. If that means you have to order little stickers to plaster on everything, so be it. Seriously.”

And lastly, I found this great interview with the folks who put on MAGIC on Fashion Biz Inc’s website. It also has some great advice on how to work the shows. It’s called “Get the most out of MAGIC!”

http://fashionbizinc.org/blog/selling-at-a-trade-show/

Good luck at market everyone!

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My latest article for Nolcha.com contains advice on how emerging fashion designers can impress retailers when going to market for the first time. All info was gleaned from interviews with successful boutique owners. Insider info, just for you. Here’s a quick excerpt and a link to the full article:

As an emerging fashion label launching in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, you are undoubtedly making every possible effort to impress buyers at market and gain a competitive advantage. Chances are, you’ve made a considerable investment in all aspects of your business, from samples and production, to branding, marketing, PR, and sales efforts.

But because of the recent economic down-turn, retail buyers are scrutinizing new labels more closely, and some are favoring tried and true brands over new ones, for fear that new ones may not be as “buttoned-up” and therefore a financial risk. With tradeshow season upon us, how can you show retailers that your label is a good investment? Show them that you’re pulled together and super committed to helping them sell your line. Here’s how….

Read the full article here.

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Another reader has written in with a question, which I will reply here for everyone’s benefit:

From Shannon:

Hi Giannina,
I was wondering if you ever covered the topic of how to approach the buyer at a boutique? I have a new product (it falls under the Food & Beverage category I guess) and I am just now starting to work on getting the product into stores. I would love to know if there is a protocol on how to go about doing this – without going to a trade/gift show. Any advice? Or any suggestions of articles/blogs/posts that address this question? Thanks for your time. I love the blog and can’t wait to read more of it!!

Hi Shannon, I have covered this a little before but will address the topic again. I have a client with similar situation to yours, she could not afford trade shows or gift shows, yet by simply pounding the pavement locally, has managed to gain entry into major stores here in Seattle. It is completely acceptable to approach local boutiques directly.

However, emails didn’t seem to work, as they got lost in the shuffle, but what did work was calling and asking for the buyer and getting an appointment. Once at the appointment, being very organized and professional is helpful. Of course, it really helped my client that her brand image was in order ( I designed all of her packaging) as it really, really helped sell the product. What also helped was having some sort of professionally designed literature (which I created for her) accompanying her product that would explain it to the customer, and help the product sell. This really clinched the deal, as it made her look like she was thinking ahead about how to sell the product, which store owners love.

I hope you find this info helpful. Good luck!

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Hi everyone,

Sorry I haven’t written in a few weeks, I have been severely under the weather and now needing to catch up on blogging duties. Never fear, I’ve been brewing up some good topics, so keep checking back for more fashion branding and marketing fabulosity.

Last week, reader Kelly M wrote in with a great question, which I’ll post here with a response, so everyone can see. Thanks Kelly! Here is the question:

“I work for a small manufacturer of eco-friendly products. We are considering attending one of these fashion shows- either Magic, Pool, Project.. etc. We know that Magic incorporated Ecollection this year. By the looks of the description this may be a great opportunity for our company… however we are really unsure if this should be “the one”. What were your thoughts on Ecollection and how would you go about choosing a trade show if you haven’t participated in one before.”

Great question, Kelly. In previous years, the Eco category was given a small section in POOL [last year it was called “(s)econds”], but as you can see the category is growing tremendously, so much so that MAGIC has dedicated a much bigger effort to it with Ecollection. I haven’t been to Ecollection yet but a client of mine showed this past August with good results. Since MAGIC is in fact the largest fashion trade show, I think it should rank high up there in terms of which show you decide to go to. MAGIC probably gets some of the highest foot traffic of all the shows, so to me, showing at Ecollection makes sense. I would definitely choose a big show like MAGIC and show under the Eco category,  as opposed to doing a smaller show that also might have less foot traffic. Basically, you want exposure to as many retail buyers as possible, and MAGIC affords you that possibility.

Also, from what I have seen, POOL is fairly small and heavily dominated by T-shirts and youngish, trendy hipster wear, and it does get less traffic. PROJECT is bigger, and more oriented toward young lifestyle fashion, like fashion jeans and such.

Of course, you have to look at your budget and decide what you can afford to do. But if you can swing the cost, I do believe MAGIC is the place to be. If you decide to do MAGIC, make sure you’re prepared: Make some clean and attractive signage so people can easily see your booth, and bring good marketing materials, even if they are simple and low-budget.

Thanks, Kelly! I hope this helps! Don’t hesitate to write again if you have more questions!

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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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