• Charlene Shirk
  • Charlene Shirk
  • Charlene Shirk

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Fashion Fails. They’re Not What You Think.

Bloggers are inspired by them. Magazines dedicate pages upon pages to them. Celebrities try to avoid them like a red-carpet plague. But traditional fashion fails can translate into big wins for a designer. Why? Buzz. A heavily-panned ensemble still brings a designer’s name to the tip of everyone’s tongue, and that can translate into a boost to the bottom line. The real fashion fails show up long before the paparazzi.

In the fashion industry, just as in all other industries, public perception can make or break a business. From research and design to return policies, a positive audience is a promoting audience. Fashion marketing fails can cost a company millions and damage consumer confidence. Consulting with a professional marketing and public relations strategist can help growing businesses avoid potentially devastating missteps. 

Research, research, research.

Proper research is critical before spending one dollar on production or distribution. What is your niche? Who is your target audience? Where are you spending your budget dollars? Speaking to the right audience with the right message about the right product gives a company the opportunity to create a genuine – and profitable – relationship with its customers.

  • Know the competition as well as you know your own strengths and weaknesses. If your signature item is a great pair of flats, know how you stack up against Tory Burch’s Reva flats. Be able to identify what makes your product different and leverage that difference to consumer preferences in your marketing.
  • Make sure your dollars make sense. Getting a great deal on a sleek magazine ad may seem like a win, but are the right people seeing it? A marketing or public relations strategist can tell you if they are, and often, even negotiate better rates.
  • Be sensitive to the global environment outside your industry. Your edgy, skull-and-crossbones print sweater could be the new “must-have”, launched just in time for the 2000 holiday season. Try it just one year later, during the height of the nation’s 2001 anthrax scare, and your “must-have” becomes a “gotta-go”. Even industry titan Nike ran into an expensive recall snag in 1997 when it discovered its flame design resembled the Arabic word for Allah, offending some Islamic groups.

Media Maintenance

Many business owners understand the importance of R&D, production, inventory flow and day-to-day management. But having the perfect product is irrelevant if no one is aware of it. Owners often rely on the knowledge of a marketing and public relations strategist to navigate the public realm. Understanding the proper channels and procedures for mainstream print and broadcast media is complex. Digital media, while easily accessible, is so cluttered with messaging that it can be difficult for a brand to break through the noise. By budgeting for a marketing and public relations team, growing designers can focus on the fashion industry they know best while still avoiding media faux pas.

  • Let the press know about your news. A properly written and formatted press release makes a reporter’s job easier, but the key to coverage is content relevancy. A professional media representative will know the right people to target, how they prefer to receive information and can often leverage for additional coverage.
  • Treat the media like your best client. Media outlets have different story deadlines and requirements. Failure to respond in a timely way to a media request, or not being prepared with the necessary information, will likely result in it being your last request.
  • Mind your digital platforms. Social media updates and website management is a full-time job. In this age of information immediacy, non-existent or out-of-date digital platforms relay a lack of professionalism to consumers. Social media platforms can be an impressive awareness tool, but virtually ineffective without the right execution. For websites, search engine optimization is king. If customers can’t find you easily, you don’t exist.

Gast, L. "Fashion Fails. They’re Not What You Think." Blog Title. February, 2016.

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